Beauty in the Hijab – the influence of the religious garment and gaze direction on perceived facial attractiveness

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


The Hijab is a headscarf that covers the head and the neck, worn by many Muslim women across the globe, primarily as a symbol of modesty, privacy, and religious observance. Previous studies have demonstrated the Hijab reduced perceived facial attractiveness and may affect the perception of other personal attributes (e.g., intelligence and pleasantness) of women in both non-Muslim and Muslim populations. On the other hand, transient, non-verbal social cues such as eye gaze are known to influence the formation of first impressions. Direct gaze is often associated with social interest and engagement and may enhance facial attractiveness, as reported in some studies. However, the meaning of eye contact can vary across cultures. For instance, in some Muslim cultures, prolonged direct gaze or eye contact is considered a negative behaviour suggesting disrespect. Here we investigated whether hijab-wearing status and gaze direction interact on perceived facial attractiveness in a predominantly Muslim, but culturally diverse city - Dubai, UAE. In an attractiveness rating task (n = 147; 75 female), faces of 20 Muslim women were presented in 4 conditions: 1) Uncovered + direct gaze; 2) Uncovered + averted gaze; 3) Hijab-wearing + direct gaze; and 4) Hijab-wearing + averted gaze, for 2 seconds each. All faces with direct gaze, regardless of Hijab-wearing status, were rated as more attractive compared to those with
averted gaze [ F (1, 146) = 60.34, p < 0.001]. Surprisingly, uncovered faces were perceived to be less attractive than those wearing the Hijab [ F (1, 146) = 162.32, p < 0.001]. There was no interaction between gaze direction and Hijab-wearing status (p > 0.05). A follow-up study using the Implicit Association Task is underway to further investigate whether the enhanced attractiveness judgements towards hijab-wearing faces reflects the positive connotations associated with the Hijab in the region.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2024
Event45th European Conference on Visual Perception 2023 - Paphos, Cyprus
Duration: 27 Aug 202331 Aug 2023


Conference45th European Conference on Visual Perception 2023
Abbreviated titleEVCP


Dive into the research topics of 'Beauty in the Hijab – the influence of the religious garment and gaze direction on perceived facial attractiveness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this