Journal of Ethology

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 81–85 | Cite as

Facial resemblance of Japanese children to their parents

  • Ryo Oda
  • Akiko Matsumoto-Oda
  • Osamu Kurashima


Facial resemblance between parents and their children could be an indicator of genetic relationship, and selective pressure could bias the resemblance of appearance. We assessed the degree of resemblance of 38 Japanese children (3–6 years old) to each of their parents using photographs. We asked nonrelatives to assess which of the parents each child resembled, manipulating indications of the sex of the children. Variance in the degree of resemblance between the children and their fathers was very large. Although the basic facial appearance of each parent can be reflected in each child with 50% probability, the children did not equally show the facial characteristics of each parent at the individual level. The indication of sex had no significant effect on the assessment of resemblance. On the other hand, a questionnaire given to the assessors revealed that, as children, they tended to be said to resemble the opposite-sex parent. This result indicates that alleged resemblance does not reflect an actual condition but rather might have cultural meaning.

Facial resemblance Parental investment Paternity confidence Parent–child resemblance Extra-pair copulation 


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Copyright information

© Jpn Ethol Soc and Springer-Verlag 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryo Oda
    • 1
  • Akiko Matsumoto-Oda
    • 2
  • Osamu Kurashima
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nagoya Institute of Technology, Gokiso-cho, Showa-ku, Nagoya 466-8555, Japan
  2. 2.Department of Zoology, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
  3. 3.Department of Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

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