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, 59 (1), 50-57

Parent-Child Physical Resemblance as Cues of Man's Paternity


Parent-Child Physical Resemblance as Cues of Man's Paternity

Barbara Dolinska. Psychol Belg.


The article presents the hypothesis that in the formation of judgements about a man's biological fatherhood based on similarity of physical characteristics, people may take into consideration not only the similarity of father to child, but also of mother to child. The objective of the experiment was to conduct an initial investigation of that assumption. In the experiment, participants were presented with descriptions in which information was manipulated concerning the similarity of child to mother vs. to father vs. to neither of them. A total of 312 students of both sexes took participation in the experiment, having agreed to take part in a short psychological study immediately after classes were over. They were asked to read some short stories and to give their opinion as to whether the man described is the biological father of the child. It turned out that in conditions where the child's appearance was dissimilar to both of the parents, the participants doubted the biological parenthood of the father. In conditions where the child was similar to the mother, the certainty of participants that the man was the biological father was as high as in conditions where the story indicated that the child was similar to him. The results thus suggest that information about a child's similarity to its mother may, in some situations, be significant in the formulation of judgements on the biological fatherhood of a man.

Keywords: Fatherhood; certainty; parent-child resemblance; paternity; probability.

Conflict of interest statement

The author has no competing interests to declare.

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Grant support

The preparation of this article was supported by BST Grant from Opole University.

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