Sexual imprinting in humans

BBC article:
Page last updated at 07:05 GMT, Wednesday, 3 September 2008 08:05 UK

Women pick men who look like dad

Women tend to choose husbands who look like their fathers, a study shows.

And it works both ways - the women in the Proceedings B study also resembled their partner's mother.

The latest work from the University of Pécs in Hungary provides yet more evidence for the phenomenon, known as sexual imprinting.

[. . .]

They found significant correlations between the young men and their fathers-in-law, especially on facial proportions belonging to the central area of face - nose and eyes.

Women also showed resemblance to their mothers-in-law in the facial characteristics of their lower face - lips and jaw.

Lead researcher Tamas Bereczkei said: "Our results support the sexual imprinting hypothesis which states that children shape a mental template of their opposite-sex parents and search for a partner who resembles that perceptual schema."

[. . .]

Experts say there may be an advantage to selecting a mate somewhat similar to themselves genetically.

Dr Lynda Boothroyd from the University of Durham, a psychologist who has carried out similar research, said: "There is an argument that a certain degree of similarity makes people more fertile and genetically compatible."
The abstract:
Facialmetric similarities mediate mate choice: sexual imprinting on opposite-sex paents
DOI 10.1098/rspb.2008.1021
Online Date Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Tamas Bereczkei, Gabor Hegedus, Gabor Hajnal

Former studies have suggested that imprinting-like processes influence the shaping of human mate preferences. In this study, we provide more direct evidence for assessing facial resemblance between subjects' partner and subjects' parents. Fourteen facial proportions were measured on 312 adults belonging to 52 families, and the correlations between family members were compared with those of pairs randomly selected from the population. Spouses proved to be assortatively mated in the majority of measured facial proportions. Significant correlations have been found between the young men and their partner's father (but not his mother), especially on facial proportions belonging to the central area of the face. Women also showed resemblance to their partner's mother (but not to their father) in the facial characteristics of their lower face. Replicating our previous studies, facial photographs of participants were also matched by independent judges who ascribed higher resemblance between partners, and subjects and their partners' opposite-sex parents, compared with controls. Our results support the sexual imprinting hypothesis which states that children shape a mental template of their opposite-sex parents and search for a partner who resembles that perceptual schema. The fact that only the facial metrics of opposite-sex parents showed resemblance to the partner's face tends to rule out the role of familiarity in shaping mating preferences. Our findings also reject several other rival hypotheses. The adaptive value of imprinting-related human mating is discussed, and a hypothesis is made of why different facial areas are involved in males' and females' search for resemblance.

Keywords
facial resemblance, sexual imprinting, homogamy

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

"...a certain degree of similarity makes people more fertile and genetically compatible."

Really? Then will someone kindly explain why is it that spics, who are horribly mongrelized, breed like cockroaches?

White birthrates throughout Europe, on the other hand, are dismal.

n/a said...

"Really?"

Yes. Controlling for environmental/cultural factors, obviously.

Anonymous said...

"Controlling for environmental/cultural factors, obviously."

I read the website you posted about fertility in Iceland. While it was interesting, it did little to answer my earlier question about why spics (and Southern Asiatics, another mongrelized bunch) have higher birthrates compared to Whites (and NE Asians, for that matter).

Something the researchers might be overlooking is the fact that Icelanders are a HOMOGENOUS group of humans descended from a founder population about 1,000 years ago. It's possible they possess biological factors others are missing. I'd like to see this research reproduced elsewhere before I'm convinced.

n/a said...

There's a huge literature on factors influencing birth rates in the modern world. Google "demographic transition", to start, if you want to know more.

With the availability of birth control, realized fertility will have little or nothing to do with differences in genetic compatibility.

Even Mexican family sizes today are small compared to those of colonial Americans, for example.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information. I obviously have a lot of reading to do on this particular subject.