Research shows that parental care is associated with mate value in adult offspring

February 20, 2018

Adults, who report having received higher levels of parental care in childhood, perceive themselves as more attractive mates. In particular, maternal care is associated with experienced mate value in adulthood.

Whereas earlier research has shown that fathers' investment in children is associated with sexual maturation and sexual behavior in daughters, a recent study from Åbo Akademi University, suggest that also mothers' investment is related to their children's attractiveness as mates in adulthood. Moreover, parental care influences mate value of both women and men.

In the study, adults were asked to report how much paternal care they have received from their mother and father during their childhood and also report how they viewed their attractiveness as romantic partners.

"These results are interesting because they show that not only variation in fathers' caretaking related to daughters' views on relationships. In fact, the behavior of mothers is at least equally important. Moreover, men's self-esteem as mates is also related to parental care in childhood", says Postdoctoral Researcher in Psychology at Åbo Akademi University, Jan Antfolk.

"We hope future studies investigate the mechanisms behind the observed associations."

The study was conducted in Finland and included 1244 adults. The study was recently published in Personality and Individual Differences.
Link to the on-line publication:

The study is a part of the research project Intra-Genomic Conflicts and Social Decision-Making in Humans financed by the Academy of Finland (project number 298513).

For more information:

Postdoctoral Researcher in Psychology at Åbo Akademi University
Jan Antfolk

Academy of Finland

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