You might have a type—a certain look that you're attracted to. But have you ever wondered why a given type is your type? New research shows your parents might have more to do with your taste than you think.
Previous studies have shown that we might choose mates who are similar to our parents, a theory popularized by psychologist Sigmund Freud. A group of researchers from the University of Glasgow and the University of Bath decided to investigate further the link between our mothers and fathers and our particular romantic interests.
In the study, the scientists asked 300 men and women about the eye colors of parents and dating partners. They found that straight men and gay women preferred women who shared the same eye color as their moms. Likewise, straight women and gay men most often dated guys who had the same eye color as their dads. Overall, the participants were twice as likely to go for someone who shared the same eye color as the parent of the gender they’re attracted to.
The study has not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal. That means the results may be less reliable than more rigorously reviewed studies that have been published.
As The Independent reports, the theory behind the study is known as sexual imprinting, which views mate attraction as inherently tied to parents, among both humans and animals. The new findings add to research from 2003 that indicated people tended to pick boyfriends or girlfriends based on the eye and hair color of their opposite sex parent.
The connection isn't necessarily genetic. A study from 2004 found that DNA could not explain why we're drawn to someone who physically resembles our immediate family. In this experiment, researchers tapped women who had adopted fathers to rule out such a connection. Images of the participants’ husbands and adopted dads were analyzed by judges. They found that the husbands’ facial features significantly resembled the fathers. And women who had better relationships with their dads had husbands who looked more similar to their fathers.
It’s not just our parents who influence the kind of people we date. In May, scientists found that women might choose husbands who look like their brothers, too. The team enlisted people to judge the faces of 52 husband and brother pairs, identifying similarity, reports the Global News in Canada. The data showed that although not all women picked husbands who resembled their brothers, there were shared facial qualities among the groups.
This newest study may be a little unsettling, and raises questions about whether Freud was onto something. Many of his theories have been discredited over the years, but his beliefs that we’re all attracted to our parents might just have some merit.