Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Looking Good in Those Genes

We've noted before that some studies have indicated that some (note: some is not all) people are attracted to people who look like them. Recently, there has been news that some men are attracted to women who look like their mothers. From

New research out of Finland suggests that men are likely to date -- and form relationships with -- women who look like their own moms.
Is that normal?
Uh, if it is normative for a sizable percentage of the population then yes, it is normal.
Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist, and author of "Why Him? Why Her? How to Find and Keep Lasting Love," discussed the study with Anthony Mason and Rebecca Jarvis.
There's a video at the link.

Doug Barry at picked up on this news and the headline of his piece called the study "creepy." Not that there's a prejudice against consanguineous attractions, or anything.

Creepy New Study Suggests That Men Are Just Hoping to Marry a Mother Clone It's way less creepy the way Fisher explains it, but CBS This Morning anthropomorphized seat cushion Anthony Mason does his level best to paint Fisher's segment (creepily titled "All in the Family" to really emphasize the incest angle) in the most lurid brushstrokes possible by posing the titillating question, "Should [men] date their mothers?" I don't know, Anthony, does the V.C. Andrews estate have a new book out that I'm not yet aware of?
Sigh. We get it. Some people are creeped out or disgusted, or perhaps protest too much. But can we agree to let consenting adults have the relationships to which they mutually agree?
Fisher talks about a study from the cold netherworld of Finland that suggests men are more likely to marry women who looked like mother. Researchers figured this out by surveying 70 married couples and comparing pictures of each spouse with pictures of each spouse's parents. Men were far more likely to marry women who resembled their own mothers than women were to marry men who looked like their fathers.
That's a very small sample, though, and I'd be interested in knowing if the personality characteristics of husbands of women match her father.

Oh, and now that I read the rest...
This is not, Fisher cautions, after giving Freud a not-so-subtle eye roll, to say that women don't also listen for paternal echoes in a potential partner, but, since men are more visually oriented, their predilection for mother-clones is way more apparent. Women, being more mole-like when it comes to physical appearance, might, says Fisher, be looking for unseen fatherly qualities in their potential husbands, such as the ability to not be a layabout, as well as the strength to give good piggyback rides.
Interesting. I usually point out that studies like this deal with very broad generalities. We should never imply that "all men like X" or "all women dislike Y." What we do know is that some adults do enter into lifelong romances and spousal relationships with their parents, whether those parents are genetic, adoptive, or step. So it shouldn't be surprising if some others seek out spouses who are like their parents. And there are other people who tend to be attracted to people who look very different from their parents or themselves, primarily attracted to people of another race.

You might find Jane Doe's new essay on Freud vs. Westermarck interesting.
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