A new study to examine facial preference, has found that people are attracted to facial characteristics indicative of personality traits similar to their own.
Biological scientists at the University of Liverpool launched the study to investigate the reasons why many couples tend to look similar to each other. The team, in collaboration with the University of Durham and the University of St Andrews, asked participants to judge perceived age, attractiveness, and personality traits of real-life married couples. Photographs of female faces were viewed separately to male faces, so that participants were unaware of who was married to whom.
Dr Tony Little, from the University’s School of Biological Sciences, explains: “There is widespread belief that couples, particularly those who have been together for many years, look similar to each other. To understand why this happens, we looked at the assumptions that people make about a person’s personality, based on facial characteristics. We found that perceptions of age, attractiveness and personality were very similar between male and female couples. For example if the female face was rated as ‘sociable’ then her partner was also more likely to be rated as ‘sociable.’
“We also found that couples who had been married for a long period of time, were perceived as having more similar personalities than those who had not been together very long. This may come from sharing experiences together - affecting how their face appears.”