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PeerJ  2015 

The self prefers itself? Self-referential versus parental standards in face attractiveness

DOI: 10.7717/peerj.595

Keywords: Face attractiveness,Assortative mating,Phenotypic similarity

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Preference for phenotypic similarity in assortative mating may be influenced by either a preference for self-similarity or parent-similarity. The aim of the current study was to assess whether people’s preference in face attractiveness is influenced by resemblance to the opposite sex parent’s face (parental phenotype) or their own face (self-based phenotype or “self-imprinting”). We used computerized image manipulations of facial photographs of participants, their mothers and fathers. The original photographs were combined with 78% of the participants’ opposite sex prototype face (i.e., male and female prototypes made from equal contributions of a hundred faces), creating morphs where the contribution from the familiar faces went unnoticed. Female and male participants ranked these images together with the opposite-sex prototype different familiar morphs. Each participant did the same for the morphs generated with other same-sex participants’ faces and of their parents. We found that the female participants preferred the self-based morphs to the prototype faces. Male participants showed a general tendency towards self-referential standard. Parental face morphs were ranked low in attractiveness, which may be accounted for by the age difference of the faces blended into the self-based versus parental face morphs, since we used present-time photographs of both the participants and their parents.


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