Psychology Can Explain Why So Many Couples Look Alike

The explanation behind all those doppel-daters.

Look alike power couple Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen (Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images)
Look alike power couple Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen (Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images)
Getty Images for UCLA Institute

Turns out opposites may not attract after all.

The surplus of look alike couples suggests people may actually be more inclined to seek out partners that look like them, and there may be a psychological reason behind it, Time reported.

A season 2 episode of Broad City addressed the phenomenon, when Ilana Glazer’s character unwittingly begins dating a woman to whom she bears a striking resemblance. The punchline chalks it up to Glazer’s self-absorption, but it turns out there’s a little more to it than that.

The attraction is actually less about arrogance and more about familiarity.

“What is familiar to us tends to be what we like and are drawn to,” Justin Lehmiller, a social psychologist and research fellow at the Kinsey Institute told Time.

“You’re familiar with your own appearance, so seeing other people who share those similar sorts of traits might lead to more liking for that reason,” he explained, adding that this underlying logic is often subconscious.

A 2013 study backed up Lehmiller’s claim, according to Time. In the study, participants consistently rated digitally-altered composite images of their partner’s faces that included their own faces as more attractive than composites featuring a stranger’s face.

The attraction may also be genetic, Time reported, citing a number of studies that have found spouses tend to be more genetically similar than strangers.

Some researchers told Time this may change in the future, as online dating means individuals are no longer limited to a geographically-local pool of genetically-similar mates.

Ultimately, however, Lehmiller said it’s impossible to predict future patterns of attraction.

“Attraction is this very complex phenomenon,” he said, “and there are so many factors that play a role in it.”

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