DeBruine LM, Jones BC, Watkins CD, Roberts SC, Little AC, Smith FG & Quist M (2011). Opposite-sex siblings decrease attraction, but not prosocial attributions, to self-resembling opposite-sex faces. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(28): 11710-11714. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1105919108

Contextual cues of genetic relatedness to familiar individuals, such as co-socialization and maternal-perinatal association, modulate prosocial and inbreeding avoidance behaviors towards specific potential siblings. These findings have been interpreted as evidence that contextual cues of kinship indirectly influence social behavior by affecting the perceived probability of genetic relatedness to familiar individuals. Here we test a more general alternative model, in which contextual cues of kinship can influence the kin recognition system more directly, changing how the mechanisms that regulate social behavior respond to cues of kinship, even in unfamiliar individuals for whom contextual cues of kinship are absent. We show that possessing opposite-sex siblings influences inbreeding-relevant perceptions of facial resemblance, but not prosocial perceptions. Women with brothers were less attracted to self-resembling, unfamiliar male faces than were women without brothers, while both groups found self-resemblance to be equally trustworthy for the same faces. Further analyses suggest this effect is driven by younger, rather than older, brothers, consistent with the proposal that only younger siblings exhibit the strong kinship cue of maternal-perinatal association. Our findings provide evidence that experience with opposite-sex siblings can directly influence inbreeding avoidance mechanisms and demonstrate a striking functional dissociation between the mechanisms that regulate inbreeding and the mechanisms that regulate prosocial behavior towards kin.

Disclaimer: The information found and the views expressed in these homepages are not the responsibility of the University of Glasgow nor do they reflect institutional policy.