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Men Prefer Women Who Look Similar to Them: Study

Update Date: Nov 30, 2012 08:46 AM EST

A new study suggests that men find women who look like them more attractive.  

The study, conducted by a French team from the Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution de Montpellier (Isem, CNRS) focused on particular facial features such as eye and hair color, lip and eyebrow thickness and the presence or absence of a chin dimple, according to Medical Xpress.

In this study the emphasis was on similarity of features in men and the women they found attractive, unlike previous studies where other things were considered.

 The current study emphasized on the theory of homogamy, whereby people look for sexual partners who resemble them, extending it here to genetic traits.

Previous studies concentrated on finding out what kind of features made women more attractive. These studies  linked the physical or facial characteristics to their  hormonal levels and fertility.

Researchers  based the current study not on some features that offer any selective advantage, such as eye color and lip thickness but the experiment was based on two separate  evolutional hypotheses.

The first hypothesis was that of homogamy. In the past, it had been observed by scientists that many animal species prefer potential partners who look like them or in other words were genetically similar to them.

The second hypothesis was that of the uncertainty of paternity. This is specific to species which take care of their children. In order to ascertain that the children are their own, men prefer women with recessive features. This, they do, in order to identify their own characteristics in their children.  

In order to test these hypotheses, 100 men participating in the study were asked by the researchers to choose, from photos of feminine faces, those that they found attractive.

Later the experiment was repeated on another set of male participants, but this time, with faces generated and modified by computers.

The findings of the study revealed that men selected those women as attractive, who resembled their own faces. In the second experiment, given a choice between four faces, 37 percent men apparently chose the face they shared maximum number of features with.

However, the second hypotheses (paternity uncertainty) could not be proven by researchers on the basis of any evidence. For the study, photographs of real-life couples were also studied and analyzed by the researchers with at least one child, to determine if these actually influenced partner choices.

The researchers found that spouses certainly share more facial traits than two randomly selected individuals.

The importance of homogamy while making a choice of a partner has been studied only by a few researchers previously, and still raises many questions. For example, does descent from a couple that is relatively similar genetically offer an advantage?

The researchers now aim to study and establish if the existence of this phenomenon is local, and specific to the Western World, or if it occurs within other cultures.

The study was published on 21 November in the journal PLoS One.

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