Are People Attracted to Others Who Resemble Their Opposite-Sex Parents? An Examination of Mate Preferences and Parental Ethnicity Among Biracial Individuals

Marie E. Heffernan, Jia Y. Chong, R. Chris Fraley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

It is generally believed that people tend to be attracted to and pair with others who resemble their opposite-sex parents. Studies 1A (n = 1,025) and 1B (n = 3,105) tested this assumption by examining whether biracial adults were more likely to be paired with partners who matched their opposite-sex parent’s ethnicity. Study 2 (n = 516) examined whether biracial adults were more likely to be attracted to targets whose ethnicity matched that of their opposite-sex parent. Although biracial adults were more likely to pair with and be attracted to others who resembled their parents compared to those who did not, the sex of the parent was largely inconsequential. These findings have implications for models of mate preferences, including the traditional perspectives (which assume that the opposite-sex parent has greater influence on adult mating preferences) and ethological models (which assume that the sex of the parent is irrelevant with regard to influence on mating preferences).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)856-863
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Volume10
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

Keywords

  • biracial individuals
  • close relationships
  • mate preferences
  • romantic attraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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