Why many old couples tend to look similar to each other

Last Updated: Nov 14, 2011, 11:29 AM IST

New York: Choosing a partner with traits similar to one’s own is advantageous, as it ensures that our genes are more likely to be transmitted to future generations, researchers have claimed.

According to Philippe Rushton, a psychologist at the University of Western Ontario, physical likeness is used as a way to assess underlying genetic likeness, which can cause us to be subconsciously attracted to reflections of ourselves

In evolutionary biology, the phenomenon is called “assortative mating,” or “self seeking like”, and by mating with people who are genetically similar, one ensures that “your own segment of the gene pool is safely maintained and transmitted to future generations.”

Rushton and his colleagues have shown that the more heritable the physical characteristics, the higher the chance of mating between individuals with those particular traits.

Height and wrist circumference, for example, are far more inheritable than waist size.

“If you look at spouses across these characteristics, they are the most similar on the more genetic components,” Popular Science quoted Rushton as saying.

Robert Zajonc, a psychologist, found that physical likeness between couples increases over time, and through the years, couples’ wrinkles form in the same places because of a lifetime of shared emotions.

Rushton hypothesizes instead that lookalike seniors have always looked similar and that it just becomes more obvious as they get older, and as you grow old, “lots of distinguishing features drop away, like flesh on the skin or hair on the head”.

“It’s more the bony structure of the skeleton that’s showing through,” Rushton added.

ANI