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Proc Biol Sci. 2004 October 7; 271(1552): 2085–2090.
PMCID: PMC1691833

Facial resemblance increases the attractiveness of same-sex faces more than other-sex faces.


Our reactions to facial self-resemblance could reflect either specialized responses to cues of kinship or by-products of the general perceptual mechanisms of face encoding and mere exposure. The adaptive hypothesis predicts differences in reactions to self-resemblance in mating and prosocial contexts, while the by-product hypothesis does not. Using face images that were digitally transformed to resemble participants, I showed that the effects of resemblance on attractiveness judgements depended on both the sex of the judge and the sex of the face being judged: facial resemblance increased attractiveness judgements of same-sex faces more than other-sex faces, despite the use of identical procedures to manipulate resemblance. A control experiment indicated these effects were caused neither by lower resemblance of other-sex faces than same-sex faces, nor by an increased perception of averageness or familiarity of same-sex faces due to prototyping or mere exposure affecting only same-sex faces. The differential impact of self-resemblance on our perception of same-sex and other-sex faces supports the hypothesis that humans use facial resemblance as a cue of kinship.

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Articles from Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences are provided here courtesy of The Royal Society