Facial resemblance between women's partners and brothers

Tamsin Saxton, Catherine Steel, Katie Rowley, Amy Newman, Thom Baguley

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Abstract

Research on optimal outbreeding describes the greater reproductive success experienced on average by couples who are neither too closely related, nor too genetically dissimilar. How is optimal outbreeding achieved? Faces that subtly resemble family members could present useful cues to a potential reproductive partner with an optimal level of genetic dissimilarity. Here, we present the first empirical data that heterosexual women select partners who resemble their brothers. Raters ranked the facial similarity between a woman’s male partner, and that woman’s brother compared to foils. In a multilevel ordinal logistic regression that modeled variability in both the stimuli and the raters, there was clear evidence for perceptual similarity in facial photographs of a woman’s partner and her brother. That is, although siblings themselves are sexually aversive, sibling resemblance is not. The affective responses of disgust and attraction may be calibrated to distinguish close kin from individuals with some genetic dissimilarity during partner choice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-433
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Volume38
Issue number4
Early online date24 Apr 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017

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