Women tend to look for husbands who resemble their dads, according to some researchers in Hungary. That's pretty much conventional wisdom, and not particularly surprising. The reason I point out the article is because there are two strange assertions that are unsupported, and strike me as false.

Husbands and wives have long been suggested to look alike and this is known to occur in many animal species. Couples that look like each other are also more likely to share common genes, and having a degree of similarity is believed to beneficial. ...

"One good possibility is that there are some fortuitous genetic combinations which are retained in the offspring if both parents are similar," he says. "In humans there is evidence to show a lower rate of miscarriage."

However, he points out that there is a balance between the benefits of marrying someone genetically close and the harmful effects of inbreeding. "There seems to be an ideal balance, maybe around the first or second cousin point."

First cousins are generally too closely related to intermarry without a significant chance of accumulated genetic defects. Single instances of first-cousin marriage in a family will likely be just fine, but if the practice is carried on over generations the line will be severely weakened. There is a lot of evidence to support the notion that mating between widely different genomes leads to more robust children.
Imprinting is a fast, instinctive form of learning, perhaps best known from the phenomenon in which newborn ducklings bond with the first object they see.

To test whether women use imprinting to base their marital choices on the appearance of their fathers, the researchers took 26 adoptive families and examined how alike various family members looked. Using adoptive families meant inherited preferences could be ruled out. ...

The second showed a photo of the adoptive father as he would have looked when his daughter was between two and eight years of age, and the possible husbands. The third set showed the adoptive mother and the four possible husbands.

Imprinting is generally considered to be a myth among humans. Ducks appear to imprint, but human babies do not. Until around 6 months of age, babies probably can't distinguish one adult from another, and most don't get fussy about who holds them until 12 months of age or older. Human children certainly do become attached to their parents, but not via "imprinting".
An "unexpected" finding, says Weisfeld, was that fathers who were judged by their daughters to have showed the most emotional warmth were much more likely to have son-in-laws who looked like them.
This result undermines the above argument that women tend to select mates who look like their fathers because there's a benefit to marrying close genetic relatives. It's much more likely that this affinity is almost entirely environmental, and that women who had good relationships with their fathers will look for similar behaviors in their husbands.

Furthermore, doesn't it seem likely that men who have good relationships with their daughters will all share similar qualities? Isn't it likely that most women, regardless of their fathers, look for pretty much the same qualities in men? Those women with fathers who also possess those good qualities can be seen to be looking for the same things in mates, but really, that similarity is an effect of what most women want, not a cause of what any particular woman wants.

(HT: GeekPress.)



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