*Whether or not you think Miss Williams resembles her dog “Butch” or not, science may be on their side on this one.
Psychologist Sadahiko Nakajima’s research on dog-owner resemblance has enjoyed a resurgence of interest in recent weeks thanks to coverage in Slate, the U.K.’s Daily Mail and other news outlets. Nakajima, a researcher at Japan’s Kwansei Gakuin University, says there’s evidence to support not just the notion that humans and their pet dogs look alike, but also why that’s so.
It’s all in the eyes, he claims.
Nakajima conducted an experiment in 2009 that showed people were able to match dogs and their owners simply by looking at photographs of their faces. This happened enough times to dispel any arguments about coincidence or chance. And the psychologist said his findings were not unlike those found in previous studies. Taken together, he told The Huffington Post via email that the evidence from his and other scientists’ research shows that the popular belief in dog-owner physical resemblance is empirically valid.
But Nakajima dug even deeper to answer the question as to why this was the case. So, he conducted another experiment and published the results last year in the journal Anthrozoös. He wanted to see if the pet-human resemblance could be traced to a specific facial feature.
For the experiment, more than 500 people were shown two sets of photographs. One set showed pictures of real dog-owner pairs, while the other set had random pairings of people and dogs. The participants were randomly assigned to one of five different “masking” photo conditions, pictured below: no-mask (in which the human’s and the dog’s faces were unobstructed), eye-mask (the human’s eyes were blacked out), mouth-mask (the human’s mouth was blacked out), dog-eye-mask (the dog’s eyes were blacked out), and eye-only (where just the eyes of the human and the dog could be seen).
The participants were then asked to select the dog-owner pairs that physically resembled each other.
The results of the experiment were amazing!
Check them out at Huffington Post.