The finding by researchers from St Andrew”s University explains why many celebrity couples bear such a strong resemblance to one another.
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, David and Victoria Beckham, Sting and Trudie Styler and Rod Stewart and Penny Lancaster, all seem to share very similar facial characteristics, reports The Scotsman.
It is thought that women are attracted to masculine men, but tend to trust them more if they also share similar features, perhaps because they remind them of their own family.
Psychology department post-doctorate fellow Tamsin Sexton, who carried out the research, said: “We wanted to look at how masculinity and resemblance affected women”s view of attractiveness.”
To reach the conclusion, researchers morphed a selection of male faces to make them look more masculine and more like the women who were taking part in the study to assess how they rated the images for attractiveness.
Women were particularly attracted to men who were masculine and whose faces bore a strong resemblance to their own.
“We made the images look more masculine by giving them a bigger brow, a broader jaw and smaller eyes,” said Dr Sexton.
“Previous research has often found that women can be attracted to masculine men, but also a bit suspicious of them. However, women tend to trust men more if they look like them,” the expert added.
The study, which has been funded by the Economics and Social Research Council (ESRC), will be published online by the scientific journal Behavioral Ecology.
Dr Sexton said the findings added to existing research about the science of attractiveness.
The expert said: “It feeds into other research suggesting marriage partners tend to resemble each other. People tend to choose partners who are a little bit like them.
“It may have something to do with genes. Picking somebody that looks like you may mean they have more genes in common with you.
“Another theory is that people change appearance according to their environment – so people who look alike may be well adapted to their environment.
“Or there is the issue of trust – that people tend to trust people who look more like them.”
Researcher Craig Roberts said: “When people rate what”s attractive, they have to consider lots of different characteristics. What”s really interesting is that masculinity was more important to women”s judgments compared with whether the men looked like the women.”
The study was carried out in collaboration with the University of Liverpool.