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posted by janrinok on Wednesday July 09 2014, @12:23PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the I-use-a-paper-bag dept.

From Science of Us:

You know you're at least a little curious. And so was Vanessa Brown, a senior lecturer of art and design at Nottingham Trent University in the U.K. Her research focuses on the meaning we assign to commonplace, everyday objects, and in an academic book that's coming out early next year, she explores the cultural and psychological relationship between sunglasses and our modern idea of "cool." In an email to Science of Us, Brown explained what her research has uncovered about why most of us look better in shades.

Because they really do make your misshapen face look better. Put on a pair of sunglasses, and voilà - instant symmetry! The dark lenses cover up any asymmetrical oddities around your eyes, and research on facial attractiveness shows a clear link between symmetry and our perception of beauty.

As an added bonus, Brown pointed out, sunglasses provide a kind of scaffolding effect, imposing the appearance of an external, extra-chiseled bone structure on top of your relatively softer-featured face.

Two other detailed reasons are also given.

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  • (Score: 0) by larku on Wednesday July 09 2014, @12:35PM

    by larku (4429) on Wednesday July 09 2014, @12:35PM (#66469)

    I knew this back in primary school some 30 years ago.

    I thought everyone knew there was a strong link between symmetry our interpretation of beauty.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by acid andy on Wednesday July 09 2014, @12:56PM

    by acid andy (1683) on Wednesday July 09 2014, @12:56PM (#66478) Homepage Journal

    Aren't sunglasses also considered cool because they're generally designed for use in bright, outdoor environments and thus associated with recreation, sports and therefore having fun?

    There's also the stealth aspect that they can make it harder for others to read your facial expression which can make you seem cooler as you appear calm and unaffected by events and harder for them to tell where you are looking which adds an air of mystery.

    Also, tinted glass and dark colours are considered stylish by many and therefore cool.

    --
    Where did that thought come from? And that one? What about this one? Woah, man...
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by acid andy on Wednesday July 09 2014, @01:06PM

      by acid andy (1683) on Wednesday July 09 2014, @01:06PM (#66486) Homepage Journal

      Oh crap, there goes my karma. I just RTFA : (
      The fact I came up with those reasons instantly and indepently though goes to show that TFA is really a waste of time. Nothing to see here.

      --
      Where did that thought come from? And that one? What about this one? Woah, man...
    • (Score: 2) by everdred on Wednesday July 09 2014, @09:04PM

      by everdred (110) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 09 2014, @09:04PM (#66727) Homepage Journal

      > There's also the stealth aspect that they can make it harder for others to read your facial expression which can make you seem cooler as you appear calm and unaffected by events and harder for them to tell where you are looking which adds an air of mystery.

      Yep, I had assumed this as well. This also makes me think of music videos, which typically give you clips of people doing something in front of the camera for only a second or two, not long enough for you to unconsciously examine their appearance for flaws.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Alfred on Wednesday July 09 2014, @01:13PM

    by Alfred (4006) on Wednesday July 09 2014, @01:13PM (#66491) Journal

    I think that those big round bug eye looking sunglasses are really ugly. I know they have been popular for years but I just have some aversion to them. Just personal opinion but in this case beauty isn't even skin deep.

    • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday July 09 2014, @02:04PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 09 2014, @02:04PM (#66527)

      "I know they have been popular for years"

      Maybe its regional. I thought no one wore them but me and the cool kids all wear tiny hipster grannie glass sunglasses to make fashion statements that don't block any light.

      I wear the giant glasses while driving and doing yardwork to actually protect my eyes, rather that to make a fashion statement. I agree they are kinda ugly but they work really well at protecting my eyes from glare. For the same reason they are really useful for fishing, I can't imagine the glare of fishing without glasses. Oh and snow sports like snowshoeing too.

      • (Score: 2, Informative) by Ethanol-fueled on Thursday July 10 2014, @04:54PM

        by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Thursday July 10 2014, @04:54PM (#67166) Homepage

        They were en vogue in Southern California for a period of years, started by a resurgence of their use by Hollywood starlets, the rationale being that their size gave women a "bobbleheaded" look kind of like a doll. For the record, I never liked 'em either.

        Now the only women who wear 'em are gaudy domestic Armenians and Arabs.

        As far as the "hipster granny glasses" you suggested as being en vogue now, that's what the trend is here as well.

        " Look how quirky I look with my fashion statements, as if that somehow compensates for a lack of personality or life experience! " [ /hipster ]

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09 2014, @01:25PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09 2014, @01:25PM (#66503)

    Presto, instant mystery.

  • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday July 09 2014, @01:45PM

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 09 2014, @01:45PM (#66514)

    Comment 1: WRT symmetry. If the reason the guys are staring at the hottie in the picture is merely symmetry, then the starfish tank at the zoo should be like an utter orgiastic bacchanalian riot spurting with uncontrollable animal grunts and moans of pleasure on a sticky slippery floor. You know, like a video game release party at gamestop. Yet, it turns out starfish are just kinda "eh" to most people, despite having more axes of symmetry than the sunglass wearing hottie in the pix.

    Comment 2: WRT lighting. People seem more attractive when illuminated by a nice sunny day than say, dim CRT illumination. Perhaps, there is an aspect of repeatability that a person who escapes the basement on a regular basis generally appears healthier and also feels the need to buy and wear sunglasses because of all that time outdoors. Look at that dark blob in the shadows over there, isn't she the cutest dark blob in the shadows you've ever barely seen? vs she's illuminated like a runway model and every square inch looks fabulous and as I stare I get to see more square inches as she bounces around on stage.

    Comment 3: WRT activity. People wear sunglasses while having fun, or seeing other people have fun... This never comes up in discussion of the sexiness of wearing sunglasses while shoveling manure into the garden, or while pumping out a septic tank, its always, "wearing sunglasses while suntanning in the string bikini on the beach and flirtatiously applying suntan oil allllll over and sensually rubbing it into her skin". Even if they aren't doing stuff like that in the pix, there's still that historical connection. Last time I saw a girl wearing sunglasses looking exactly like that she was... even if she's just walking her dog today. So yeah, historically my experience is a girl in sunglasses is having a lot more fun than one changing diapers or whatever, so by association...

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09 2014, @02:10PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09 2014, @02:10PM (#66531)
      WRT Symmetry - Symmetry is not the sole reason, but when asymmetrical it can distract from the beauty. Consider subject 1: Shannen Doherty - asymmetry ruins (for me) what would otherwise be a very pretty face. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_3o69DLFcCMA/Sv8EJCkPtXI/AAAAAAAAC60/jsvrZUpI2io/s400/Picture+3.png [blogspot.com]
    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Jesus_666 on Wednesday July 09 2014, @07:16PM

      by Jesus_666 (3044) on Wednesday July 09 2014, @07:16PM (#66682)
      WRT your comment on symmetry: Why aren't computer nerds constantly gushing over electrical substations? After all, we're all about devices where moving electrons do work and electrical substations have a lot of moving electrons. It's probably because context matters and starfish are not part of the context of human facial anatomy just like substations are not part of the personal computer context. It's been observed (including in studies) that symmetric faces are perceived as more attractive than asymmetric ones, although there are significant outliers. Even minor asymmetry can have an effect; there are studies where one half of the face was mirrored over to replace the other half and the resulting faces got better responses than the originals. Unlike what you assume, nobody says that symmetry is the only factor people use to assess the beauty of a face. Studies do say that it's one factor, though.

      WRT your comment on lighting: The presence of sunglasses is orthogonal to ambient lighting conditions. There are bright pictures of people without sunglasses and there are dim pictures of people wearing them. Likewise, even basement dwellers can put on sunglasses and, amazingly enough, runway models often don't wear them on the runway. The effect sunglasses have on a person's appearance are irrespective of lighting conditions.

      WRT your activity comment: That may be true; there certainly is an association of sunglasses with an active, fun lifestyle. Then again, skiers tend to wear ski goggles, which are certainly connected to an active, fun lifestyle but aren't terribly attractive if worn with anything but skiing gear. Imagine, for instance, how silly The Matrix would've looked with everyone in trenchcoats and ski goggles. While the association with fun activities may be relevant it's certainly not everything. It's perfectly compatible with the findings from TFA, though, so it may be a contributing factor.
  • (Score: 2) by nitehawk214 on Wednesday July 09 2014, @01:53PM

    by nitehawk214 (1304) on Wednesday July 09 2014, @01:53PM (#66517)

    Because people tend to be outdoors during the summer where it is hot out... Ohhh, that isn't what you mean.

    Actually, after lasik I had several people ask me if I was just trying to look "cool" by wearing sunglasses nearly all the time. The reality is that eyes are super sensitive a month or two after lasik. Even a year laser I wouldn't think of going out on a bright day, especially in the winter when you get even worse glare by looking at the snow. However I find it much more comfortable to wear proper sunglasses than prescription ones.

    --
    "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09 2014, @08:40PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09 2014, @08:40PM (#66715)

      Even a year laser I wouldn't think of going out on a bright day

      I tee what you did there.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09 2014, @03:49PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09 2014, @03:49PM (#66575)

    I collect sunglasses, I have a nice collection, and they are the first thing I look for when browsing in thrift shops.
    I only choose sunglasses made with glass lenses and the good ones give beautiful clarity and are a pleasure to wear for extended periods of time....and you can hand them down to your kids as a heirloom too!

    How to quickly test if the lens is glass and not plastic:
    Tap the lense gently against the bottom of your front teeth; if glass, it will have a bouncy resonant 'tick' sound; if plastic, it will have a non-bouncy non-resonant 'tick' sound.

    • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Wednesday July 09 2014, @04:08PM

      by Reziac (2489) on Wednesday July 09 2014, @04:08PM (#66586) Homepage

      Which is why when I have to buy a new pair, I cough up for genuine Air Force sunglasses, with GLASS lenses. No comparison between glass and plastic. (My oldest pair are now around 35 years old and are finally getting really scratched.)

      Also, I envy your collection. I never see glass-lensed models at thrifts here. :(

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by PizzaRollPlinkett on Wednesday July 09 2014, @03:51PM

    by PizzaRollPlinkett (4512) on Wednesday July 09 2014, @03:51PM (#66576)

    That's why we wear our sunglasses at night!

    If you don't get the joke, you didn't grow up in the 1980s.

    --
    (E-mail me if you want a pizza roll!)
    • (Score: 1) by TK-421 on Wednesday July 09 2014, @06:23PM

      by TK-421 (3235) on Wednesday July 09 2014, @06:23PM (#66647) Journal

      Between this joke and the promise of a pizza roll I get the feeling you are deceiving me, which seriously cuts my security. (That came out way lamer than I thought it would.)

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by dwmoody on Wednesday July 09 2014, @05:32PM

    by dwmoody (1661) on Wednesday July 09 2014, @05:32PM (#66618) Homepage

    I disagree with the entire premise of the article. I've never seen anyone who I thought looked more attractive while wearing sunglasses. I find the inability to look someone in the eye to be disconcerting in and of itself, as well as the fact that I am deprived of an important element of visual feedback during a conversation. I suspect that this is why law enforcement officers stereotypically wear sunglasses while doing traffic stops - I'm pretty sure they aren't too concerned with looking "hot."

  • (Score: 2) by tibman on Wednesday July 09 2014, @05:48PM

    by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 09 2014, @05:48PM (#66628)

    So where is my new study with faces wearing asymmetrical sunglasses and coolness levels?

    --
    SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
  • (Score: 0) by oldmac31310 on Wednesday July 09 2014, @06:25PM

    by oldmac31310 (4521) on Wednesday July 09 2014, @06:25PM (#66651)

    This is just more bullshit 'research'. If Soylent News intends to keep going, then I think becoming more discerning in choice of stories to run is imperative. Fluff like this has no place anywhere.

    • (Score: 1) by NullPtr on Wednesday July 09 2014, @09:15PM

      by NullPtr (3786) on Wednesday July 09 2014, @09:15PM (#66737) Journal

      I was thinking the same thing. Might as well just stick with Slashdot if you're just gonna run this shit.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by etherscythe on Wednesday July 09 2014, @09:42PM

      by etherscythe (937) on Wednesday July 09 2014, @09:42PM (#66750) Journal

      As of current page load, there are 15 stories in the queue. The editors can only produce stories that have been submitted. If you want a better selection, you might try giving them a better variety to choose from.

      I admit it's tough for me to follow my own advice on that, I've only submitted a few stories, but having seen the other stories in the list for consideration when I did, I think we're getting a pretty good mix.

      --
      "Fake News: anything reported outside of my own personally chosen echo chamber"
  • (Score: 1) by NullPtr on Wednesday July 09 2014, @09:06PM

    by NullPtr (3786) on Wednesday July 09 2014, @09:06PM (#66729) Journal

    You look like a dick wearing sunglasses. Very few people can pull it off; the ones who don't need to wear sunglasses, in fact.

    • (Score: 2) by AnythingGoes on Wednesday July 09 2014, @11:45PM

      by AnythingGoes (3345) on Wednesday July 09 2014, @11:45PM (#66806)
      You (think you) look like a Secret Service agent :)
      And also keep holding your wrist up to your mouth and tapping your ear :)