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New Study Shows We Pick Partners Who Look Like Us

New Study Shows We Pick Partners Who Look Like Us

A Stanford University study has delved into why we date people who look similar to us.

Joanna Freedman

Joanna Freedman

They say opposites attract, but when it comes to physical appearance, it turns out they don't.

A new study has found that we actually veer towards romantic partners who look similar to us, meanwhile it also proves the age old theory that we grow to look more like our partners is actually incorrect.

Pin Pin Tea-makorn, a PhD student from Stanford University, in the US, investigated the dating trend after spotting herself that many spouses seemed to look the same.

"It was a curious question I had," she said. "I had noticed that couples so often look alike."

She was then encouraged to dig a little deeper after a conversation with her supervisor, who told her about a psychological theory, which was coined in the 1980s by the late psychologist Robert Zajonc, suggesting couples merged as time goes on, due to the fact they eat the same food, live in the same environment, have a similar amount of time outdoors and even laugh a similar amount.

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Examining the theory by using computer algorithms, Pin Pin sought to categorise which parts of couples' faces had become the same over time.

She did this by looking through wedding anniversary announcements in papers, Google and newspaper genealogy websites in order to find people at different stages of their relationships.

Then, collating portraits of more than 500 couples, using images taken early in their marriage and then other snaps captured between 20 and 69 years later, she had her point of comparison.

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Pin Pin used high tech facial recognition software to assess how similar they looked, and also asked volunteers to do the same, presenting each person's partner alongside six other faces, so that they had no idea who the real couples were.

The idea was that they then ranked each face on a scale of similarity.

Publishing her research in Scientific Reports, she actually found that there was no evidence that couples grew more physically similar over the years.

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Instead, she discovered that people appeared to be drawn to partners who look like them.

Explaining the reasoning behind this, the researcher said: "People tend to like things they are familiar with, and we grow up with people looking like ourselves."

She added: "Another [reason] is that, in general, organisms tend to select a mate who is pretty similar to make sure they are not mating with a different species."

So, there you have it. Your partner hasn't grown more similar to you, you were just always twinning.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Science, Sex and Relationships, Sex & Relationships