Kin recognition: Evidence that humans can perceive both positive and negative relatedness

D. B. Krupp*, L. M. Debruine, B. C. Jones, M. L. Lalumière

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The evolution of spite entails actors imposing costs on 'negative' relatives: those who are less likely than chance to share the actor's alleles and therefore more likely to bear rival alleles. Yet, despite a considerable body of research confirming that organisms can recognize positive relatives, little research has shown that organisms can recognize negative relatives. Here, we extend previous work on human phenotype matching by introducing a cue to negative relatedness: negative self-resembling faces, which differ from an average face in the opposite direction to the way an individual's own face differs from the average. Participants made trustworthiness and attractiveness judgements of pairs of opposite-sex positive and negative self-resembling faces. Analyses revealed opposing effects of positive and negative self-resembling faces on trustworthiness and attractiveness judgements. This is the first clear evidence that humans are sensitive to negative relatedness cues, and suggests the potential for the adaptive allocation of spiteful behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1472-1478
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


  • Genetic relatedness
  • Kin recognition
  • Phenotype matching
  • Self-resemblance
  • Spite


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