One possible form of how children use parental models in their social relations would be if children showed more willingness to make friends with peers resembling their parents. To test this possibility, composite faces created from 3 to 6 year old children's photos were transformed to resemble facial images of their parents. The children were asked to show which one of the two same-sex transforms they find more appealing: the familial or the control face. Children who lived in emotional proximity to their parents, and in particular to their mothers, were attracted more to father-resembling faces than to unfamiliar ones. These results suggest that childhood experiences influence face preferences. This bias may affect social decisions later in adulthood, and could help to explain preferences for parent-resembling mates.
Authors:D. E. Re, V. Coetzee, D. Xiao, D. Buls, B. P. Tiddeman, L. G. Boothroyd and D. I. Perrett
Experience-dependent changes in mate choice preferences may confer an evolutionary benefit by shifting preferences towards traits that are advantageous for specific environments. Previous studies have demonstrated that prolonged exposure to one type of face biases perceptions of subsequently viewed faces and exposure to one type of body biases perceptions of subsequently viewed bodies. We tested whether preferences in facial adiposity were affected by viewing heavy or light bodies. We first assessed facial adiposity preferences by asking Caucasian participants (n = 59) to transform three-dimensional female Caucasian faces along a body mass index (BMI) continuum until they reached optimal attractiveness. Participants then viewed heavy- or light-bodied two-dimensional images with the faces cropped out before repeating the face preference task. Male and female participants who viewed heavy bodies shifted preferences toward significantly higher facial adiposity, while those who viewed the light bodies showed no significant overall shift. These results provide evidence that adaptation to certain body types affects subsequent preferences for facial adiposity, and suggest that adaptation to one body domain may affect preferences in other body domains.