Original article:

Sexual imprinting on facial traits of opposite-sex parents in humans

Evolutionary Psychology 10(3): 621-630 Urszula M Marcinkowska, University of Turku, Turku, Finland, urmarc@utu.fiMarkus J Rantala, University of Turku, Turku, Finland

Abstract

Positive sexual imprinting is a process by which individuals use the phenotype of their opposite-sex parent as a template for acquiring mates. Recent studies in humans have concluded that an imprinting-like mechanism influences human mate choice in facial traits. However, some of the previous studies have had methodological problems or flaws which might have invalidated or led to an overgeneralization of the original interpretation of their results. In this study, 70 heterosexual adults were used to test if their partners resembled facially their opposite-sex parent as the sexual imprinting hypothesis predicts. Judges assessed the subjective facial similarity between each participant's partner and their parent. We found that there was no perceived facial similarity between women’s partners and their fathers. However, men tended to pair more often with women that were perceived as resembling the men's own mothers. In contrast to previous studies, the quality of the relationship between participants and their parents did not predict the level of facial resemblance between the participant’s spouse and their parent.

Keywords

assortative mating, facial resemblance, sexual imprinting, homogamy

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Evolutionary Psychology - An open access peer-reviewed journal - ISSN 1474-7049 © Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young; individual articles © the author(s)
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