wsConvergence in the physical appearance of spouses

by Zajonc, R.B., Adelmann, P.K., Murphy, S.T., & Niedenthal, P.M. (1987) 

Full Text Available in Motivation and Emotion

This study attempted to determine whether people who live with each other for a long period of time grow physically similar in their facial features. Photographs of couples when they were first married and 25 years later were judged for physical similarity and for the likelihood that they were married. The results showed that there is indeed an increase in apparent similarity after 25 years of cohabitation. Moreover, increase in resemblance was associated with greater reported marital happiness. Among the explanations of this phenomenon that were examined, one based on a theory of emotional efference emerged as promising. This theory proposes that emotional processes produce vascular changes that are, in part, regulated by facial musculature. The facial muscles are said to act as ligatures on veins and arteries, and they thereby are able to divert blood from, or direct blood to, the brain. An implication of the vascular theory of emotional efference is that habitual use of facial musculature may permanently affect the physical features of the face. The implication holds further that two people who live with each other for a longer period of time, by virtue of repeated empathic mimicry, would grow physically similar in their facial features. Kin resemblance, therefore, may not be simply a matter of common genes but also a matter of prolonged social contact.

Weird Science is a new item on Beerkens’ Blog. It presents a peculiar, remarkable, eccentric, extraordinary, unconventional, atypical, strange, funny, odd or bizarre study. In other words: a case of Weird Science.

This article has 1 comments

  1. Laboratory Recruitment

    Couldn;t it be more to do with the fact that as we grow all we all start to look similar to each other?
    Skin tones become similar, hair colour becomes similar, skin starts to sag – these are all things that define our uniqueness.

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