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Do You Look Like Your Spouse?

Believe it or not, the often stated perception that married couples eventually start looking alike is being supported by science.

According to new research, couples who originally had no resemblance to each other when first married had, after years of marriage actually resemble each other, although often subtlety. What’s more, the happier the marriage the greater the increase in resemblance.

Why?  According to the psychologist who did the research, the similarity is caused by decades of “shared emotions”. The results came from an experiment where people were shown a series of random photographs of faces, and were instructed to match the men with the women who most closely resembled them. The test used two dozen photographs of couples when first married; and another two dozen of the same couples 25 years later at about the same time as their silver wedding anniversary. The couples in the photographs were white, lived in the same general region of the USA and were between 50 and 60 years old at the time the second picture was taken.

The younger photos showed only a small similarity to each other, while those judging the older photos of the same couples found a definite resemblance between them after some 25 years of marriage. The resemblances were subtle some shifts in wrinkles and other facial contours, but they were obvious enough that those judging could match husbands and wives far easier than when the couples were older. The explanation was that some factors, such as similar diets may contribute to the resemblance to a small extent, but the real reason was that married couples unconsciously mimic the facial expressions of their spouse as form of “silent empathy”. Eventually, years of sharing the same feelings and expressions, their faces subtly “mimics’ their spouse’s expression..

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