The effect of childhood experiences on mate choice in personality traits: Homogamy and sexual imprinting

Petra Gyuris, Róbert Járai, Tamás Bereczkei

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9 Citations (Scopus)


We have made an attempt at demonstrating the effect of parental influence, particularly sexual imprinting, on human mate choice. Extending our earlier studies that focused on facial similarities between couples, and parents and couples, now we investigate resemblances in personality characters. Forty-nine couples and their parents filled in Caprara's Big Five Questionnaire and the s-EMBU retrospective attachment test. We found significant correlations between the young men's wives and their mothers in Conscientiousness that may be a key factor for similarity, given that it is related to the attitudes regarding parental investment. As far as the effect of childhood experiences are considered, we have controversial results. We found several significant relationships for the same-sex parents and a reverse relationship between the quality of parent-child attachment and the degree of similarity between the child's parent and spouse, that may contradict the ethological notion of sexual imprinting. As a possible interpretation, we emphasize the very complexity of detecting and using parental personality structure as a model in mate choice. In general, our results suggest that childhood experiences would play an important role in shaping mate preferences, and parental models may guide partner choice in terms of personality traits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-472
Number of pages6
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2010


  • Conscientiousness
  • Emotional stability
  • Mate preferences
  • Parental styles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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