Do people in relationships start to look alike after a long time together?
A new study that probed this very question concluded that the long-held assumption may not hold muster.
Research titled “Spouses’ faces are similar but do not become more similar with time” was published in the journal Scientific Reports on Monday.
The paper argues that while people are attracted to others who look similar to themselves, there is no evidence that time exacerbates similarities.
The study, authored by Stanford PhD candidate Pin Pin Tea-makorn and Stanford associate professor Michal Kosinski, takes as its launching pad a theory laid out by psychologist Robert Zajonc in a 1987 paper titled “Convergence in the physical appearance of spouses.”
Zajonc’s research evaluated the small sample size of a dozen couples and concluded that their faces grow similar throughout marriage due to shared environment, emotions and activities, reports The Guardian, reports New York Post.
Tea-makorn and Kosinski said that while Zajonc’s theory is “plausible,” their own study’s analysis of 517 couples at the beginning of their marriages and photos of them 20 to 69 years later found their faces “do not converge over time.”
The likenesses, the authors argue, have more to do humans’ tendencies to be attracted to others who are similar to them.
“Romantic partners tend to be similar in a wide range of characteristics,” the researchers wrote.
“Long-term romantic partners have been shown to be similar in terms of height, weight, health, diet, age, physical attractiveness, education, ability, intelligence, psychological well-being, personality, attitudes, values, religion, social class, ethnicity, lifestyle and many other traits.”