Why Couples look alike after years in union



Have you noticed or are you wondering why
couples who initially had no particular facial
resemblance to each other when they first
married now resemble each other after many
years of marriage?
It seems weird for people to look for those
who resemble them when they want to choose
partners. However, over time, what seems
weird becomes an easy-to-get. It’s strange
though, a study has proved, with evidence,
that it happens. So, if you stay with your
spouse for a couple of decades, you will end
up looking more like him or her. But why is it
so?
The study published in the journal of
Motivation and Emotion found that physical
likeness between couples increases over time,
and through the years, couples’ wrinkles form
in the same places because of a lifetime of
shared emotions.
Sometimes, it is even tempting to think the
semblance has been there before they
married, but the study has shown that the
emotions people experience everyday could
change their facial features over time. The
increase in facial similarity results from
decades of shared emotions, hence, couples
who have been married for about 25 years
start to look alike gradually.
In the study carried out by Robert Zajonc, a
psychologist at the University of Michigan,
with his graduate students Pamela Adelmann,
Sheila Murphy and Paula Niedenthal, 110
participants were presented a random array
of photographs of faces, with the backgrounds
blacked out so that only the faces could be
seen, with an instruction to match the men
with the women who resembled most.
Two dozens of the photographs were of
couples when they first got married; another
two dozens were of the same couples 25 years
after marriage, most taken around the time of
their silver wedding anniversary. All the
couples in the photographs were white, lived
in Michigan or Wisconsin and were between
50 and 60 years old at the time of the second
picture.
The results showed that the couples had
grown to look more like each other over time
and the researchers ensured that the
participants indeed made judgements on the
basis of facial features rather than any other
criteria, and to the researchers’ satisfaction,
the participants, were able to tell who was
married to whom after 25 years with enough
precision that it exceeded chance or guessing.
“When couples spend a lot of time together
they develop empathy and start to experience
the same emotions together, most of the
time, such as stress, anxiety, sadness and even
happiness. Since these emotions affect their
face features, they start to look alike after
years of being together,” Zajonc said.
It was also revealed that the more marital
happiness that the couple said they had, the
more likely they were to have increased in
their physical similarity.
The young couples showed only a chance
similarity to each other, the study found,
while the judges found a definite resemblance
between the couples who had been married a
quarter-century. While the resemblances were
not dramatic, some seemed to involve subtle
shifts in facial wrinkles and other facial
contours, clear enough that the judges were
able to match husbands and wives when the
couples were older than when they were
newly married, and the resemblances were
greater in some couples than in others, the
study found.
In support, he points to the finding in his
study that those couples who were found to
resemble each other most greatly after 25
years were also those who reported the
happiest marriages. Zajonc contends that this
mimicry is sustained in married couples
because experiencing the same emotional
state is reinforced by its effects in
strengthening feelings of closeness.
Factors considered in assessing what could
make two people who are not related come to
look like one another included similar diet,
similar environment and disposition, but the
researchers settled on empathy, considering
that couples composed of people who feel for
one another would be more inclined to mimic
one another’s facial expressions, which tend
to leave evidence of their presence over time.
In other words, if your partner has a good
sense of humour and laughs a lot, he or she
will probably develop laugh lines around the
mouth, and so will you.
Other experts, mostly psychologists, agree
that shared emotions could gradually
sculpture the faces of a couple to become
more similar, and that common life
experiences over the years can alter facial
musculature and wrinkle patterns, leading to
an increased resemblance.
According to Dr. Ekman, such a process is
likely to occur in a married couple. “There is
no question that we unconsciously use our
facial muscles in the same way as the person
we are looking at,” he said.
A study by some scientists at the University of
Liverpool in 2006 concluded that, “possessing
personality traits that are attractive may be
causal in making a face attractive.”
The study has been greeted with divergent
views, while some people see this idea as
barbaric, most see it as a very sweet,
attractive and true study.
A sociologist, Dr. Atoh, in a telephone
conversation with our correspondent
wondered if the study could be scientific,
there is also a myth similar to the study.
A religious leader, Revd. Philip Chinagorom,
also said there was no spiritual or religious
backing for the phenomenon but that it tends
to happen when people stay very close.
An Islamic scholar, Mr. Adebayo Taofeek, said
he had also observed same and believed the
study to be true, though there is no spiritual
backing for it in Islam.
However, a Physiologist, Dr. Agona Obembe
said she disagreed with the study, noting that
it is not possible for married couples to look
alike, and that there is no physiological
explanation for such. “They can look alike in
terms of emotions by understanding
themselves better or even mode of expression,
but not facially, so I disagree with the study
totally,” she said.
On the other hand, a psychologist, Prof. Toba
Elegbeleye, said he had also noticed such
development and that he would not fault the
researchers’ observation, but that the reasons
they advanced, which was empathy, may
require further researches for proper
verification.
He said, “I can say it is a possibility and I
think the outcome is quite true, but as a
researcher, I want to believe there may be
some other reasons that may be responsible
because I don’t think it’s just about emotions,
so I would not want to indulge in conjecture
until there are possible logical reasons that
other individuals may advance.
“A follow up on the study is therefore
necessary maybe to locate such couples and
ask about their interactional history or
interpersonal relationship, which may
corroborate the evidence because some of
what they said may be based on conjectures.
“Other issues could also be to know if people
who live together for about 25 years without
being emotionally compatible also look alike
and does it work for cross-cultural couples
whereby one is black and the other is white?
Nevertheless, it is a commendable research
and indeed, it is true, but not a hard and fast
scientific outcome.
“If you do a crossover of such a research in
Africa, you discover that our own emotional
pattern here is different from theirs because
many people marry here for procreation
rather than some emotional connection or
activities, and even despite that, they still look
alike, which puts a question mark on the
reason the person gave as sharing emotions.”

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10 Comments on "Why Couples look alike after years in union"

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nelson mandela
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nelson mandela

hmmm.interesting.

johnedu mirian
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johnedu mirian

that is nice

Somchizzy
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9c 1

Softkid
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Rilly intresting

Victor Ndah
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wow 9ice one

Somchizzy
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Interesting indeed

Softkid
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Hmm…der is more 2 dis

Softkid
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Ya

Nkwazema
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educative

Nkwazema
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educative

wpDiscuz

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