Role Of Divine Proportion In Perception Of Beauty Biology Essay

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Beauty is the phenomenon of experiencing pleasure, through the perception of balance. According to some authors, attractive faces have ideal proportions that are close to the Divine Proportion.

Aims & Objectives:

To investigate the relationship of certain measured proportions in facial profiles of young females to the divine proportion and to identify those proportions in facial profiles that are significant to the perception of beauty.

Materials & Methods:

Profile photographs of 50 females with acceptable profiles between the ages of 18 and 20 were taken. Silhouettes of their standardized profile photographs were prepared using Adobe Photoshop, which were scored by 20 judges (10 men and 10 women) using a visual analog scale. Five anatomical landmarks were identified on the silhouettes, six linear dimensions measured and five ratios calculated. Student's t test was used to compare the subjects' profile proportions.

Results & Conclusions:

It was concluded that the measured proportions R1 (Tr-Me:Tr-Sn) and R2 (Tr-Me:N-Me) in facial profiles with higher esthetic scores were closer to the divine proportion. In facial profiles with lower esthetic scores, none of the ratios approximated the divine proportion. The ratios R1 (Tr-Me:Tr-Sn), R2 (Tr-Me:N-Me), R3 (Tr-Sn:Sn-Me) and R5 (N-Sn:St-Me) were the more influential ratios which guided the judges' perception of the beauty of the profiles.

Key words: Divine proportion, Profile, Silhouettes.

The role of divine proportion in the perception of beauty: A cross sectional study

INTRODUCTION

The writer Margaret Wolfe Hungerford (1878) said "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". Perceptions of facial beauty have genetic, environmental and cultural foundations. The origin of our perceptions of beauty and harmony is justly called a 'sense' since it involves no intellectual element, no reflection on principles and causes.(1,2,3) Though not an understandable or quantifiable entity, everyone admires beauty and its unique balance in nature. This balance and perception of beauty has been attributed to the 'golden' number or the ratio that gives certain things their exquisiteness.(4)

The "divine proportion" is one of the several terms used to describe the division of a line such that the ratio of the smaller section to the larger section is the same as that of the larger section to the whole.(5) Other names given to this ratio include the "golden proportion," and the "golden section."(6) This ratio can be expressed mathematically as 1.618:1 or 1:0.618. There have been many claims that the divine proportion was used in Greek art and architecture by the sculptor Phidias. This has led to its nickname as the "Phi" ratio.(7) The term "divine proportion" was first used by the Italian Renaissance mathematician Fra Luca Pacioli.(8,9)

Lombardi and Levin suggested that divine proportion provides a guide for the ideal sizes of teeth.(10,11) In 1980, Ricketts found that divine proportion existed in a large number of lateral and frontal cephalograms and photographs that he considered ideal. Therefore, Ricketts advocated the use of these divine proportion ratios as guides for planning orthognathic surgery.(12,13) Marquardt developed a beauty mask based on the divine proportion and showed that regardless of race or age, a face is deemed beautiful if it conforms to the beauty mask. (14)

The human face must also conform to the divine proportion in order to be biologically efficient and viable. Development towards ideal proportion maximizes efficiency and health. Patients who are dolichofacial tend to have upper airway obstructions and TMJ disorders(15,16,17) and patients who are extremely brachyfacial tend to have severe myofacial pain and temporo-mandibular joint disorder.(18,19,20) Thus it can be inferred that faces that do not conform to the divine proportion not only have esthetic problems but have physiologic problems as well.

The introduction of a standard called the Divine Proportion for the evaluation of a profile can lead orthodontic, orthopedic and surgical treatment to obtain maximum facial beauty. It was hypothesized that the values of certain measured proportions in beautiful faces are likely to approximate the Divine Proportion. (21) This study was carried out the following aims and objectives:

To investigate the relationship of certain measured proportions in facial profiles of young females to the divine proportion.

To identify measured proportions in facial profiles that are significant to the perception of beauty.

Materials and Methods:

Fifty female dental students with acceptable profiles between the ages of 18 and 20 years were invited to participate in this investigation. Subjects with gross facial deformity/ asymmetry, history of orthodontic treatment, or extraction of teeth, except for third molars or cosmetic surgeries on the face were excluded. The aim of this study was explained and informed consent was obtained from each participant.

In the first part of the investigation, a clinical examination of the study subjects was carried out following which, the subjects' standardized profile photographs were taken. During this procedure, the subjects were requested to adopt normal facial expression, without any asymmetry, sagittal and vertical deviations, and to maintain normal lip position (without excessive or decreased lip protrusion). The operator ensured that the subjects removed their glasses and any jewellery in the head and neck region and that the subject's forehead and neck were clearly visible while the photograph was taken. The subjects' heads were oriented in the natural head position, and a standardized right profile photograph of each subject was taken using a digital camera. The distance between the photographic equipment and the subjects was 150 cm. All the photographs were taken by the same operator.

In order to take the photographs in natural head position, subjects were asked to stand up and look straight into their eyes' image in the mirror located on the wall in front of them at the same level as their pupils. In this position, the lips had to be relaxed, adopting the position they normally show during the day.

All 50 photographs were then converted to black and white (silhouette), using the Adobe Photoshop program and then cropped to include only the facial outline (figure 1). The silhouettes were then placed into a power point slide show to be displayed for the judges who rated these silhouettes.

The panel of judges consisted of 10 males and 10 females, which comprised of two orthodontists (one male and one female), four maxillofacial surgeons (two males and two females), four senior dental students (2 males and two females), and 10 laymen (five males and five females) with no dental training. They were then asked to score the profiles according to their preference for what was more or less attractive. A 100 mm visual analog scale score sheet was created to record the judges' esthetic scores for each silhouette on a scale of 0 (least attractive) to 100 (most attractive).

To assess intra-assessor reliability, the judges rated the entire samples once again, approximately 3 weeks after the first rating with the same method. At this session the images were shown randomly. In this way, at the end of two sessions there were 40 scores for each subject. The mean of the scores for each profile was calculated, based on which, the profiles were categorized into two groups:

Group A: 25 profiles with higher esthetic scores

Group B: 25 profiles with lower esthetic scores

In the second part of this study and in order to evaluate the Divine Proportion in subjects' profiles, five anatomic landmarks were identified (figure 1) on each silhouette as follows: (21)

1. Trichion (Tr): The superior border of the anatomical forehead, the hairline.

2. Soft tissue nasion (N): The most concave point of the tissue overlying the area of the frontonasal suture.

3. Subnasale (Sn): A point located at the junction between the lower border of the nose and the beginning of the upper lip at the midsagittal plane.

4. Stomion (St): The median point of the oral embrasure when the lips are closed.

5. Soft tissue menton (Me): The most inferior point on the soft tissue chin.

After identification of mentioned landmarks, six linear dimensions were measured. A pointed divider which could be fixed in position with a screw thread was used. Measurements were made in a straight line with the pointed members held on the landmarks identified. Then the divider tips were placed on a white paper that was placed on a cork board. Gentle pressure was applied on the divider so that the tips perforated the paper. Then the perforations were joined by a straight line and it was measured with a digital vernier caliper. The instrumental error of -0.02 mm was subtracted.

The following ratios were then calculated:

R1: Tr to Me (1.618): Tr to Sn (1.0)

R2: Tr to Me (1.618): N to Me (1.0)

R3: Tr to Sn (1.618): Sn to Me (1.0)

R4: Sn to Me (1.618): St to Me (1.0)

R5: N to Sn (1.618): St to Me (1.0).

All the manual procedures were undertaken by the same operator and all of these processes were repeated two times to reduce errors. The Student's t test was used to compare the subjects' profile proportions. In this study, P < 0.05 was used as the level of statistical significance.

Figure 1: The landmarks on the silhouettes

Tables:

Table - 1: Average values for five facial profile proportions in 25 subjects with higher esthetic scores (Group - A)

Ratio

N

Mean ± Standard Deviation

Difference

(Divine proportion - Ratio)

R1

Tr-Me:Tr-Sn

25

1.58424 ± 0.034609

0.034

R2

Tr-Me:N-Me

25

1.57976 ± 0.063001

0.039

R3

Tr-Sn:Sn-Me

25

1.69252 ± 0.091672

0.074

R4

Sn-Me:St-Me

25

1.47852 ± 0.05446

0.14

R5

N-Sn:St-Me

25

1.53976 ± 0.091158

0.079

Table - 2: Average values for five profile proportions in 25 subjects with lower esthetic scores (Group - B)

Ratio

N

Mean

Difference

(Divine proportion - Ratio)

R1

Tr-Me:Tr-Sn

25

1.52896 ± 0.07604

0.09

R2

Tr-Me:N-Me

25

1.541 ± 0.091377

0.077

R3

Tr-Sn:Sn-Me

25

1.90344 ± 0.187325

0.285

R4

Sn-Me:St-Me

25

1.46804 ± 0.066739

0.15

R5

N-Sn:St-Me

25

1.13148 ± 0.103861

0.487

Table - 3: Comparison of profile proportions in group A and group B

Ratio

Group

N

Mean

Students t test

(p value)

R1

Tr-Me:Tr-Sn

A

25

1.58424 ± 0.034609

0.00225*

B

25

1.52896 ± 0.07604

R2

Tr-Me:N-Me

A

25

1.57976 ± 0.063001

0.00551*

B

25

1.541 ± 0.091377

R3

Tr-Sn:Sn-Me

A

25

1.69252 ± 0.091672

0.00000*

B

25

1.90344 ± 0.187325

R4

Sn-Me:St-Me

A

25

1.47852 ± 0 .05446

0 .54595

B

25

1.46804 ± 0.066739

R5

N-Sn:St-Me

A

25

1.53976 ± 0.091158

0.001748*

B

25

1.13148 ± 0.103861

* Significant

Results:

The average values for five facial profile proportions in 25 subjects with higher esthetic scores (Group A) are summarized in table 1. In Group A, the ratios R1 and R2 (with the mean of 1.58) were closer to the Divine Proportion. The average values for five profile proportions in 25 subjects with lower esthetic scores (Group B) are summarized in table 2. In Group B, none of the ratios approximated the divine proportion. However, none of the ratios had the mean of 1.618. Comparison of profile proportions in group A and group B (table 3) revealed statistically significant differences in ratios R1, R2, R3 and R5.

Discussion:

Many guidelines, norms and standards have been proposed to describe ideal proportions in the human face, and for a long time golden proportions have supposedly been apparent in the ideal face. Underneath skin color and hair texture, lies the facial architecture that must conform to the universal standard based on the divine proportion.(14)

The age group of subjects in this study was 18 to 20 years because, between the ages of 14 to 24, the mature face is usually quite attractive in a nurturing way for parents and in a sexually attractive way for a mate. From about 24 years of age, the post pubescent adult face begins to slowly and progressively become less attractive. In the present study, only female subjects were selected as the human male face is considered to be generally less attractive than the human female face in the post pubescent period. (14) Again, selecting only female subjects in age group of 18 to 20 years limited the scope of the variables in the study and also decreased the dilution of results.

Subjects with history of orthodontic treatment, or extraction of teeth, except for third molars or cosmetic surgeries on the face were excluded in order to assess profiles which have not been altered due to treatment.

The present study used silhouettes for evaluating the divine proportion in profiles because this eliminated all extrinsic and intrinsic distracting variables (such as hair style, make-up, skin complexion) that could influence an evaluator's esthetic score rating. Studies of facial attractiveness in the orthodontic literature have concentrated on the profile outline by using tracings or silhouettes instead of profile photographs.(22) Barrer and Ghafari assessed profile silhouettes before and after orthodontic treatment. Their results also supported the use of the silhouette in the evaluation of profiles.(23)

In the present study, 10 males and 10 females were selected on the panel of judges to eliminate any gender bias that may be associated with perception of beauty. The rating of facial attractiveness will always be somewhat subjective, making it difficult to correlate changes in esthetics with any particular facial measurement. By using lay people as judges, as well as professionals trained in assessment of facial appearance, we hoped to obtain as realistic a rating of beauty as possible. This method was consistent with that of Farkas.(24)

The use of the visual analog scale was based on the work of Howells and Shaw and by Phillips and others. The visual analog scale was popular with judges and allowed ratings to be given quickly and provided more flexibility than numeric scales or equal appearing interval scales. (25,26,27,28)

In this study, among the 25 subjects with higher esthetic scores, it was observed that ratios R1 and R2 with mean of 1.58 were closer to the divine proportion, where as in group B, none of the ratios approximated the divine proportion. These results are in agreement with Pancherz et al who reported that on comparing attractive and non attractive patients, deviations from the divine proportion values for all variables were larger in the non attractive sample.(29)

However, comparison of profile proportions between the two groups revealed that the ratios R1, R2, R3 and R5 showed statistically significant variations. This implies that ratios R1, R2, R3 and R5 were the influential ratios which guided the judges' perception in giving a higher or lower rating to the subjects. This is in contrast with the study by Jahanbin et al in an Iranian population, who reported that ratios R1 and R2 showed maximum variations.(21)

Though the present study attempted to investigate the relationship of measured proportions in facial profiles to the divine proportion, considering the numerous factors which are influential in determination of beauty of a profile, it may be concluded that if the divine proportion is to be used as an aid to treatment planning, it should perhaps be used along with other factors.

Conclusions:

The following conclusions were drawn from the results of the present study:

The measured proportions R1 (Tr-Me:Tr-Sn) and R2 (Tr-Me:N-Me) in facial profiles with higher esthetic scores were closer to the divine proportion.

In facial profiles with lower esthetic scores, none of the ratios approximated the divine proportion.

The ratios R1 (Tr-Me:Tr-Sn), R2 (Tr-Me:N-Me), R3 (Tr-Sn:Sn-Me) and R5 (N-Sn:St-Me) were the more influential ratios which guided the judges' perception of the beauty of the profiles.

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