Parent-offspring conflict over mating: The case of divorce

Menelaos Apostolou, Ifigeneia Chari, Christos Lefkides, Ioanna Theophanous, Michalis Khalil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Parents and children are genetically related but not genetically identical, which leads to diverging interests and eventual conflict between the two. One area where this conflict is manifested is mate choice, and this research identifies divorce to be one domain of parent-offspring conflict over mating. In particular, three hypotheses are tested: First, parents are more disapproving than their children of the latter getting a divorce; second, the degree of this disagreement varies with the fitness differential that a divorce decision has on parents and their children, and finally, parents disagree more with the divorce decisions of their daughters than of their sons. In a sample of 335 families (903 participants), Study 1 finds support for all three hypotheses. In a sample of 235 parents, Study 2 finds evidence that this disagreement predominantly arises from the age difference between parents and their children, and from individuals becoming negatively disposed towards divorce as they age. The implications of these findings are further discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-294
Number of pages9
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016


  • Divorce
  • Mate choice
  • Parent-offspring conflict
  • Parent-offspring conflict over mating
  • Parental choice


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