Consistency of Eye Coloration Across Different Relationship Partners

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Studies have indicated that people are attracted to partners who resemble themselves or their parents, in terms of physical traits including eye color. We might anticipate this inclination to be relatively stable, giving rise to a sequential selection of similar partners who then represent an individual’s “type”. We tested this idea by examining whether people’s sequential partners resembled each other at the level of eye color. We gathered details of the eye colors of the partners of participants (N = 579) across their adult romantic history (N = 3250 relationships), in three samples, comprising two samples which made use of self-reports from predominantly UK-based participants, and one which made use of publicly available information about celebrity relationship histories. Recorded partner eye colors comprised black (N = 39 partners), dark brown (N = 884), light brown (N = 393), hazel (N = 224), blue (N = 936), blue green (N = 245), grey (N = 34), and green (N = 229). We calculated the proportion of identical eye colors within each participant’s relationship history, and compared that to 100,000 random permutations of our dataset, using t-tests to investigate if the eye color of partners across an individual’s relationship history was biased relative to chance (i.e., if there was greater consistency, represented by higher calculated proportions of identical eye colors, in the original dataset than in the permutations). To account for possible eye color reporting errors and ethnic group matching, we ran the analyses restricted to White participants and to high-confidence eye color data; we then ran the analyses again in relation to the complete dataset. We found some limited evidence for some consistency of eye color across people’s relationship histories in some of the samples only when using the complete dataset. We discuss the issues of small effect sizes, partner-report bias, and ethnic group matching in investigating partner consistency across time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-300
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number1
Early online date19 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023


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