Judging Beauty in Architecture and its Role as a Fitness Indicator
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The importance of beauty in architecture has been discussed throughout history and so have the factors that affect mate choice. This study combines these two ideas and looks at how beauty in architecture is judged and the role that an individuals home can have as a fitness indicator. It builds on the work of Miller (2001) in relationship to the ability to produce something beautiful, as a biological adaptation used in courtship. Examples of this in the animal world include the male peacock’s tail and the male bowerbird’s bower. The first two experiments in the study investigate how people judge beauty in houses in relation to different factors such as size, ornamentation, and the houses surrounding area, and how these beauty ratings affect the occupier’s desirability as a mate, using the preference ratings of photographs of twenty houses. Positive correlations were found beauty ratings and the occupier’s perceived physical attractiveness, r=.487, p<.05 and health, r=.611,p<.05 as well as between beauty and overall desirability as a mate, r=.672, p<.05. Positive correlations were also found between beauty and plot size, ornamentation and size. Negative correlations were found between beauty and modernity and urban surroundings. The third experiment relates to the hypothesis that waste of useable space in a building such as thick walls, ornamentation and high ceilings, leads to beauty. Preferences relating to ceiling height and proportion, and wall thickness and windowsill depth were investigated using images created on sketch up. The results partly support the hypothesis relating to waste, as the participants did show a preference for images showing a larger amount of wasted space. A positive correlation was also found between cost and beauty ratings of both wall thickness and ceiling height. The implications of these findings on the world of architecture and in relation to perception and mate choice are then discussed, and future research is suggested.