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

Lisa Marie Debruine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2085-2090
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society of London. B, Biological Sciences
Issue number1552
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2004


  • kin recognition
  • faces
  • attractiveness
  • self-resemblance
  • inbreeding avoidance
  • human female preferences
  • married-couples
  • mate choice
  • similarity
  • average
  • appearance
  • perception
  • dimorphism
  • beautiful
  • homogany


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