A shocking study published this April has revealed that women choose partners who look like their brothers.
A bizarre study published in the journal Evolution & Human Behavior has shown that women choose partners by selecting men that look like their brothers. This rather disturbing revelation should hopefully help scientists understand the theory of optimal outbreeding more clearly.
Optimal Outbreeding Theory
Studies into genetics reveal that when two organisms decide to reproduce, they aim for a middle line between inbreeding and outbreeding. The science suggests that things that are overly inbred, and too outbred, develop genetic mutations, with decreased biological fitness that lead to many health problems.
In other words, don’t panic ladies! Even though Bae looks like your brother Bob, it is not because you secretly have an incest fetish. According to the authors of this study, you have sought out someone with the genetic material to produce for you optimal offspring – hopefully.
Additionally, your cognitive functions would not likely enable you to be attracted to your actual biological brother. So yes, you can heave a sigh of relief!
Never fear ladies, you are neurologically programmed to be repulsed by your biological brothers. In fact, most species have the similar brain-wiring in order to ensure that they don’t fall victim to dangerous inbreeding. This is apparent even in creatures as small as the woodlouse. Even though their tiny brains have only 10,000 neurons, over half of those are devoted to kin recognition.
Those 6,000 neurons in the tiny brain of the woodlouse are dedicated to processing chemical odors. This means that evolution has been very effective. Even a small insect can smell who is a relative, and who is not, to ensure no inbreeding takes place.
Why do women want a man who looks like their brother?
Well, according to the study, this doesn’t apply to every woman. However, a woman may inadvertently seek out the familiar to repeat those genetic traits in her offspring. It is possible that she subconsciously deducts these traits as being optimal. Nevertheless, the study is not without its flaws.
The way the researchers tested the theory was rather weak. They gave volunteers groups of pictures to decide who looked most like the control picture of the brother. Among the four options were the picture of the boyfriend and a mixture of celebrity faces. 27% of the time, volunteers were able to detect the boyfriend as being the one who looked most like the brother.
What is weak about this, apart from using recognizable celebrities, who are clearly not going to be the boyfriend, is that the rate of 27% is negligible. Especially considering that experts see a rate of 25% is as random.
Other things the study didn’t consider is why a woman might pick a partner who looks like her brother. The researchers didn’t analyze the longevity of relationships between women and partners who look like their brothers. They needed to compare those with women who chose partners who look vastly different to their family of origin.
Nevertheless, as revolting as it sounds, it could make sense on an evolutionary level that some women want a life partner who looks like their brother. However, scientists need to do many more thorough and more intelligent studies about this theory before we can start to draw any reliable conclusions.