[Paleopsych] NYT: Really?: The Claim: Babies Tend to Look Like Their Fathers
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Wed Apr 13 15:01:19 UTC 2005
Really?: The Claim: Babies Tend to Look Like Their Fathers
March 22, 2005
By ANAHAD O'CONNOR
THE FACTS It's one of the first questions to cross a new parent's
mind. Does the baby look like me? Studies suggest that, for fathers,
the answer is usually yes.
In 1995, a study in Nature put the question to the test by having 122
people try to match pictures of children they didn't know - at one
year, 10 years and 20 years- with photos of their mothers and fathers.
The group members correctly paired about half of the infants with
their fathers, but their success rate was much lower matching infants
and mothers. And matching the 20-year-olds with either parent proved
to be just as hard.
The authors offered an evolutionary explanation for their findings:
the phenomenon is a natural paternity test.
A father, unlike a mother, cannot always be sure a baby is his. If he
spots a resemblance, the authors argued, he will know the child is his
and will be more likely to protect and care for it, benefiting both
mother and baby.
Another study, published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior
in 2003, seems to support this.
The researchers took head shots of a group of people and morphed them
with photos of baby faces without the subjects' knowledge.
When they presented the subjects with the faces, the men were more
likely to indicate they would adopt or spend time with the babies,
male and female, who had more of their facial characteristics.
The women in the study, however, showed no preference for children
with their features.
THE BOTTOM LINE Infants are more likely to resemble their dads.
scitimes at nytimes.com
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