Harvard School of Medicine
NANCY ETCOFF, is a psychologist and faculty member of the Harvard Medical School and of Harvard University’s Mind/Brain/Behavior Initiative. She directs the Program in Aesthetics and Well Being at the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Psychiatry.
Etcoff has conducted research on the perception of beauty, emotion, and the brain for over fifteen years. She is the author of Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty, which is the subject of a one-hour Discovery Channel program. Nancy Etcoff’s work has been cited in The New York Times, The New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek, O, Time, USA Today, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Mademoiselle, Vogue, Glamour, Allure, Fortune, Forbes, Rolling Stone, The New York Review of Books, Seed, Discover, U.S. News and World Report, Wired, and many other magazines and newspapers. She has appeared as a featured guest on Dateline, Good Morning America, The Oprah Winfrey Show, NPR, and numerous other national television and radio programs.
“The argument is a simple one: that beauty is a universal part of human experience, and that it provokes pleasure, rivets attention, and impels actions that help ensure the survival of our genes. Our extreme sensitivity to beauty is hard-wired, that is, governed by circuits in the brain shaped by natural selection. We love to look at smooth skin, thick shiny hair, curved waists, and symmetrical bodies because in the course of evolution the people who noticed these signals and desired their possessors had more reproductive success. We are their descendants.” “Beauty ensnares hearts, captures minds, and stirs up emotional wildfires.” “Appearance is the most public part of the self. It is our sacrament, the visible self that the world assumes to be a mirror of the invisible, inner self.”