Parent-offspring conflict in mate preferences

AP Buunk, JH Park, SL Dubbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

130 Citations (Scopus)


Prevailing evolutionary approaches to human mating have largely ignored the fact that mating decisions are heavily influenced by parents and other kin. This is significant because parents and children often have conflicting mate preferences. We provide a brief review of how parents have influenced their children's mating behavior across cultures and throughout history. Then, by drawing on evolutionary reasoning, we offer a hypothesis for why parents and offspring may have conflicting interests with respect to mate preferences. Specifically, parents may have a relatively stronger preference for children's mates with characteristics suggesting high parental investment and cooperation with the ingroup, whereas children may have a relatively stronger preference for mates with characteristics signaling heritable fitness. We review past research consistent with this hypothesis, and we report new results from an empirical study consisting of 768 participants from a variety of cultures that provided clear support for the hypothesis.
Translated title of the contributionParent-offspring conflict in mate preferences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-62
Number of pages16
JournalReview of General Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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