Like father, like self: Emotional closeness to father predicts women's preferences for self-resemblance in opposite-sex faces

Christopher D. Watkins, Lisa M. DeBruine, Finlay G. Smith, Benedict C. Jones, Jovana Vukovic, Paul Fraccaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Kin recognition is an essential component of kin-directed adaptive behavior. Consequently, potential mechanisms of kin recognition, such as learning a kin phenotype from family members (familial imprinting) or self (self-referential phenotype matching), have been the focus of much research. Studies using computer-manipulated self-resemblance show effects for both same-sex and opposite-sex faces and have been interpreted as evidence for self-referential phenotype matching. However, more recent research on sex-contingent face processing suggests that visual experience with faces of one sex has little influence on perceptions of faces of the other sex, calling into question how self-referential phenotype matching can influence perceptions of opposite-sex faces. Because children resemble their parents, familial imprinting could influence preferences for self-resemblance, reconciling these seemingly incompatible results for sex-contingent face processing and effects of self-resemblance on perceptions of opposite-sex faces. Here we show that women's reported emotional closeness to their father, but not mother, is positively correlated with their preferences for self-resemblance in opposite-sex, but not same-sex, individuals. These findings implicate familial imprinting in preferences for self-resemblance in opposite-sex individuals and raise the possibility that familial imprinting and self-referential phenotype matching have context-specific effects on attitudes to self-resembling individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-75
Number of pages6
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


  • faces
  • familial imprinting
  • inclusive fitness
  • kin recognition
  • optimal outbreeding
  • phenotype matching
  • self-resemblance
  • sex-contingent face processing


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