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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 June 2007, 00:01 GMT 01:01 UK
Partner choice 'shaped by father'
Nigella Lawson
TV chef Nigella Lawson supports the theory ...
Much as she might hate to admit it, a woman's choice of partner may depend a lot on her own father.

Scientists have found women who were treated well by their dad during childhood are attracted to men who resemble their father facially.

But the link is lost on women who did not have good relationships with their fathers.

The research, led by a psychologist at Durham University, is published in Evolution and Human Behaviour.

Author Dr Lynda Boothroyd said the findings added to our understanding of how we become attracted to certain types of people.

Nigel Lawson
... her father Nigel is said to bear a resemblance to ...

She said such knowledge could have implications for fields such as relationship counselling.

Researchers said celebrities such as Nigella Lawson and Zoe Ball backed up their findings.

A comparison of photographs of Charles Saatchi with Nigel Lawson and Norman "Fatboy Slim" Cook with Johnny Ball reveals some close correlations, especially in the central facial area, including the nose, chin and eyes , the research says.

Rating attractiveness

Women in the study were asked to rate pictures of men's faces for attractiveness, and assess their relationship with their fathers.

The team compared the facial features of the men in the study, such as the width of nose and lips, to pictures of the women's fathers.

Charles Saatchi
... her husband Charles Saatchi

They found in women who reported more positive relationships with their fathers, there was a link between the faces the women found most attractive and their father's faces.

The study was the first of its kind to use facial measurements to assess the similarity of the faces.

Dr Boothroyd said previously it had been thought selecting partners similar to our parents was because our parents are the people from whom we learn what our species looks like.

But she said the research shows there is a more emotional component involved in the process.

Dr George Fieldman, a psychologist and lecturer from Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College, said the results were "very interesting".

He said it seemed to show an adaptive response to being treated well by our parents - women are making the underlying assumption people who look like their father might act in the same way as him.

Hence they are attracted to people who look similar to their dads only if their fathers treated them well as children.

Dr Fieldman said: "The paper shows that there seems to be an environmental influence over what we find attractive.

"It is important to understand attraction, as your choice of partner is a very important decision both for your own sake and for the sake of your offspring."

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