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Do opposites attract? According to a new dating study, no — at least not when it comes to looks

A new study analyzed how students rated physical looks during speed-dating sessions, and the results found that the participants rated people who looked like them as more attractive. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Ask anyone who has a sibling whether they think their brother or sister is attractive, and you’ll probably get a hard “no.” (Maybe even a disgusted “no.”) That’s not a surprising answer, and it’s just biology to not be romantically attached to family members.

Yet the phrase “opposites attract” seems to ring false — at least when it comes to looks — according to a new study out of the University of Queensland published in Evolution and Human Behavior. The study analyzed how students rated physical looks during speed-dating sessions, and the results found that the participants rated people who looked like them as more attractive.

“We found that participants rated partners who had geometrically average faces and faces similar to their own as more attractive,” said lead author and Ph.D. student Amy Zhao in the university’s release.

“Participants also received higher facial attractiveness ratings from partners of the same ethnicity, compared to those from a different ethnicity,” she added. “Interestingly, people with similar facial features rated each other as appearing [kinder], regardless of ethnicity.”

The reasoning for this finding?

“Our findings suggest that faces that look similar spark a sense of kinship, causing people to feel comfort, familiarity and belonging with those who look like them,” Zhao said.

Like any dating trend discovered or noticed by the internet, there’s even a name for this phenomenon: “doppelbangers.” It’s a play on doppelgänger, the German word for a nearly identical look-alike.

And it’s even been the theme of TV shows. In the HBO comedy-drama series “The Sex Lives of College Girls,” Leighton Murray (played by Reneé Rapp) tells her roommates that her type is “a 5-foot-6 blond woman from a cosmopolitan city — preferably New York,” and fans of the show (or a quick Google search) can tell you she’s essentially describing herself.

With online dating more popular than ever, many people are basing their relationships on physical attraction in a split-second decision — if you like someone’s photo on Bumble, you swipe right; if not, you swipe left and never see them again.

But the study might make you think twice about your own biases — and how basing your decisions off looks doesn’t always lead to the perfect match. (Just ask Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen.)

The study may have found that opposites don’t attract when it comes to physical looks, but maybe your soulmate is your opposite in personality.

An introvert can be brought out of their shell by an extrovert, and a party animal might benefit from someone who prefers a night in. Maybe you like to travel the world, but with the right person, you don’t need more than a one-bedroom apartment. Or if you spend all your time inside, you might pass on someone who describes themselves as outdoorsy … until you’ve tried it.

Sure, it’s nice to have a few common interests to share, but you might find that some of your favorite hobbies are things you haven’t even tried yet. And more importantly, your outlook on the world and values should align to a degree.

The point is that, whether we like it or not, we all have a bias when it comes to looks — but that might be holding you back from making a meaningful connection.

The next time you’re scrolling through a dating app or website, challenge yourself to go beyond looks and actually read someone’s profile. Suddenly that average-looking person can become a whole lot more interesting when you find out what they have to offer.


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