One question has been of interest to psychologists for decades: do people in long-term relationships start to look like each other over time? That is why researchers from Stanford University decided to check this ingrained opinion with the help of modern technology.
This topic appeared in psychological circles in the early eighties and has since become a common subject of discussion. Nevertheless, these observations have never been scientifically confirmed or refuted.
That is why researchers from Stanford University decided to try modern technologies used for the purpose of recognizing faces and started analyzing thousands of publicly available photos of couples, believing that they would finally solve this dilemma.
"It's something that people believe in and we wanted to solve it," said Pin Pin Tea-makorn, a doctoral student at Stanford. "We started from the assumption that people's faces start to match over time, so we decided to check which traits start to change first," the researcher added.
Working with her Stanford professor, Mikhail Kosinski, Tea-makorn searched the Internet for Google to find couples celebrating marriage anniversaries and genealogy sites to find photos of couples taken at the beginning of the marriage and many years later. They managed to compile a database of photos of 517 couples taken at the beginning of their relationship and 20 and 69 years later.
To test whether the faces of the couples became similar over time, the researchers showed the volunteers a photo of the "target" person along with six other people, one of whom was the face of their spouse, while the other five were chosen at random. Volunteers were then asked to rank how similar each of the six faces was to the target person. The same task was then performed with state-of-the-art facial recognition software.
In the original study in 1987, the late psychologist Robert Zajonk from the University of Michigan gave volunteers to rank photos of only a dozen couples. He concluded that the faces of couples became more and more similar as their marriages progressed, with the effect being stronger if they lived in a happier relationship.
Psychologists claimed that living together shapes people's faces, as well as the way they eat, live, the amount of time they spend outdoors, fight "laughs" and the like.
However, in their work published in the journal Scientific Report, Tea-makorn and Kosinski claim that they did not find evidence that the couples began to look like each other over time. But they found that at the beginning of the relationship, they looked more like each other.
That is why they assume that over time, couples will not start to look like each other, but that they chose each other precisely because of similar characteristics.
The study highlighted the importance of revaluing and updating previous research.
"One of the biggest problems in the social sciences is the need to establish new, incredible theories that will resonate with the public," Kosinski said.
In addition, the professor praised Tea-makorn for her courage to embark on this project, because most young scientists are not willing to "wave" and find shortcomings in the work of other researchers.
"Clearing the field could be the most important challenge facing researchers in the social sciences today, but she will certainly not be quoted and praised so much for her work, as if she came up with something that would be very interesting and 'popular,'" says Professor Kosinski. .
The next project to which this team will be dedicated is the claim that a person's name can be easily guessed only on the basis of the person's appearance.
An interesting story! There are a lot of couples who look like each other throughout their lives. I have a different case. My husband and I are so different that I think it's better that we didn't meet.