Parsing the mechanisms underlying ingroup facial resemblance

R. Thora Bjornsdottir, Eric Hehman, Darren Agboh, Nicholas Rule

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People prefer to form relationships with people like themselves—a tendency that extends even to facial appearance, resulting in groups whose members look alike. Here, we investigated the mechanisms underlying homophilic resemblance using facial photos of fraternity/sorority members from two time points: before joining the group and after belonging to the group for three years. Analyses of both subjective trait impressions and objective face-shape measurements revealed that not only did group members look alike, they resembled one another even before joining the group. Moreover, photos of potential fraternity recruits revealed that facial appearance predicted both the group that individuals sought to join and the group’s likelihood of accepting them. Individuals therefore seek to join groups consisting of people who look like them, and the groups preferentially accept new members who resemble those already in the group. This bidirectional preference for homophily likely perpetuates intragroup homogeneity, suggesting potential implications beyond appearance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)782-792
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number5
Early online date10 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022


  • homophily
  • group formation
  • face perception
  • self-selection
  • resemblance

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