NCBI ROFL: Having kids makes men see themselves in random children.

By ncbi rofl | July 30, 2012 7:00 pm

Fathers See Stronger Family Resemblances than Non-Fathers in Unrelated Children’s Faces.

“Even after they have taken all reasonable measures to decrease the probability that their spouses cheat on them, men still face paternal uncertainty. Such uncertainty can lead to paternal disinvestment, which reduces the children’s probability to survive and reproduce, and thus the reproductive success of the fathers themselves. A theoretical model shows that, other things being equal, men who feel confident that they have fathered their spouses’ offspring tend to enjoy greater fitness (i.e., leave a larger number of surviving progeny) than men who do not. This implies that fathers should benefit from exaggerating paternal resemblance. We argue that the self-deceiving component of this bias could be concealed by generalizing this resemblance estimation boost to (1) family pairs other than father-child and (2) strangers. Here, we tested the prediction that fathers may see, in unrelated children’s faces, stronger family resemblances than non-fathers. In Study 1, 70 men and 70 women estimated facial resemblances between children paired, at three different ages (as infants, children, and adolescents), either to themselves or to their parents. In Study 2, 70 men and 70 women guessed the true parents of the same children among a set of adults. Men who were fathers reported stronger similarities between faces than non-fathers, mothers, and non-mothers did, but were no better at identifying childrens’ real parents. We suggest that, in fathers, processing of facial resemblances is biased in a manner that reflects their (adaptive) wishful thinking that fathers and children are related.”

Photo: flickr/rsgranne

Related content:
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: True brothers from another mother: two different mothers pregnant with full siblings.
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Kin affiliation across the ovulatory cycle: females avoid fathers when fertile.
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Self-fertilization in human: Having a male embryo without a father.

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NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl

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