Kin recognition is an essential component of kin-directed adaptive behavior. Consequently, potential mechanisms of kin recognition, such as learning a kin phenotype from family members (familial imprinting) or self (self-referential phenotype matching), have been the focus of much research. Studies using computer-manipulated self-resemblance show effects for both same-sex and opposite-sex faces and have been interpreted as evidence for self-referential phenotype matching. However, more recent research on sex-contingent face processing suggests that visual experience with faces of one sex has little influence on perceptions of faces of the other sex, calling into question how self-referential phenotype matching can influence perceptions of opposite-sex faces. Because children resemble their parents, familial imprinting could influence preferences for self-resemblance, reconciling these seemingly incompatible results for sex-contingent face processing and effects of self-resemblance on perceptions of opposite-sex faces. Here we show that women’s reported emotional closeness to their father, but not mother, is positively correlated with their preferences for self-resemblance in opposite-sex, but not same-sex, individuals. These findings implicate familial imprinting in preferences for self-resemblance in opposite-sex individuals and raise the possibility that familial imprinting and self-referential phenotype matching have context-specific effects on attitudes to self-resembling individuals.
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