It’s not always superficial to judge a book by its cover

Social conditioning has taught us from a young age to avoid judging the members of the opposite sex, in the context of potential mates, according to his/her physical appearances. The reasoning is, one’s ‘inside’ is just as important, if not more, than one’s outside.

While I agree that one’s personality is essential to romantic compatibility, much research has shown that there is certainly a good reason to determine one’s potential as a romantic partner through her appearances.

Note that this post is merely focused on facial appearances. As its well-known men are biologically drawn to women with waist-to-hip ratio of 0.7, and women are biologically drawn to men with shoulder-to-waist ratio of 1.617. Also, everyone likes symmetry.

It’s a common knowledge that an old couple that have been together for a long time, somehow resembles each other.

University of Michigan psychologist Robert Zajonc conducted an experiment to test this phenomenon. He analyzed photographs of couples taken when they were newlyweds and photographs of the same couples taken 25 years later.

The results showed that the couples had grown to look more like each other over time. And, the happier that the couple said they were, the more likely they were to have increased in their physical similarity.

Zajonc suggested that older couples looked more alike because people in close contact mimic each other’s facial expressions. In other words, if your partner has a good sense of humor and laughs a lot, he or she will probably develop laugh lines around their mouth — and so will you.

This shows personality compatibility leads to similarity in appearance. However, this does not justify seeking partners based on appearances yet.

In another study, a researcher at the University of Western Ontairo determined that when considering friends or romantic partners, a si­milar genetic profile made up about a third of the selection criteria. We may think subconsciously that people who are genetically similar work better together. Consequently, we look for physical or emotional cues that tell us that this potential friend, husband or wife is genetically similar to us.

So assuming no close relative mating, people prefer to work/flirt with people that are more likely to look like ourselves (assuming one has a healthy self-esteem and doesn’t despise how he looks). Of course, there is the matter of dating outside one’s league appearance-wise, but for the sake of discussion, let’s ignore that.

How do people know if someone’s genetically similar to them? Asking for a DNA sample on the first date would, at best be a nerdy innuendo, and at worst would earn you a a drink in the face. Enters Sexual Imprinting, defined as “the means by which a young bird [creature] learns species-specific characteristics that enables it to find a conspecific mate when adult. These characteristics are usually learned through the parents”.

A study involving researchers from several universities showed that women prefer menwho look like their fathers. Even women who were adopted seem to share the same predilection. Tamas Bereczkei, a researcher at Hungary’s University of Pecs who was involved in the study [found] that women use their fathers as models by which they judge their prospective mates.

The study also found that a close father-daughter relationship more often resulted in a woman marrying someone who looked like her father.

So guys, act like your girl’s father to impress her even more. Barney (from HIMYM)’s strategy of exploiting daddy issues to bed a girl seems reasonable after all.

One last study:

Other evidence has also shown that men and women may be initially attracted to partners with similar personalities. In 2006, scientists at the University of Liverpool asked participants in a study to view individual photos of men and women and judge their personalities. The participants did not know who in the photos was married to whom, but the couples that had been together the longest were judged to have more similar personalities. The researchers concluded that, “possessing personality traits that are attractive may be causal in making a face attractive.”

Ha, the reverse Halo Effect. Assuming one has a healthy esteem, he will judge someone who has similar personality characteristics to be more attractive–just as how better looking people are usually judged to be more capable.

Armed with all these scientific evidence, a new internet dating site has entered the market: Soul2Match, which instead of calculating two people’s compatibility based on answers to questions (like OkCupid), calculates “Match” based on two people’s facial features. The reason, of course, is that two people with high romantic potential (personality, genetic similarity) tend to look similar.

Curious, yours truly created an account, snapped a mug shot, and start matching to girls around my age. Couple results after playing with the site’s matching algorithm:

  • The highest match I’ve gotten is 40%, while almost everyone else on the site has achieved the 80% mark. I must be a very unique individual…probably too good looking.
  • I consistently obtain a higher match with Caucasians…
  • I obtained a 90% match with my grandfather!

Me & Grandpa


About collapsedwavefn

I have a lot of thoughts. Some of them I'd like to share.
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