Short Thought 111 (physical similarities)

I don’t know about you but when I meet someone and they have a strong physical resemblance to someone else I’ve known, I tend to attribute the same personality traits, for better and worse, to them as well. I have to work hard to trump the bias, telling myself, “This is not the same person.”

Much as I am regularly told, “You look just like so-and-so” (despite the fact I haven’t seen anyone who looks “just” like me), I don’t actually know if I’ve been on the receiving end of the phenomenon I describe above. Maybe I have and I simply didn’t know it.

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25 thoughts on “Short Thought 111 (physical similarities)

    1. daveb42

      All men with gray beards do look alike. I went to the Mathematical Society annual conference a few years ago. 10000 people all of whom looked just like me. Beards seemed to be mandatory—everyone had them.

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    2. writerinsoul Post author

      This starts to feel like a logic test question:
      Doobster has a common face. Some men with common faces have beards. What can we conclude?
      a) Doobster has a beard.
      b)Men with beards have multiple personalities
      c) All men look alike.

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  1. daveb42

    I think the phenomenon you describe is part of the way we categorize people, i.e. part of the way our minds work. There would be little value in noticing that a person looks like someone you know if you didn’t generalize from that to the assumption that they will behave similarly. I’m sure you have been on the receiving end of the phenomenon, but how would you know?

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      If we do this, as I do, I’d wonder if there was some sort of historical benefit to it (i.e., it served our distant ancestors), like, I don’t know, this fellow looks like the ones from the tribe that attacked us last year. But now, it doesn’t have much purpose so far as I can see. Just anecdotally, it doesn’t play out very accurately. That said, body types (ectomorph, etc.) may have some attributable characteristics, but even that is a stretch.

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  2. markbialczak

    I have a graying beard, so I must be somewhere between all and none of the above, Doobster.

    I do the same thing as you, Colette, assigning personality assumptions because of physical similarities. It sounds as if we’re not nearly alone.

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  3. vanbytheriver

    So many Doppelganger sightings over the years. I always thought there were a finite number of facial molds out there. It happens often when you move around a lot. I, sadly, have more bias about names than faces.

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      Sometimes I double-take over doppelgangers and sort of move in cautiously out of confusion.

      You’ve reminded me of a fellow I’d see around who I thought resembled Neil Young, so I attributed, from a distance, some of the same traits. Come to see, he “weren’t no Neil Young!”

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