Brief Communication | Published:


Reward value of attractiveness and gaze

Naturevolume 413page589 (2001) | Download Citation


  • A Correction to this article was published on 11 April 2002

Making eye contact enhances the appeal of a pleasing face, irrespective of gender.


Faces are visual objects in our environment that provide strong social cues1, with the eyes assuming particular importance2,3. Here we show that the perceived attractiveness of an unfamiliar face increases brain activity in the ventral striatum of the viewer when meeting the person's eye, and decreases activity when eye gaze is directed away. Depending on the direction of gaze, attractiveness can thus activate dopaminergic regions that are strongly linked to reward prediction4, indicating that central reward systems may be engaged during the initiation of social interactions.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Bruce, V. & Young, A. Br. J. Psychol. 77, 305–327 (1986).

  2. 2

    Kleinke, C. L. Psychol. Bull. 100, 78–100 (1986).

  3. 3

    Emery, N. J. Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev. 24, 581–604 (2000).

  4. 4

    Schultz, W., Dayan, P. & Montague, P. R. Science 275, 1593–1599 (1997).

  5. 5

    Berridge, K. C. Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev. 20, 1–25 (1996).

  6. 6

    Schultz, W. J. Neurophysiol. 80, 1–27 (1998).

Download references

Author information


  1. Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, 17 Queen Square, London, WC1N 3AR, UK

    • Knut K. W. Kampe
    •  & Uta Frith
  2. Wellcome Department of Cognitive Neurology, 12 Queen Square, London, WC1N 3BG, UK

    • Chris D. Frith
    •  & Raymond J. Dolan


  1. Search for Knut K. W. Kampe in:

  2. Search for Chris D. Frith in:

  3. Search for Raymond J. Dolan in:

  4. Search for Uta Frith in:

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Knut K. W. Kampe.

About this article

Publication history

Issue Date


Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.