Reactions to children's faces: Males are more affected by resemblance than females are, and so are their brains

Steven M. Platek, Danielle M. Raines, Gordon G. Gallup, Feroze B. Mohamed, Jaime W. Thomson, Thomas E. Myers, Ivan S. Panyavin, Sarah L. Levin, Jennifer A. Davis, Ludivine C.M. Fonteyn, Danielle R. Arigo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


The detection of genetic relatedness (i.e., kinship) affects the social, parental, and sexual behavior of many species. In humans, self-referent phenotype matching based on facial resemblance may indicate kinship, and it has been demonstrated that facial resemblance increases perceptions of trustworthiness and attractiveness [Proc. R. Soc. Lond., B Biol. Sci. 269 (2002) 1307-1312; Proc. R. Soc. Lond., B Biol. Sci. (in press)]. However, investigations of sex differences in reaction to facial resemblance have produced mixed results [Evol. Hum. Behav. 25 (2004) 142-154; Evol. Hum. Behav. 23 (2002) 159-166; Evol Hum. Behav. 24 (2003) 81-87]. Here, we replicate the effects of Platek et al. [Evol. Hum. Behav, 23 (2002) 159-166] using high-resolution color morphing. We also extend these findings using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to demonstrate a possible neural mechanism that may account for the observed sex difference. These data support the hypothesis that human males may use and favor facial resemblance as a paternity cue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)394-405
Number of pages12
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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