Couples don’t grow more alike

Scientists in the US have disproved an enduring theory in social science – that couples in long-term relationships come to look like one another. The “convergence in physical appearance hypothesis” dates back to a 1987 study based on an analysis of photographs of a small number of married couples. The idea attracted wide attention, and even found its way into psychology courses.

Now, however, scientists have re-investigated it – and have found it isn’t true. The Stanford University team compiled a database of pictures of 517 couples, taken soon after they had married and between 20 and 69 years later. They then assessed facial similarity using two methods – human judgement and a “facial recognition algorithm” – and found no evidence that the couples’ looks had converged over time.

But they did discover that at the start of a marriage, couples tended to look more alike than random pairs. Pin Pin Tea-makorn, a co-author of the study, published in Nature Scientific Reports, speculates that people may be attracted to people who look like them because we prefer the familiar: “Since we grew up being familiar with ourselves in the mirror, or our family members, we tend to develop likeability to people who look similar to us.” (The Week 24 Oct 2020)

My comment: Speaking only for myself, I would never have married my wife had I felt she looked remotely like me. She is exponentially better looking. In fact, just better all round. What weird subjects researchers do pick to research! However, Mr. Pin Pin (your name is the best bit of this snippet of news), thank you for a moment of amusement.

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