Parental preferences for the facial traits of their offspring's partners can enhance parental inclusive fitness

Carmen Lefevre, Tamsin Saxton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Physical appearance provides a wealth of information concerning an individual’s biological fitness and reproductive quality, but we do not know whether parents make use of this information when evaluating potential partners for their offspring. This is critical to our understanding of human mate choice, because parents frequently influence their offspring’s mating decisions, either directly, for instance through arranged marriages, or indirectly, through manipulating their offspring’s partner choice. Here, we used facial images that varied in attractiveness, masculinity, health, and symmetry to assess both reproductively-aged daughters’ and their parents’ preferences in potential mates for the daughters. In line with our predictions, both daughters and their parents had clear preferences for markers of genetic quality, although the daughters showed significantly stronger preferences for these markers than their parents. Contrary to previous research, parents and daughters did not have stronger preferences for markers of genetic quality if they perceived the daughter to be more attractive. Parents’ preferences for the facial markers of genetic quality in their offspring’s partner may help maximise inclusive fitness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)546-551
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Volume38
Issue number4
Early online date26 Jan 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017

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