Women find romantic partners who look like their brothers, research finds


Olivia Blair
Wednesday 10 May 2017 14:39 BST

It has long been some sort of ‘old wives’ tale’ that many people have wished was not true. Unfortunately, researchers have again suggested that women find romantic partners who look like their brothers.

In a new study, published in the Evolution and Human Behaviour Journal, participants were asked the rank the facial similarity of photos of men, who they did not know where the male partners and brothers of the women.

The photos were sent in by volunteers (who might regret doing so now), other photos were of the brothers and partners of public figures and celebrities. Participants were given a sheet of paper which on one column had the brother of a woman and on the other column had four men: Three of which were random and one of which was the woman's partner. The participants were then asked who the man on the first column most resembled on the second.

Researchers found “clear evidence for perceptual similarity in facial photographs of a woman’s partner and her brother”. If the chance that a participant would pick the woman's partner was one in four, the raw data showed people were picking the partner more than that. Once the researchers had taken all the variables into account, the rate was around 27 per cent.

"[Our findings] were not a rule or true of every woman but we do find that, at levels greater than chance, partners did show some subtle resemblance to the women's brothers," Lead researcher Tamsin Saxton told The Independent.

Dr Saxton was spurred into researching the area after previous research indicated that people chose partners who resembled their parents, so thought a similar rationale could be applied to siblings.

She also suggested that "familiarity seems to be attractive" in that people often choose a romantic partner with perhaps similar views, interests or even a taste in music so suggested "maybe that is something that is coming into play".

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