9 reasons why couples can look like siblings
Most of us marveled at the strange resemblance between a couple. While sometimes famous couples look alike (for example, Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen, or Vincent Kartheiser and Alexis Bledel), the couples in question are often friends, acquaintances or random strangers. This phenomenon has gained so much attention that people are now playing “sibling or dating” games on various social media channels including Instagram, Reddit, and YouTube.
But why do people tend to date those who are like them? Some explanations are obvious, but others are less well known. Here are 9 reasons why couples can sometimes look like siblings:
1. Introgroup bias
One of the most obvious reasons couples look alike is within group biases, such as same-race dating preferences. Same-race preferences in dating are driven by a variety of factors, according to research, including social media approval, perceptions of similarity, and perceived physical attractiveness.
In the United States, in-group dating biases are found among many racial groups, including Whites, Blacks, Latinxes, and Asians, but to varying degrees. In a study of heterosexual college students, all four groups gave same-race members of the opposite sex higher attractiveness scores than members of the outside group, but Latin Americans and Asian Americans had higher attractiveness ratings. rated whites of the opposite sex as more attractive.
Among people of the same sex, white men as well as white, black and Latin women have a strong tendency to prefer dating their own race. Despite their relatively diverse upbringing, biracial individuals also show same-race preferences in mates.
We are unconsciously drawn to those who look like us
Source: HuyNgan / Pixabay
2. Implicit selfishness
While same-breed preferences drastically narrow the dating pool and increase the likelihood that a partner will have similar characteristics, they are clearly not enough to explain why many couples look like close relatives. After all, there is a great diversity in appearance within racial groups.
Funnily enough, studies have shown that people are, in fact, drawn to morphs in their own faces. In one experiment, researchers mixed the faces of heterosexual participants with the faces of their partners to create a “self-based body shape.” They also mixed the faces of the participants’ partners with a same-sex “prototype” to create a “partner-based body type.” Although others rated the partner-based morph as more attractive, participants rated their self-based morph as more attractive than the partner-based morph.
The most attractive shape for participants contained 22% of their own faces. It is important to note that this preference did not work on a conscious level: the participants did not recognize their own face in the image.
Another study also found that the attraction to autonomic morphs operates on an unconscious level. Again, participants found the morphs based on themselves more sexually appealing. However, in a later experiment, the researchers informed the participants in the experimental condition that “We are interested in studying incest. We want to know how attractive people find faces designed to resemble genetic relatives such as parents, siblings ”(p. 1207-1208). Participants who received this prompt rated self-based morphs as less sexually attractive, indicating that this phenomenon operates at a implicit level — people are not knowingly attracted to people who are like them.
3. Familiarity effect
People may prefer those that are similar to them because of the familiarity effect or the tendency to like familiar stimuli. When we are exposed to a particular stimulus over and over again, we will tend to like it more because of the ease of processing. For our brain, easy means enjoyable.
One study tested the role of the familiarity effect in the perceived attractiveness of faces. In support of the familiarity effect, the researchers found that more distinctive faces were classified as less attractive and more familiar faces were classified as Following attractive. Additionally, increased exposure to faces led to higher attractiveness ratings for distinctive and familiar faces.
4. Game theory
Remember the famous scene from “The Beautiful Mind” in which mathematician John Nash (played by Russell Crowe) applies game theory to dating. John Nash and his friends all found the same blonde woman to be the prettiest. However, Nash came to the conclusion that no one would “win” if they were all for her, so they each have to choose their brunette girlfriends instead.
More attractive men and women are more likely to pair up, as are men and women who have similar facial features.
Source: tenuoanmaimai10 / Pixabay
Real life doesn’t work quite the same, but maybe a “balance” or an optimal outcome for all parties can be achieved by some other method. The researchers sought to examine two forces of human mate selection: the selection of “good genes” (eg, preference for the best) and “selfishness” (eg, preference for self-semblance). .
Through a random sample of 36 couples, they found evidence of both forces. First, the more attractive men and women were more likely to be together. Second, the couples looked alike in facial features. Therefore, people can get the best of both worlds by going for someone who looks like them, as automorphs are particularly attractive.
5. Sexual imprint
In addition to preferring their own face, people may unknowingly search for their relative’s face. Researchers suggest that young children can learn what a desirable partner should look like through a process called sex imprinting – that is, parents can mold for their children what their future partner should look like.
To test this idea, the researchers subliminally prepared heterosexual men and women with a photo of their opposite sex parent. Then they showed the participants photographs of faces of other sexes. In support of the sexual imprint, participants who were primed with an image of their own parent (versus someone else’s parent) rated faces of other genders as more sexually attractive.
6. Emotional closeness to parents
Most of all, not everyone prefers partners who look like themselves or their parents. Studies have found individual differences in these preferences.
Researchers have exposed heterosexual women to male and female faces that look alike. Women who reported greater emotional closeness to their father were more likely to prefer male faces (but not female faces). Self-reported emotional closeness to mothers did not influence preferences for male or female faces that resemble each other. Previous studies had found the same effects on women’s preferences for partners who look like their fathers. So, although the effects in men require even more investigation, people close to their parents may be prone to the sexual imprint (with the parent as a role model) when it comes to the appearance of their partners.
7. Similar social judgments
There may be more than meets the eye when it comes to attraction to physically similar partners. Researchers have found that the perception personality faces predicted both facial resemblance and the likelihood of a pair being a real couple. Researchers suggest that couples may have similar personalities due to the social cognitive judgments of others. In other words, people can associate with those who are like them because they have similar personalities due to the judgment of others towards them. For example, a person may grow up to confirm the expectations of others of him (because of his appearance) through self-fulfilling prophecy.
8. Corresponding body type
While many studies have focused on facial similarities between couples, another important factor of similarity is body type. Studies have actually shown that spouses are similar in their body mass index, weight and height. This resemblance in body type may result from preferences for those who are similar or from shared lifestyles (in the case of weight).
9. Empathetic mimicry
Sometimes as a couple not really look alike, until later in life. The researchers collected images of spouses as newlyweds and 25 years later. They found that spouses looked more alike over time and that this increase in similarity predicted better quality of the relationship.
They proposed that spouses (especially those who are close to each other) could converge in facial features through empathetic mimicry. That is, through empathy for each other, couples can experience similar emotions and make similar facial expressions, leading to similar facial musculature (and wrinkles / aging patterns) on a long period of time together.
Couples can be alike through empathetic mimicry (i.e. feeling similar emotions and making similar facial expressions)
Source: OmarMedinaFilms / Pixabay
Overall, although people scoff at the phenomenon, the finding that couples are alike is strong and reflects complex psychological processes. Teaming up with someone with similar physical characteristics can be a way of being with someone who is uniquely attractive to us, as long as we don’t realize it, of course.
Yet research suggests that there is more to it than meets the eye. Couples who are alike can also be similar in personality, lifestyle, emotions, and facial expressions, and they may also be happier together.