ArticlePDF Available

Abstract

This study investigates the commonsense view that 'people tend to marry people who look like themselves'. Various explanations of the observation of facial resemblance were considered by having younger and older raters judge the degree of facial similarity among pairs of photographs representing either actual couples, or randomly paired same age individuals of the opposite sex. The results suggest that the observation of facial resemblance among couples appears to reflect a real phenomenon. It was observed by both young and old, and in new as well as older marital relationships. The study provided no supportfor environmental co-existence, perceptual bias, or matching hypotheses as explanations for this facial resemblance. However, the results are consistent with an explanation based on the repeated mere exposure hypothesis, suggesting that through repeated exposure to their own face and to the faces of others genetically similar to themselves, individuals develop an attraction to faces similar to their own.
... In various cultures, similar-looking couples are often regarded as good matches. Consistent with this belief, previous research reported higher facial similarity for couples than non-couples, and that facial similarity predicts marital satisfaction [1][2][3][4][5]. This phenomenon has fascinated researchers debating on its underlying causes, ranging from mating for similarity in genetic composition for evolutionary benefits (e.g., in fitness and communication; [6]), seeking for a self-like partner as a form of narcissistic behavior [1], to forming similar facial features as a result of long-term exposure to facial musculature of the spouse's expression [5]. ...
... Yet this assumption has not been robustly tested. All previous studies used face images that included not only the intrinsic facial features but also other malleable extrinsic features involving hairstyle, glasses, earrings, make-up, or even clothing [1][2][3][4][5]. In a1111111111 a1111111111 a1111111111 a1111111111 a1111111111 Zajonc et al. (1987) [5], for example, the effect of extrinsic features was controlled by judging faces only with hair style and facial outline. ...
... In Experiments 2, we focused on perceived personality and asked if manipulating the differences in the perceived personality of two faces would cause the faces to be considered more similar. Apart from facial similarity, couple resemblance has also been commonly measured by having naïve observers to judge the likelihood that the two individuals are couples [1][2][3]5]. Experiment 3 tested whether the contribution of perceived personality to facial resemblance reveals specific information about couples. ...
Article
Full-text available
It is widely believed that couples look alike. Consistently, previous research reported higher facial similarity for couples than non-couples, and that facial similarity predicts marital satisfaction. However, it is unclear if facial similarity in couples shown in previous studies was solely driven by extrinsic features like hairstyle, glasses, etc. Also unclear is what attributes are perceived as similar from the faces of a couple. In three experiments, we showed that faces were considered more similar in couples than non-couples even without extrinsic features. Personality and age perceived from faces were also more similar in couples. Importantly, by matching pairs of faces according to their perceived personality, we found that a higher similarity in the perceived personality of a face pair led to higher facial similarity and couple likelihood ratings. These findings suggest that, instead of a result of pure physical analyses, facial similarity in couples is partly based on active social cognitive judgments on perceived personality, which may reveal the actual personality of the couples and thus inform relationship quality.
... The view that "people tend to marry people who resemble themselves" has been supported by many previous studies (Griffiths and Kunz, 1973;Zajonc et al., 1987;Hinsz, 1989;Keller et al., 1996;Little et al., 2006;Wong et al., 2018;Tea-makorn and Kosinski, 2020). These studies consistently reported that couples have higher facial resemblance than non-couples. ...
... In the case of pets, while Christenfeld (2004, 2005) revealed that people select pets that resemble themselves, they do not provide the psychological mechanisms behind such selection. However, some accounts have been proposed by Hinsz (1989) and Payne and Jaffe (2005). In our study, we considered the mere exposure effect and the algorithm "self seeks like. ...
... Mere repeated exposure to a stimulus produces a more positive attitude toward it (Zajonc, 1968;Hinsz, 1989). Repeated exposure enhances attitudes toward a wide variety of stimuli, including the human face (Moreland and Zajonc, 1982;Hinsz, 1989). ...
Article
Full-text available
Many often say that people resemble their pets or that the faces of manga characters and Buddha statues resemble those of their artists. Previous studies demonstrated that participants could match dogs with their owners, suggesting that pets resemble their owners. Other studies also demonstrated that people can match personal belongings, including inanimate objects, to their owners. However, it is unknown whether people tend to make objects that resemble themselves. In this study, we examined whether people tend to make objects that resemble themselves with dolls made of cloth as stimuli. The results demonstrated that people tend to project themselves into dolls, even in the case of amateur college students. The mere exposure effect or the algorithm "self seeks like" may be at play in not only people's selection of pets but also their making of objects.
... Furthermore, its findings have never been replicated. Two other studies occasionally cited in support of facial convergence (Hinsz 28 and Griffith and Kunz 29 ) neither tested this hypothesis nor provided any support for it. Both studies presented evidence for facial homogamy, i.e., spouses' tendency to have similar faces, but provided no support for the increase in facial resemblance over time. ...
... Both studies presented evidence for facial homogamy, i.e., spouses' tendency to have similar faces, but provided no support for the increase in facial resemblance over time. Hinsz 28 found that romantic partners' faces were more similar than those of random pairs of men and women, yet couples married for 25 years were no more similar than recently engaged ones. Griffith and Kunz 29 showed that student raters could match spouses' faces at a level above chance, yet found "no significant trend in growing to look alike as persons live together as husband and wife" (p. ...
Article
Full-text available
The widely disseminated convergence in physical appearance hypothesis posits that long-term partners’ facial appearance converges with time due to their shared environment, emotional mimicry, and synchronized activities. Although plausible, this hypothesis is incompatible with empirical findings pertaining to a wide range of other traits—such as personality, intelligence, attitudes, values, and well-being—in which partners show initial similarity but do not converge over time. We solve this conundrum by reexamining this hypothesis using the facial images of 517 couples taken at the beginning of their marriages and 20 to 69 years later. Using two independent methods of estimating their facial similarity (human judgment and a facial recognition algorithm), we show that while spouses’ faces tend to be similar at the beginning of marriage, they do not converge over time, bringing facial appearance in line with other personal characteristics.
... This would be in line with predictions based on the reason-based choice framework proposed by Shafir et al. (1993). Previous research has consistently shown that there is a preference for homophily when individuals are asked to seek a positive reason to pair individuals (Griffiths et al., 1973;Zajonc et al., 1987;Hinsz, 1989;Bereczkei et al., 2002;Bereczkei et al., 2004). Conversely, this means that homophily will not be used as a "reason" to reject certain pairings, precisely because homophily is seen as positive factor. ...
... This would be in line with predictions based on the reason-based choice framework proposed by Shafir et al. (1993). As previous research has consistently shown that there is a preference for homophily when individuals are asked to seek a positive reason to pair individuals (Griffiths et al., 1973;Zajonc et al., 1987;Hinsz, 1989;Bereczkei et al., 2002;Bereczkei et al., 2004). Of course this reason-based choice framework is a post-hoc interpretation of these results and would need further experiments that are specifically designed to test it. ...
Thesis
Our relation to our kin shapes much of our social world. It's no surprise then, that how we recognize and react to our own kin has been a widely investigated topic. In particular, when tackling direct kin recognition, facial similarity has emerged as a putative cue of relatedness. In this thesis, I investigate whether or not the same can be said for third party kin recognition. Split between two lines of research, we explore individuals' predictions of nepotistic and mating behavior} in third party scenarios using facial stimuli. These two domains provide the backbone of our research. Categorization must serve action. So, what would strengthen the notion of a presence of third-party kin recognition in humans? Facial similarity \emph{must have} a context-dependent effect on participants predictions, susceptible to valence changes in scenarios and switches from the prosocial and mate choice domains. This is precisely what we set out to do with our two lines of research. Though our literature review revealed that when context is starved participants seem to be able to detect similarity and seemingly connect it to relatedness. Our nepotism and mating series of experiments, by re-inserting context, offers us a different conclusion altogether. Within scenarios in which valence is modified and our participants analysis is bounded by predictions made by kin selection, their choices do no reflect a connection between similarity and relatedness.
... Furthermore, the faces of actual couples are perceived to be more similar than by chance. Hinsz [20] compared the perceived resemblance, by unfamiliar judges, of the faces of actual couples and compared these with judgments of randomly-paired individuals (or 'fake couples'), finding that similarity ratings were higher for judgments of real couples, see also [21,22]. Such preferences may likely arise through imprinting-like effects on parental traits [23]. ...
... In this study, we aimed to test this idea directly by adapting a methodology used previously for investigating assortative facial preferences [20]. We collected odour samples from both male and female partners in established romantic relationships, while refraining from use of artificial fragrance. ...
Article
There is substantial evidence for assortative partner preferences in humans based on physical characteristics. In contrast, evidence suggests that olfactory preferences tend to be disassortative, with people preferring body odour of potential partners who are dissimilar at key genetic loci, perhaps to gain fitness advantage through offspring heterozygosity. We compared ratings of perceived body odour similarity of real couples with those of randomly paired 'fake' couples. Contrary to prediction, we find that odours of real partners are perceived more, rather than less, similar to each other than fake couples. However, this applied only to natural odour samples: there were no differences in similarity levels of real and fake couples' samples which were collected while wearing artificial fragrances. Furthermore, in light of suggestions that hormonal contraception (HC) disrupts disassortative odour preferences in women, we compared odour similarity among real couples in which the female partner was using or not using HC at the time when the relationship began. We find that odours of HC-using couples are of intermediate similarity between non-using and fake couples, suggesting that HC use during partner choice could affect odour-influenced assortment. We also examined the association between relationship satisfaction and perceived similarity of unfragranced odours of real couples. We found that these are positively correlated in male partners but negatively correlated in the female partners, indicative of a sex difference in the relative favourability of odour similarity in partner preference. Finally, by comparing odour similarity ratings with those given by perfumers using a novel olfactory lexicon we found evidence that similarity judgements were based on the Spicy/Animalic aspects of individual odour profiles. Taken together, our results challenge the conventional view that odour-mediated partner preferences in humans are typically disassortative.
... Exploration of the new environments brought about by technological change has already helped to generate empirical insights on mating strategies, with a major goal of the new empirics being to isolate confounding factors. For example, over the past several decades, an extensive literature has produced evidence of what is probably the most widespread mating pattern of vertebrates (Burley, 1983: 191); namely, positive assortative mating or homogamy (see, e.g., Hollingshead, 1950;Warren, 1966;Vandenberg, 1972;Price and Vandenberg, 1979;Buss, 1985;Thiessen and Gregg, 1980;Hinsz, 1989;Mare, 1991;Thiessen, 1994;Thiessen et al., 1997;Little et al., 2006;Penton-Voak et al., 1999). Most particularly, it has shown that homogamy fosters altruistic social behavior, bonding, social cohesion and interaction, a common basis of norms and values, and better communication and conversations (Thiessen and Gregg, 1980;Buss, 1985;Kalmijn, 1994;Thiessen et al., 1997). ...
... There has also been evidence for a bias towards our own facial features when we attribute traits to strangers. The popular observation that couples tend to look alike supports the theory that, with increasing exposure to our face and genetically similar faces over time, we develop an attraction to faces similar to our own (Hinsz, 1989). Facial similarity also has a positive effect on perceived trustworthiness, group cooperation, and voter preferences in political elections (DeBruine, 2002;DeBruine, 2005;Krupp et al., 2007;Bailenson et al., 2008). ...
Chapter
Full-text available
We present a study on prototype effects. We designed an experiment investigating the effect of adapting a prototypical image towards more human, male or female, prototypes, and additionally investigating the effect of self-recognition in a manipulated image. Results show that decisions are affected by prototypicality, but we find less evidence that self-recognition further enhances perceptions of attractiveness. This study has implications for the psychological perception of faces, and may contribute to the study of Christian imagery.
... By analyzing married couples, we see they hold many of the same features, characteristics and attributes. This leads to psychological similarity and these couples are seen as more facially similar when compared to fake or generated couples (Vandenberg, 1972;Feingold, 1988;Hinsz, 1989). ...
Article
Full-text available
Short-term poaching allows men to gain reproductive benefits with a mated woman without the costs of commitment (Schmitt & Buss, 2001). The current research explores whether men (N = 38) target mated women for short-term poaches as a function of their and their partners' relative physical attractiveness. By manipulating a hypothetical couple's attractiveness discrepancy, we found that men were more willing to strategically short-term poach mated women who were significantly more attractive than their mates compared to mated women who were equally or less attractive than their mates.
Article
Full-text available
Lay wisdom warns against “judging a book by its cover”. However, facial first impressions influence people’s behaviour towards others, so it is critical that we understand whether these impressions are at all accurate. Understanding impressions of children’s faces is particularly important because these impressions can have social consequences during a crucial time of development. Here, we examined the accuracy of two traits that capture the most variance in impressions of children’s faces, niceness and shyness. We collected face images and parental reports of actual niceness/shyness for 86 children (4-11 years old). Different images of the same person can lead to different impressions, and so we employed a novel approach by obtaining impressions from five images of each child. These images were ambient, representing the natural variability in faces. Adult strangers rated the faces for niceness (Study 1) or shyness (Study 2). Niceness impressions were modestly accurate for different images of the same child, regardless of whether these images were presented individually or simultaneously as a group. Shyness impressions were not accurate, either for images presented individually or as a group. Together, these results demonstrate modest accuracy in adults’ impressions of niceness, but not shyness, from children’s faces. Furthermore, our results reveal that this accuracy can be captured by images which contain natural face variability, and holds across different images of the same child’s face. These results invite future research into the cues and causal mechanisms underlying this link between facial impressions of niceness and nice behaviour in children.
Article
Full-text available
Tested the mere-exposure hypothesis with 33 female undergraduates, each of whom was accompanied by a close female friend, in a context in which the plausibility of a demand-characteristics explanation was minimized. It was assumed that a person has more frequently been exposed to his or her mirror image than true image, whereas a person's friend has more frequently been exposed to the person's true image than mirror image. According to the mere-exposure hypothesis, the S should prefer her mirror image, whereas the S's friend should prefer the S's true image. A single frontal facial photograph of each S was printed in such a way that one print corresponded to the S's true image and another to her mirror image. In 2 studies, Ss were found reliably to prefer their mirror image over their true image, whereas the reverse tendency characterized preferences of Ss' friends. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Full-text available
This study attempted to determine whether people who live with each other for a long period of time grow physically similar in their facial features. Photographs of couples when they were first married and 25 years later were judged for physical similarity and for the likelihood that they were married. The results showed that there is indeed an increase in apparent similarity after 25 years of cohabitation. Moreover, increase in resemblance was associated with greater reported marital happiness. Among the explanations of this phenomenon that were examined, one based on a theory of emotional efference emerged as promising. This theory proposes that emotional processes produce vascular changes that are, in part, regulated by facial musculature. The facial muscles are said to act as ligatures on veins and arteries, and they thereby are able to divert blood from, or direct blood to, the brain. An implication of the vascular theory of emotional efference is that habitual use of facial musculature may permanently affect the physical features of the face. The implication holds further that two people who live with each other for a longer period of time, by virtue of repeated empathic mimicry, would grow physically similar in their facial features. Kin resemblance, therefore, may not be simply a matter of common genes but also a matter of prolonged social contact. A. L. Dear A. L.: As far as physical appearance is concerned, likes seem to attract. Some experts feel that this resemblance may partly be explained by the fact that couples who've lived together for some time usually eat the same diet and share the same habits. The Joyce Brothers Column April 1985
Chapter
This chapter discusses physical attractiveness in social interactions. Physical attractiveness is, in many ways, a homely variable. The physical attractiveness variable is unpretentious for at least two reasons. First, it is unlikely that it will be found to be orthogonal to other dimensions, primarily intelligence, socioeconomic status, and perhaps genetically determined behavioral predispositions associated with morphological characteristics. Second, it seems highly unlikely that physical attractiveness will ever form the core concept of a psychological theory, even a much needed social perceptual theory, which will illuminate the way to useful and interesting predictions about social relationships. The chapter focuses on recent social psychological evidence, which suggests that even esthetic attractiveness may be a useful dimension for understanding certain social phenomena, and, perhaps, for illuminating some personality and developmental puzzles as well. Perception of the physical attractiveness level of another appears to be influenceable by the affective and experiential relationship between the evaluator and the person whose physical attractiveness level is to be judged, as well as by factors unique to the evaluator and the setting in which evaluations are made, although none of these factors have been the subject of much study. The impact of physical attractiveness upon the individual has been highlighted in the chapter.
Chapter
This chapter examines the familiarity-leads-to-liking hypothesis, with specific reference to developments since the time it was formalized and revitalized by Zajonc in 1965. Zajonc suggested that the function best describing the relationship between exposure and liking takes the form of a positive, decelerating curve, with attitude enhancement of a function of the logarithm of the exposure frequency. “Mere exposure” refers to conditions that make the stimulus accessible to the organism's perception. The chapter begins with a consideration of studies that have related assessed or varied familiarity to affective reactions focusing on the conditions suspected of limiting the exposure effect or causing contrasting effects. The conditions under which different results prevail are identified to consider major interpretations. A good deal of research in the past has demonstrated that repeated exposures to some stimulus lead to a liking for it under a wide range of conditions. The effect has been found when exposures have been reduced to a fraction of a second, rendered unrecognizable, or increased to ten times the number used in Zajonc's initial experiments. The effect has been extended into the realm of interpersonal attraction, and considerable new data has been accrued concerning the relationship between familiarity and aesthetic preference.
Article
Tested the stimulus-value-role theory of marital choice which states that individuals tend to choose marital partners of comparable physical attractiveness to themselves. A total of 197 college couples who were "going together" or engaged served as Ss. Physical attractiveness was measured by self-perception, perception of the partner, and appearance judged from photos. Actual couples were hypothesized to be significantly less discrepant on these variables than a control group contrived by randomly pairing the scores of men and women. Findings support the hypothesis for self-percepts and photo attractiveness but not for perception of the partner. Results support stimulus-value-role theory and the concept of marital choice as an exchange-market phenomenon. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Chapter
HYPOTHESIZES THAT MERE REPEATED EXPOSURE OF THE INDIVIDUAL TO A STIMULUS OBJECT ENHANCES HIS ATTITUDE TOWARD IT. BY "MERE" EXPOSURE IS MEANT A CONDITION MAKING THE STIMULUS ACCESSIBLE TO PERCEPTION. SUPPORT FOR THE HYPOTHESIS CONSISTS OF 4 TYPES OF EVIDENCE, PRESENTED AND REVIEWED: (1) THE CORRELATION BETWEEN AFFECTIVE CONNOTATION OF WORDS AND WORD FREQUENCY, (2) THE EFFECT OF EXPERIMENTALLY MANIPULATED FREQUENCY OF EXPOSURE UPON THE AFFECTIVE CONNOTATION OF NONSENSE WORDS AND SYMBOLS, (3) THE CORRELATION BETWEEN WORD FREQUENCY AND THE ATTITUDE TO THEIR REFERENTS, AND (4) THE EFFECTS OF EXPERIMENTALLY MANIPULATED FREQUENCY OF EXPOSURE ON ATTITUDE. THE RELEVANCE FOR THE EXPOSURE-ATTITUDE HYPOTHESIS OF THE EXPLORATION THEORY AND OF THE SEMANTIC SATIATION FINDINGS WERE EXAMINED. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
Previous studies have failed to find support for the hypothesis, derived from Level of Aspiration Theory, that individuals chose to date those whose “social desirability” level is similar to their own. In the present experiments, which were designed to test the matching hypothesis, the salience of possible rejection by the dating choice was varied. Both experiments found support for the principle of matching in social choice. This support was obtained, however, not just under conditions in which rejection was presumably salient but for all conditions of choice. This and additional findings were discussed.
Article
Two experiments explored the relationship between familiarity, similarity, and attraction. In the first experiment, subjects viewed photographs of faces at various exposure frequencies and then rated them for likeableness and similarity. Familiar people were regarded by the subjects as both more likeable and more similar to themselves. The effects of familiarity on perceived similarity were primarily mediated by changes in attraction, although some evidence of a direct link between familiarity and perceived similarity was also found. In the second experiment, subjects viewed the same stimuli at a single exposure frequency, and received bogus information regarding the similarity of the people shown therein. Subsequent ratings of likeableness and perceived familiarity revealed that people who seemed similar to the subjects were regarded as both more likeable and more familiar. The effects of similarity on perceived familiarity were almost entirely mediated by changes in attraction. Some of the theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.
Article
Given pictures of couples at various stages of marriage, individuals were asked to match up partners. The findings indicate that there is physiognomic homogamy for married couples from marriage to approximately 10 yr. The years from 10 to 20 do not show physiognomic homogamy of any significance. The couples married 20 yr and more again show a significant physiognomic homogamy as demonstrated by the number of correct matches. It is concluded that there is indeed physiognomic homogamy among married couples (only one marriage era shows digression in detected physiognomic homogamy), but that there appears to be no significant trend in growing to look alike as persons live together as husband and wife. Future studies should use more couples at each stage of marriage so that the judges have greater opportunity to make mistakes. Secondly, pictures might be obtained from couples for various points in their married lives and pictures prior to marriage might be obtained from school year books. Physiognomy among engaged couples could be tested in this manner. It is hoped that further research along these lines will follow.