Homogamy, genetic similarity, and imprinting; parental influence on mate choice preferences

T. Bereczkei, P. Gyuris, P. Koves, L. Bernath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

76 Citations (Scopus)


Whereas the hypothesis of genetically mediated homogamy has been supported by several studies, certain theoretical and methodological criticisms have been raised against genetic similarity theory. As an alternative approach to assortative mating, we suppose that imprinting-like mechanisms, rather than "direct" genetic detection, are responsible for choosing similar spouses. In a study aimed at comparing more than 300 facial photographs of family members and controls, the judges correctly matched wives to their mother-in-law at a significantly higher rate than expected by chance. Furthermore, a higher degree of similarity was ascribed between the husbands' mother and the husbands' wife than between the husbands and their wives. A regression analysis has revealed that men who had been more frequently rejected by their mother during childhood were less likely to choose mates who resemble their mothers in physical appearance. These results suggest that under the influence of childhood experiences, sons internalize their mother's phenotype as a template for acquiring similar mates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-690
Number of pages14
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 5 2002


  • Evolutionary strategies
  • Homogamy
  • Sexual imprinting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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