The Real Reason You and Your Friends Look So Much Alike

Updated: May 01, 2023

There's an actual reason why you and your friends look alike, and it's not just because you share the same clothes.


If you ever refer to your best friend as your twin, you’re probably not too far off from the truth. According to a recent study published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, “…Individuals’ group membership can be accurately classified both from ratings of members’ faces, and from direct measurement of members’ faces.”

There are actually two psychological reasons for this strange phenomenon. First, homophily comes into play. Homophily, in short, is the tendency for humans to associate themselves with people who have similar backgrounds and views on life. This may be due to a certain degree of comfort that is experienced when seeing somebody who shares similar attributes. When two people have a great deal in common from the get-go, it isn’t unusual for both of them to influence each other. Their taste in fashion, makeup, certain gestures, phrases, and even their overall attitude can be contagious.

But besides the influence of makeup, the study actually found that the physical faces of friends tend to look alike and share analogous structural features. In fact, according to Psychology Today, “Over time, there is the possibility that friends’ faces become more alike because of using similar facial expressions—lots of frowning, or laughing, or looks of disgust, may actually lead to changes in facial patterns.” Want to test out that theory? Here are some ways to make a friendship last your entire life.

So, if you ever see a group of friends that all happen to look related, chances are, they’re not—and you can thank psychology for your confusion. Don’t feel left out if you don’t wing your eyeliner like they do, though; you don’t need to look alike to be friends. Oh, and do you ever look at everyday objects and make out faces in the shapes? Turns out it’s a phenomenon called pareidolia—and it’s a lot more common than you may think.