Researchers from the University of Queensland studied speed daters to learn how people judge face beauty.
As of 2021, there are approximately 61.45 million married couples in the United States. With so many fish in the sea, how do we choose our forever partner?
According to the research published in Evolution and Human Behavior, people find individuals who look similar to them more appealing and attractive.
The recent study says there may be some merit to the claim that we choose our life partners based on how similar their faces are to ours.
Amy Zhao from the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland conducted the study, the first to employ in-person interactions. The researchers conducted brief speed-dating sessions with hundreds of psychology students. The heterosexual participants were required to converse with people of the other sex for three minutes.
There were 682 participants in all, and 2,285 speed-dating encounters took place. Nearly 50% of the encounters included people of the same ethnicity, while the remaining 50% involved people of various ethnical groups.
"After each interaction participants rated each other on facial attractiveness, and kindness and understanding. We then analyzed their facial images to calculate facial masculinity, averageness and similarity between interaction partners."- Amy Zhao
She continued that they discovered how individuals perceived mates with average looks and faces that resembled their own to be more appealing.
"Participants also received higher facial attractiveness ratings from partners of the same ethnicity, compared to those from a different ethnicity […] interestingly, people with similar facial features rated each other as appearing more kind, regardless of ethnicity," she adds.
Zhao points out that the findings address the "major limitations" of earlier research that asked participants to evaluate people using images or computer-generated faces. She also emphasizes that more excellent knowledge of how people perceive beauty might "assist with dating and forming romantic relationships."
The team warns that given the participants' ages and the fact that they were all heterosexual, the results cannot be generalized to larger groups.
Zhao concludes: "Our findings suggest that faces that look similar spark a sense of kinship, causing people to feel comfort, familiarity and belonging with those who look like them."
- Evolution and Human Behavior. Objectively measured facial traits predict in-person evaluations of facial attractiveness and prosociality in speed-dating partners.
- United States Census Bureau. Number, Timing, and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 2016.
- Statista. Number of married couples in the United States from 1960 to 2022.