Why Do Couples Look Alike?

Over thanksgiving, my family came over and I noticed something about my Uncle. As we ate dinner i thought to myself, “he and his wife look like they could be related.” This is the first time this thought ever occurred to me. I remembered reading somewhere that it is said that the longer couples are together the more they grow to look like each other. It was the first time I feel like I experienced it in real life.

It turns out that there has been research to study this very phenomenon. One study tested whether or not people actually begin to look more similar after being together for a long period of time.

The researchers hypothesized that after 25 years of being married, the two partners would appear to look more similar. The null hypothesis would be if this is just a myth and that couples do not appear more similar to each other after several years of marriage. The study was set up so that volunteers were asked to look at a picture of a man who had recently married. They then were asked to look at 6 women who had recently married (one of which was the man’s actual spouse) and rank how likely it was that each woman was married to the man. They then used pictures of the same people and repeated the process, only the people in the photos were 25 years old. There were two different groups of subjects and in one of them the order in which they saw the pictures (like the older ones or the younger ones first) was reversed.


The independent variable that they looked at would be the age of the people in the picture. The dependent variable was the accuracy of the ranking that the volunteers. There was also a control group in which the faces of the subjects were covered to make sure there was no other way to tell if who was married other than facial features.

In the end, they found that the accuracy in guessing who was married was better with the older pictures. So they concluded that the longer people are married they more they look like each other and look like they are married to the other person.

I think that the sample size could have been bigger. They used two group of 37 people plus a third control group with 36. It could be due to chance, but it is interesting that it was overall more accurate with the older pictures. I also think that this could be affected by reverse causation. Maybe people who look like each other are more likely to marry each other, instead of people who are married begin to look alike. It could even be both of those combined.

The study itself did not really test any causation for this however. There a several different potential reason this can occur. One idea is that couples who live together use the same facial expressions. For example, if one person likes to joke then both of the spouses are more likely to develop laugh lines. Another could be habits like eating, drinking, and smoking habits that people develop because of their partner.


After researching I believe that couples may start to look more like each other due to their similar environment. This however does not mean if you marry someone with a big nose, yours will grow to their size. Your own physical genes do not change, but things affect how they may appear.




6 thoughts on “Why Do Couples Look Alike?

  1. John Rutledge

    Part of me before reading this article was skeptical because why would we date someone who looks like us. Then I thought about it for a little bit, and realized it kind of made sense. We find ourselves attractive people. Therefore, finding someone who looks like us is what our natural tendencies are going to be.

  2. Patrick Ryan

    That’s an interesting topic to write about because I have always wondered this too. I like how you talked about the different variables in the study because it shows you know what you are talking about and it helps the reader follow along better. Its nice to see that you can incorporate things we’ve learned in class to an outside topic. Check out this website for more about a claim saying men are attracted to women that look like their mom…http://www.menshealth.com/sex-women/are-you-dating-your-mom

  3. Raegan S Pechar

    First, let me just say that I HAVE ALWAYS WONDERED THIS! I think it is so interesting to see couple that have been married long term, and start to notice similar features in them – it’s also slightly creepy. When you mentioned similar facial expressions I laughed, I had dated this kid for 4 years, and by the end of the relationship I found myself mimicking his facial expressions at times. This article I found explains that if couples are more happy together, the more likely they are to develop similar features: http://www.livescience.com/8384-couples-start.html

  4. Matthew Edward Simco

    This is a very interesting post because I have always heard about this, but never actually seen a real life example of it. What you said about couples having the same facial expressions is very true, and something I have never thought of. Just simply having the same facial expressions as someone else could make you two look alike. One idea as to why couples may look alike is the idea that people are typically attracted to people similar to them. Usually, this refers to interests and hobbies, but it has been proven that it has to do with looks to. There is a theory that women look for traits in men that are similar to those of their father. Daughters and fathers tend to look alike, so if I women is looking for someone similar to their father, they could be looking for someone who looks like them. The article linked below talks about if women really look after men similar to their father, and why this is true.

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