Ravivarman Thiruchselvam

Assistant Professor of Psychology Ravi Thiruchselvam recently published an article in Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience (SCAN). Titled “Beauty is in the belief of the beholder: Cognitive influences on the neural response to facial attractiveness,” the article features a study examining how neural responses to facial attractiveness are shaped by an observer’s beliefs about a person.

Conducted with Jessica Harper ’15 and Abigail Homer ’16, the study showed that when individuals are led to believe that their peers think a specific person is highly attractive, their own attractiveness judgments of the person change in that direction. These changes occur not only at the level of individuals’ attractiveness ratings, but also in their brain responses to attractiveness, as measured by EEG.

Thiruchselvam said the findings highlight how our beliefs shape even highly rapid perceptions of the external world.

SCAN is one of the leading, peer-reviewed journals in neuroscience.

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