The Relative Contribution of Facial and Body Information to the Perception of Cuteness

Jihyun Hwang, Yejin Lee, Sung Ho Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Faces and bodies both provide cues to age and cuteness, but little work has explored their interaction in cuteness perception. This study examines the interplay of facial and bodily cues in the perception of cuteness, particularly when these cues convey conflicting age information. Participants rated the cuteness of face–body composites that combined either a child or adult face with an age-congruent or incongruent body alongside manipulations of the head-to-body height ratio (HBR). The findings from two experiments indicated that child-like facial features enhanced the perceived cuteness of adult bodies, while child-like bodily features generally had negative impacts. Furthermore, the results showed that an increased head size significantly boosted the perceived cuteness for child faces more than for adult faces. Lastly, the influence of the HBR was more pronounced when the outline of a body’s silhouette was the only available information compared to when detailed facial and bodily features were presented. This study suggests that body proportion information, derived from the body’s outline, and facial and bodily features, derived from the interior surface, are integrated to form a unitary representation of a whole person in cuteness perception. Our findings highlight the dominance of facial features over bodily information in cuteness perception, with facial attributes serving as key references for evaluating face–body relationships and body proportions. This research offers significant insights into social cognition and character design, particularly in how people perceive entities with mixed features of different social categories, underlining the importance of congruency in perceptual elements.

Original languageEnglish
Article number68
JournalBehavioral Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 by the authors.


  • baby schema
  • body proportions
  • cuteness perception
  • face and body
  • person perception


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