Everybody knows "cute couples" who look as if they belong together. Sometimes they look so much alike, people do a double take.
Researchers studying the role of facial features in mating choices used computer-manipulated faces to study attraction and found that when someone has features similar to yours, the similarity inspires trust, says Tony Little, a research fellow in psychology at the University of Stirling in Scotland.
Such look-alike partnering happens all the time, but some who believe facial similarities are a head start to a good relationship aren't leaving it to chance. A new dating website that uses facial recognition to suggest pairings based on shared facial characteristics is giving Cupid a hand.
"In the beginning, it's the face," says Christina Bloom of New York, founder of Find Your FaceMate, whose official launch is July 10.
"You have the potential to be a great match," says Bloom, who explains some celebrity pairings on her website. She adds that she was part of a look-alike couple that got second looks.
"But there are other things at play. Do you have the same values? It doesn't mean it's going to be a successful relationship."
Making the site's pairings possible is Face.com, an Israeli company, which announced Monday that it had been acquired by Facebook.
A statement released by Facebook, which is based in Menlo Park, Calif., says, "This transaction simply brings a world-class team and a longtime technology vendor in-house." Facebook has been using Face.com technology for almost two years in its tag suggestion tool, which allows Facebook users to "tag" or identify their friends in photos.
Ashley Zandy, a spokeswoman for Facebook, declined further comment Wednesday, citing the pending transaction.
"The core technology is comparing faces and figuring out whether it's the same person or not," Face.com CEO Gil Hirsch of Tel Aviv told USA TODAY last month. "We're looking at 63 different points of interest on the face."
Face.com's software scans photos to examine facial features and compare them with other faces to try to make a positive identification. Facebook uses the software to identify specific people in photos, while the dating site uses the software to find people with similar features as potential dates.
Hirsch says on his blog that Face.com's current arrangements with the 45,000 developers who use his company's technology (including Find Your FaceMate) will continue.