DeBruine LM, Smith FG, Jones BC, Roberts SC & Petrie M (2007). Kin Recognition Signals in Adult Faces. Human Behavior and Evolution Society in Williamsburg, VA, USA. May 2007.

Maloney and Dal Martello (2006 JoV) reported that similarity ratings of pairs of related and unrelated children were very strong predictors of the probability that those children were labeled as siblings by a second group of observers. Surprisingly, similarity ratings did not predict whether sibling pairs were same-sex or opposite-sex, suggesting that people ignore cues that are uninformative about kinship when judging the similarity of faces. Here we replicate this study using two sets of adult sibling pairs. While similarity ratings were also strong predictors of the probability of being labeled siblings, sex cues did influence similarity ratings, potentially reflecting greater sexual dimorphism in adult faces. Additionally, while kinship was more accurately detected from the upper half of child faces, here we find that kinship was more accurately detected from the lower half of adult faces. These findings suggest that strategies for judging kinship from facial appearance are context-specific.

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