The look of love is all in the eyes

LONDON Wed Nov 7, 2007 8:36am EST

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LONDON (Reuters) - Burt Bacharach penned the music four decades ago and Dusty Springfield sang about it in the James Bond film "Casino Royale."

Now, researchers have concluded that "The Look of Love" is, indeed, all in the eyes: looking directly at someone makes you more attractive to them.

The finding, from the Face Research Laboratory at Aberdeen University, challenges previous studies that have attributed attractiveness to physical characteristics -- such as a preference for symmetrical faces, large lips in women and strong jaw-lines in men.

Dr Claire Conway, author of the study, which was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society Wednesday, said that maintaining eye contact and smiling makes you more attractive.

Conway and fellow researchers analyzed the effect of gaze direction, facial expressions and gender on attractiveness.

Participants were found to be more attracted to happy faces, looking directly at them and of the opposite sex.

"When asked to think of examples of attractive facial characteristics, most people think of physical traits such as healthy looking skin or a strong jaw," the researchers said.

"Here, we show that gaze direction can also be important for attraction.

"Faces that were looking directly at the viewer were judged more attractive than faces with averted gaze.

"This shows that people prefer faces that appear to like them and that attraction is not simply about physical beauty."

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