Researchers reveal that personality plays a major role in judgments of physical similarity, according to a new study published on April 29, 2018.
A team of psychologists from Hong Kong, led by Yetta Kwailing Wong studied physical similarities in couples and personality.
The team studied portrait photographs of 60 heterosexual couples who had been married between six months and 35 years. They eliminated the hair and clothing in each photograph, leaving simply the face visible. Another group of men and women were allotted to rate each photograph. These people were made to see photographs in pairs, half the time, the pairs of photographs represented real couples while the remaining half of the time, male and female faces were paired randomly. The judges were to rate the pairs on similarity based on attractiveness, age, and apparent personality.
The results showed that the couples looked similar in perceived personality. However, most of such an effect was explained by age, as certain personality traits are thought to be more pronounced at different ages. For example, extroverted young people or emotionally stable older people.
It was found that real couples did not match on attractiveness as compared to fake couples. This made it clear that these partners were more similar in apparent personality than in physical attractiveness.
In a follow-up experiment, Wong took couples and made each of them meet with someone whose personality was more similar than their partner’s and the opposite as well. These people were then paired and a new group of judges looked at these two types of fake couples, as well as the real couples.
The study found that fake couples with closely matched personalities were judged more similar in appearance than fake couples with poorly matched personalities. This confirmed that apparent personality does have an effect on how similar a couple looks. Still, the real couples were judged to be more similar than both types of fake couple. Clearly, there was something other than personality, age, and attractiveness that causes couples to look alike.