Parent-offspring conflict over mating: Domains of agreement and disagreement

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Evolutionary reasoning indicates that certain traits are more beneficial when they are found in a mate than in a son- or a daughterin- law, while other traits are more beneficial when they are found in a son- or a daughter-in-law than in a mate. This translates into different evolutionary pressures exercised on in-law and mate preferences driving them to diverge. The purpose of this research is to identify the domains over which in-law and mate choice is exercised, and following this, to identify the areas of agreement and disagreement in these domains. In particular, using an extensive sample of parents (N = 1,717), Study 1 identifies 10 domains over which mate and in-law choice is exercised. Study 2 employs a sample of families (N = 541) in order to compare the preferences of parents with the preferences of their children. It is found that in-law and mate preferences diverge over several domains including good looks, personality, and family background.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalEvolutionary Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • In-law preferences
  • Mate preferences
  • Parent-offspring conflict over mating
  • Parental choice


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