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Arch Sex Behav. 2011 Dec;40(6):1263-70. doi: 10.1007/s10508-010-9723-z. Epub 2011 Jan 26.

Preference for facial self-resemblance and attractiveness in human mate choice.

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Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Pécs, Ifjúság Str. 6, 7623 Pecs, Hungary.


Empirical studies present considerably consistent data about human mate choice, from which we may infer that it tends to be homogamous for various traits. However, different experiments on facial resemblance led to contradictory results. To obtain additional data about the preference for self-resembling potential mates, male and female composite faces were modified in a manner to resemble subjects. Volunteers were asked to choose a potential partner from three images in different situations: self-resembling faces, non-resembling faces (both with the same degree of other-rated attractiveness), and images which were rated by others as more attractive than the self-resembling faces. Women did not show any preference for similarity; they preferred the most attractive male and female faces. In contrast, men preferred the most attractive images of the opposite sex to self-resembling faces and the self-resembling to non-resembling faces. The self-resemblance of same-sex faces was preferred by neither men nor women. Our results support the hypothesis that both facial similarity (i.e., cues of shared genes) and observer-independent features of attractiveness (i.e., honest signals of genetic quality) play an important role in males' mate choice. The lack of choice for self-resemblance on the female side in this particular study might reflect their more complex decision-making rules that are probably based on other cues beside visual stimuli.

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