Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 65, Issue 5, pp 859–873 | Cite as

The role of sexual imprinting and the Westermarck effect in mate choice in humans

  • Markus J. RantalaEmail author
  • Urszula M. Marcinkowska


Positive sexual imprinting is a process by which individuals use the phenotype of their opposite-sex parent as a template for choosing mates and is suggested to play an important role in human mate choice. In contrast, negative imprinting, or “The Westermarck Effect”, is characterized by individuals developing a strong sexual aversion to others with whom they lived closely in infancy and early childhood. In this review, we evaluate the literature on their effects on mate choice in humans. We find little evidence to support positive imprinting in humans because the studies either have serious design flaws, do not exclude effects of heritable mating preferences, or do not account for several possible alternative explanations. Instead, it seems that the opposite phenomenon, negative sexual imprinting, has some support from natural experiments which have found that individuals avoid mating with those with whom they lived closely in infancy and early childhood. However, it seems that early association does not produce a strong-enough aversion to completely annihilate sexual desire, probably because the mind uses multiple kinship cues to regulate inbreeding avoidance. Thus, it appears that the evidence for both types of imprinting is fairly weak in humans. Thus, more studies are needed to test the role of sexual imprinting on mate choice in humans, especially those measuring interactions between positive and negative imprinting.


Assortative mating Evolved mating preferences Freud Homo sapiens Homogamy Incest avoidance Imprinting Partner similarity Phenotype matching Sexual selection Westermarck 



Special thanks go to Derek Dunn, Antti Revonsuo, Heikki Sarmaja, and anonymous reviewers for fruitful comments on the manuscript. Derek Dunn also kindly checked the English. The study was financially supported by the Academy of Finland to MJR.


  1. Apostolou M (2007) Sexual selection under parental choice: the role of parents in the evolution of human mating. Evol hum behav 28:403–409Google Scholar
  2. Appicella CL, Marlowe FW (2007) Men’s reproductive investment decisions—mating, parenting, and self-perceived mate value. Hum nat 18:22–34Google Scholar
  3. Baglione V, Canestrari D, Marcos JM, Ekman J (2003) Kin selection in cooperative alliances of carrion crows. Science 300:1947–1949PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Barrett L, Dunbar R, Lycett J (2002) Human evolutionary psychology. Palgrave, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Bateson PPG (1966) The characteristics and context of imprinting. Biol Rev 41:177–220PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Bateson PPG (1978) Sexual imprinting and optimal outbreeding. Nature 273:659–660PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Bateson PPG (1980) Optimal outbreeding and the development of sexual preferences in Japanese quail. Z Tierpsychol 53:231–244Google Scholar
  8. Bateson PPG (1982) Preferences for cousins in Japanese quail. Nature 295:236–237Google Scholar
  9. Bateson PPG (2003) Promises of behavioural biology. Anim Behav 65:11–17Google Scholar
  10. Bereczkei T, Gyuris P (2009) Oedipus complex, mate choice, imprinting; an evolutionary reconsideration of a Freudian concept based on empirical studies. Mankind Quart 50:1–2Google Scholar
  11. Bereczkei T, Gyuris P, Koves P et al (2002) Homogamy, genetic similarity, and imprinting; parental influence on mate choice preferences. Pers Individ Differ 33:677–690Google Scholar
  12. Bereczkei T, Gyuris P, Weisfeld GE (2004) Sexual imprinting in human mate choice. Proc R Soc B 271:1120–1134. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2003.2672 Google Scholar
  13. Bereczkei T, Hegedus G, Hajnal G (2009) Facialmetric similarities mediate mate choice: sexual imprinting on opposite-sex parents. Proc R Soc B 276:91–98, RetractedPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Berscheid E, Walster E (1974) Physical attractiveness. In Berkowitz L (ed). Adv in Exp Soc Psychol 7:157–215Google Scholar
  15. Bevc I, Silverman I (1993) Early proximity and intimacy between siblings and incestuous behavior: a test of the Westermarck theory. Ethol sociobiol 14:171–181Google Scholar
  16. Bevc I, Silverman I (2000) Early separation and sibling incest: a test of the revised Westermarck theory. Evol hum behav 21:151–161PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Bischof HJ, Clayton N (1991) Stabilization of sexual preferences by sexual experience in male zebra finches Taeniopygia guttata castanotis. Behaviour 118:144–155Google Scholar
  18. Botwin MD, Buss DM, Shackelford TK (1997) Personality and mate preferences: five factors in mate selection and marital satisfaction. J Pers 65:107–136PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Brown WM, Price ME, Kang J, Pound N, Zhao Y, Yu H (2008) Fluctuating asymmetry and preferences for sex-typical bodily characteristics. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 35:12938–12943Google Scholar
  20. Burley N (1983) The meaning of assortative mating. Ethol sociobiol 4:191–203Google Scholar
  21. Buss DM, Schmitt DP (1993) Sexual strategies theory: an evolutionary perspective on human mating. Psychol Rev 100:204–232PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Carre JM, McCormick CM (2008) In your face: facial metrics predict aggressive behaviour in the laboratory and in varsity and professional hockey players. Proc R Soc B 275:2651–2656PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Clayton NS (1989) Song, sex and sensitive phases in the behavioral development of birds. Trends Ecol Evol 4:82–84PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Cooke F, McNally CM (1975) Mate selection and colour preferences in lesser snow geese. Behaviour 53:151–170PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Daly M (1989) On distinguishing evolved adaptation from epiphenomena. Behav Brain Sci 12:520Google Scholar
  26. Daly M, Wilson M (1990) Is parental offspring conflict sex linked? Freudian and Darwinian models. J Pers 58:163–189PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. DeBruine LM (2002) Facial resemblance enhances trust. Proc R Soc Lond B 269:1307–1312Google Scholar
  28. DeBruine LM (2004) Facial resemblance increases the attractiveness of same-sex faces more than other-sex faces. Proc R Soc B 271:2085–2090PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. DeBruine LM (2005) Trustworthy but not lust-worthy: context-specific effects of facial resemblance. Proc R Soc B 272:919–922PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. DeBruine LM, Jones BC, Unger L, Little AC, Feinberg DR (2007) Dissociating averageness and attractiveness: attractive faces are not always average. J Exp Psychol 33:1420–1430Google Scholar
  31. Dixson AF (1998) Primate sexuality. Comparative studies of the prosimians, monkeys, apes and human beings. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  32. Dugatkin LA, Godin JGJ (1992) Reversal of female mate choice by copying in the guppy (Poecilia-reticulata). Proc R Soc B 249:179–184PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Fessler DMT, Navarrete CD (2004) Third-party attitudes toward sibling incest: evidence for Westermarck’s hypotheses. Evol hum behav 25(5):277–294Google Scholar
  34. Fessler DMT (2007) Neglected natural experiments germane to the Westermarck hypothesis: the Karo Batak and the Oneida community. Hum Nat 18:355–364Google Scholar
  35. Freeland Judson H (2004) The great betrayal: fraud in science. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, BostonGoogle Scholar
  36. Freud S (1905) Three essays on the theory of sexuality. Stand Ed 7:125–243Google Scholar
  37. Freud S (1938) An outline of psycho-analysis. Stand Ed 23:141–207Google Scholar
  38. Gallagher JE (1977) Sexual imprinting—sensitive period in Japanese quail (Coturnix coturunix japonica). J Comp Physiol Psychol 91:72–78Google Scholar
  39. Gavish L, Hoffman J, Getz L (1984) Sibling recognition in the prairie vole, Microtus ochrogaster. Anim Behav 32:362–366Google Scholar
  40. Gosling LM, Roberts SC (2001) Scent-marking by male mammals: cheat-proof signals to competitors and mates. Adv Stud Behav 30:169–217. doi: 10.1016/S0065-3454(01)80007-3 Google Scholar
  41. Grammer K, Thornhill R (1994) Human (Homo sapiens) facial attractiveness and sexual selection: the role of symmetry and averageness. J Comp Psychol 108:233–242PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Hansen BT, Slagsvold T (2003) Rival imprinting: interspecifically cross-fostered tits defend their territories against heterospecific intruders. Anim Behav 65:1117–1123Google Scholar
  43. Hansen BT, Johannessen LE, Slagvold T (2007) Imprinted species recognition lasts for life in free-living great tits and blue tits. Anim Behav 75:921–927Google Scholar
  44. Hebets EA (2003) Subadult experience influences adult mate choice in an arthropod: exposed female wolf spiders prefer males of a familiar phenotype. Proc Nat Acad Sci Unit Stat Am 100:13390–13395Google Scholar
  45. Helgason A, Palsson S, Guobjartsson DF et al (2008) An association between the kinship and fertility of human couples. Science 319:813–816PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Herz RS, Cahill ED (1997) Differential use of sensory information in sexual behavior as a function of gender. Hum nat 8:275–286Google Scholar
  47. Herz RS, Inzlicht M (2002) Sex differences in response to physical and social factors involved in human mate selection: the importance of smell for women. Evol hum behav 23:359–364Google Scholar
  48. Hess EH (1973) Imprinting. Early experience and the developmental psychobiology of attachment. Van Nostrand Rheinhold, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  49. Hewlett BS (1991) Intimate fathers: the nature and context of Aka pygmy paternal infant care. University of Michigan Press, Ann ArborGoogle Scholar
  50. Hill JL (1974) Peromyscus: effect of early pairing on reproduction. Science 186:1042–1044PubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Hill CT, Rubin Z, Peplau LA (1976) Breakups before marriage: the end of 103 affairs. J Soc Issues 32:147–168Google Scholar
  52. Hughes K, Du L, Rodd F, Reznick D (1999) Familiarity leads to female mate preference for novel males in the guppy Poecilia reticulata. Anim Behav 58:907–916PubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Immelmann K, Prove R, Lassek R, Bischof HJ (1991) Influence of adult courtship experience on the development of sexual preferences in zebra finch males. Anim Behav 42:83–89Google Scholar
  54. Irwin DE, Price T (1999) Sexual imprinting, learning and speciation. Heredity 82:347–354PubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Ishi H, Gyoba J, Kamachi M, Mukaida S, Akamatu S (2004) Analyses of facial attractiveness on feminised and juvenilised faces. Perception 33:135–145PubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Jacob S, McClintock MK, Zelano B, Ober C (2002) Paternally inherited HLA alleles are associated with women's choice of male odor. Nat Genet 30:175–179PubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Jedlicka D (1980) A test of the psychoanalytic theory of mate selection. J Soc Psychol 112:295–299Google Scholar
  58. Jedlicka D (1984) Indirect parental influence on mate choice: a test of the psychoanalytic theory. J Marriage Fam 46:65–70Google Scholar
  59. Jones BC, Little AC, Boothroyd L, DeBruin LM, Feinberg DR, Law Smith JM, Cornwell RE, Moore FR, Perret DJ (2005) Commitment to relationships and preferences for femininity and apparent health in faces are stronger on days of the menstruation cycle when progesterone level is high. Horm Behav 28:283–290Google Scholar
  60. Kalick SM, Hamilton TE (1986) The matching hypothesis reexamined. J Pers Soc Psychol 51:673–682Google Scholar
  61. Keller LF, Waller DM (2002) Inbreeding effects in wild populations. Trends Ecol Evol 17:230–241Google Scholar
  62. Kelley J, Graves J, Magurran A (1999) Familiarity breeds contempt in guppies. Nature 401:661–662PubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Kendrick KM, Hinton RM, Atkins K (1999) Mothers determine sexual preferences. Nature 395:229–230Google Scholar
  64. Kisilevsky BS et al (2003) Effects of experience on fetal voice recognition. Psychol Sci 14:220–224PubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. Klint T (1978) Significance of mother and sibling experience for mating preferences in the mallard. Z Tierpsychol 47:50–60Google Scholar
  66. Köksal F, Domjan M, Kurt A, Sertel Ö, Örüng BR, Kumru G (2004) An animal model of fetishism. Behav Res Ther 42:1421–1434PubMedGoogle Scholar
  67. Kozak GM, Boughman JW (2009) Learned conspecific mate preferences in a species pair of sticklebacks. Behav Ecol 20:1282–1288Google Scholar
  68. Kruczek M (2007) Recognition of kin in bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus). Physiol Behav 90:483–489PubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. Kruijt JPC, ten Cate CJ, Meenwissen GB (1983) The influence of siblings on the development of sexual preferences of male zebra finches. Develop Psycholbiol 16:233–239Google Scholar
  70. Kruijt JP, Meeuwissen GB (1991) Sexual preferences of male zebra finches: effects of early and adult experience. Anim Behav 42:91–102Google Scholar
  71. Kruijt JP, Meeuwissen GB (1993) Consolidation and modification of sexual preferences in adult male zebra finches. Neth j zool 43:68–79Google Scholar
  72. Kupfersmid J (1995) Does the Oedipus complex exist? Psychotherapy 32:535–547Google Scholar
  73. Kuukasjärvi S, Eriksson CJP, Koskela E, Nissinen K, Mappes T, Rantala MJ (2004) Attractiveness of women body odours along menstrual cycle: the role of oral contraceptives and receiver sex. Behav Ecol 15:579–584Google Scholar
  74. Langlois JH, Roggman LA, Casey RJ, Ritter JM, Rieserdanner LA, Jenkins VY (1987) Infant preferences for attractive faces—rudiments of a stereotype. Dev Psychol 23:363–369Google Scholar
  75. Langlois JH, Roggman LA (1990) Attractive faces are only average. Psychol Sci 1:115–121Google Scholar
  76. Langlois JH, Ritter JM, Roggman LA (1991) Facial diversity and infant preference for attractive faces. Dev Psychol 27:79–84Google Scholar
  77. Laeng B, Mathisen R, Johnsen J (2007) Why do blue-eyed men prefer women with the same eye color? Behav Ecol Sociobiol 61:371–384Google Scholar
  78. Lie HC, Rhodes G, Simmons LW (2008) Genetic diversity revealed in human faces. Evolution 62:2473–2486PubMedGoogle Scholar
  79. Lieberman D, Tooby J, Cosmides L (2003) Does morality have a biological basis? An empirical test of the factors governing moral sentiments relating to incest. Proc R Soc B 270:819–826PubMedGoogle Scholar
  80. Lieberman D, Tooby J, Cosmides L (2007) The architecture of human kin detection. Nature 445:727–731PubMedGoogle Scholar
  81. Lieberman D (2009) Rethinking the Taiwanese minor marriage data: evidence the minds uses multiple kinship cues to regulate inbreeding avoidance. Evol hum behav 30:153–160Google Scholar
  82. Little AC, Penton-Voak IS, Burt DM, Perrett DI (2003) Investigating an imprinting-like phenomenon in humans: partners and opposite-sex parents have similar hair and eye colour. Evol hum behav 24:43–51Google Scholar
  83. Lorenz KZ (1937) The companion in the birds world. Auk 54:245–273Google Scholar
  84. Love B (1994) The encyclopedia of unusual sex practices. Barricade Books, Fort LeeGoogle Scholar
  85. Lynch M, Walsh J (1998) Genetic analysis of quantitative traits. Sinauer, SunderlandGoogle Scholar
  86. Magurran AE, Ramnarine IW (2004) Learned mate recognition and reproductive isolation in guppies. Anim Behav 67:077–1082Google Scholar
  87. Magurran AE, Ramnarine IW (2005) Evolution of mate discrimination in a fish. Curr Biol 15:R867–R868PubMedGoogle Scholar
  88. Matheny AP, Dolan AB (1975) Changes in eye colour during early childhood: sex and genetic differences. Ann Hum Biol 2:191–196PubMedGoogle Scholar
  89. Mather K (1943) Polygenic inheritance and natural selection. Biol Rev 18:32–64Google Scholar
  90. Maynard Smith J (1978) The evolution of sex. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  91. McCabe J (1983) FBD marriage: further support for the Westermarck hypothesis of the incest taboo. Am Anthropol 85:50–69Google Scholar
  92. McFarland D (1993) Animal behavior. Longman Scientific and Technical, HarlowGoogle Scholar
  93. Miller GF, Todd PM (1998) Mate choice turns cognitive. Trends Cogn Sci 2:190–198PubMedGoogle Scholar
  94. Murstein BI, Christy P (1976) Physical attractiveness and marriage adjustment in middle-aged couples. J Pers Soc Psychol 34:537–542Google Scholar
  95. Nicolai J (1956) Zur biologie und ethologie des gimpels (Pyrrhula pyrrhula L.). Z Tierpsychol 47:50–60Google Scholar
  96. Ochoa G, Jaffe K (1999) On sex, mate selection and the Red Queen. Academic Press 199:1–9Google Scholar
  97. Oetting S, Bischof HJ (1996) Sexual imprinting in female zebra finches: changes in preferences as an effect of adult experience. Behavior 133:387–397Google Scholar
  98. Oetting S, Prove E, Bischof HJ (1995) Sexual imprinting as a two-stage process: mechanisms of information storage and stabilization. Anim Behav 50:393–403Google Scholar
  99. Oinonen P (2008) Silmien värin ihmisen seksuualivalintaan Suomessa (in Finnish) (Effect of eye colors on sexual selection in Finland). University of Turku, Finland, DissertationGoogle Scholar
  100. Parker H, Parker S (1986) Father–daughter sexual abuse: an emerging perspective. Am J Orthopsychiatry 56(4):531–549PubMedGoogle Scholar
  101. Pawlowski D, Dunbar RIM (1999) Withholding age as putative deception in mate search tactics. Evol hum behav 20:53–69Google Scholar
  102. Penn D, Potts W (1998) MHC-dissortative mating preferences reversed by cross-fostering. Proc R Soc Lond B 265:1299–1306Google Scholar
  103. Penton-Voak I, Perrett DI, Castles DL, Kobayashi T, Burt DM, Murray LK, Minamisawa R (1999a) Menstrual cycle alters face preference. Nature 399:741–742PubMedGoogle Scholar
  104. Penton-Voak IS, Perrett DI, Peirce JW (1999b) Computer graphic studies of the role of facial similarity in judgments of attractiveness. Curr psychol 18:104–117Google Scholar
  105. Penton-Voak I, Perrett DI (2000) Consistency and individual differences in facial attractiveness judgements: an evolutionary perspective. Soc res 67:219–245Google Scholar
  106. Perrett DI, Penton-Voak IS, Little AC, Tiddeman BP, Burt DM, Schmidt N, Oxley R, Kinloch N, Barrett L (2002) Facial attractiveness judgments reflect learning of parental age characteristics. Proc R Soc Lond B 269:873–880Google Scholar
  107. Pinker S (1997) How the mind works. Norton, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  108. Place SS, Todd PM, Penke L, Asendorpf JB (2010) Humans show mate copying after observing real mate choices. Evol Hum Behav 31:320–325Google Scholar
  109. Plenge M, Curio E, Witte K (2010) Sexual imprinting supports the evolution of novel male traits by transference of a preference of the colour red. Behavior 137:741–758Google Scholar
  110. Plous S (1993) The psychology of judgment and decision making. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  111. Postma E, Martini L, Martini P (2010) Inbred women in small and isolated Swiss village have fewer children. J Evol Biol 23:1468–1474PubMedGoogle Scholar
  112. Potts WK, Manning CJ, Wakeland EK (1991) Mating patterns in seminatural populations of mice influenced by MHC genotype. Nature 352:619–621PubMedGoogle Scholar
  113. Pusey A, Wolf M (1996) Inbreeding avoidance in animals. Trends Ecol Evol 11:201–206PubMedGoogle Scholar
  114. Rantala MJ (2007) The evolution of nakedness in Homo sapiens. J Zool 273:1–7Google Scholar
  115. Rantala MJ, Koskimäki J, Suhonen J, Taskinen J, Tynkkynen K (2000) Immunocompetence, developmental stability and wing spot size in Calopteryx splendens. Proc R Soc B 267:2453–2457PubMedGoogle Scholar
  116. Rantala MJ, Eriksson CJP, Vainikka A, Kortet R (2006) Male steroid hormones and female preference for male body odour. Evol hum behav 27:259–269Google Scholar
  117. Rantala MJ, Pölkki P, Rantala LM (2010) Preference for human male body hair changes across the menstrual cycle and menopause. Behav Ecol 21:419–423Google Scholar
  118. Rhodes G, Sumich A, Byatt G (1999) Are average facial configurations attractive only because of their symmetry? Psychol Sci 10:52–58Google Scholar
  119. Rhodes G, Yoshhikawa S, Clark A, Lee K, McKay R, Akamatsu S (2001) Attractiveness of facial averageness and symmetry in non-Western cultures: in search of biologically based standards of beauty. Perception 30:611–625PubMedGoogle Scholar
  120. Rhodes G (2006) The evolutionary psychology of facial beauty. Ann Rev Psychol 57:199–226Google Scholar
  121. Roberts SC, Little AC, Gosling LM, Jones BC, Perrett D, Carter V, Petrie M (2005) MHC-assortative facial preferences in humans. Biol Lett 1:400–403PubMedGoogle Scholar
  122. Roberts SC, Gosling LM, Carter V, Petrie M (2008) MHC-correlated odour preferences in humans and the use of oral contraceptives. Proc R Soc B 275:2715–2722PubMedGoogle Scholar
  123. Roncarati A, Perez JA, Ravenna A, Navarro-Pertusa E (2009) Mixing against culture vs mixing against nature: ontologization of prohibited interethnic relationships. Int j psychol 44:12–19Google Scholar
  124. Roney JR, Simmons ZL (2008) Women's estradiol predicts preferences for facial cues of men's testosterone. Horm Behav 53:70–76Google Scholar
  125. Saether SA, Saetre GP, Borge T, Wiley C, Svedin N, Andersson G, Veen T, Haavie J, Servedio MR, Bures S et al (2007) Sex chromosome-linked species recognition and evolution of reproductive isolation in flycatchers. Science 318:95–97PubMedGoogle Scholar
  126. Samuels CA, Ewy R (1985) Aesthetic perception of faces during infancy. Brit J Devel Psychol 3:221–228Google Scholar
  127. Santos PSC, Schinemann JA, Gabardo J, Bicalho MD (2005) New evidence that the MHC influences odor perception in humans: a study with 58 Southern Brazilian students. Horm Behav 47:384–388. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2004.11.005 PubMedGoogle Scholar
  128. Sariola H, Uutela A (1996) The prevalence and context of incest abuse in Finland. Child Abuse Negl 20:843–850PubMedGoogle Scholar
  129. Schielzeth H, Burger C, Bolund E et al (2008) Sexual imprinting on continuous variation: do female zebra finches prefer or avoid unfamiliar sons of their foster parents? J Evol Biol 21:1274–1280PubMedGoogle Scholar
  130. Schlupp I, Ryan MJ (1997) Male sailfin mollies (Poecilia latipinna) copy the mate choice of other males. Behav Ecol 8:104–107Google Scholar
  131. Schneider MA, Hendrix L (2000) Olfactory sexual inhibition and the Westermarck effect. Hum nat 11:65–92Google Scholar
  132. Seemanova E (1971) A study of the children of incestuous mating. Hum Hered 21:108–128PubMedGoogle Scholar
  133. Segal NL (1999) Entwined lives: twins and what they tell us about human behavior. Dutton, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  134. Shepher J (1971) Mate selection among second generation Kibbutz adolescents and adults: incest avoidance and negative imprinting. Arch Sex Behav 1:293–307Google Scholar
  135. Shepher J (1983) Incest: a biosocial view. Academic, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  136. Shor E, Simchai D (2009) Incest avoidance, the incest taboo, and social cohesion: revisiting Westermarck and the case of the Israel kibbutzim. Am J Sociol 114:1803–1842PubMedGoogle Scholar
  137. Singh D (1993) Body shape and women’s attractiveness: the critical role of waist-to-hip ratio. Hum nat 4:297–321Google Scholar
  138. Slater A, von der Schulenberg C, Brown E, Badenoch M, Butterworth G, Parson S, Samuels S (1998) Newborn babies prefer attractive faces. Inf Behav Devel 21:345–354Google Scholar
  139. Smith DL (2007) Beyond Westermarck: can shared mothering or maternal phenotype matching account for incest avoidance? Evol Psychol 5(1):202–222Google Scholar
  140. Spuhler JN (1968) Assortative mating with respect to physical characteristics. Eugen Q 15:128–140PubMedGoogle Scholar
  141. ten Cate C (1984) The influence of social relations on the development of species recognition in zebra finch males. Behavior 91:263–285Google Scholar
  142. ten Cate C, Bateson P (1989) Sexual imprinting and a preference for supernormal partners in Japanese quail. Anim Behav 38:356–357Google Scholar
  143. ten Cate C, Vos DR (1999) Sexual imprinting and evolutionary processes in birds: a reassessment. Adv Stud Behav 28:1–31Google Scholar
  144. ten Cate C, Verzijden MN, Etman E (2006) Sexual imprinting can induce sexual preferences for exaggerated parental traits. Curr Biol 16:1128–1132PubMedGoogle Scholar
  145. Thiessen D, Gregg B (1980) Human assortative mating and genetic equilibrium: an evolutionary perspective. Ethol sociobiol 1:111–140Google Scholar
  146. Thunken T, Bakker TCM, Baldauf SA (2007) Direct familiarity does not alter mating preferences for sister in male Pelvicachromis taeniatus (Cichlidae). Ethology 13:1107–1112Google Scholar
  147. Todd PM, Miller GF (1993) Parental guidance suggested: how parental imprinting evolves through sexual selection as an adaptive learning mechanism. Adapt behav 2:5–47Google Scholar
  148. Valentine T, Darling S, Donnelly M (2004) Why are average faces attractive? The effect of view and averageness on the attractiveness of female faces. Psychon Bull Rev 11:482–487PubMedGoogle Scholar
  149. Verzijden MN, ten Cate C (2007) Early learning influences species assortative mating preferences in Lake Victoria cichlid fish. Biol Lett 3:134–136PubMedGoogle Scholar
  150. Verzijden NM, Korthof REM, ten Cate C (2008) Female learn from mothers and males learn from others. The effect of mother and siblings on the development of female mate preferences and male aggression biases in Lake Victoria ciclids, genus Mbipia. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 62:1359–1368Google Scholar
  151. Vos DR (1994) Sex recognition in zebra finch males results from early experience. Behaviour 128:1–14Google Scholar
  152. Walster E, Aronson E, Abrahams D (1966) Increasing persuasiveness of a low prestige communicator. J Exp Soc Psychol 2:325–342Google Scholar
  153. Walter A (1997) The evolutionary psychology of mate selection in Morocco: a multivariate analysis. Hum Nat 8:113–137Google Scholar
  154. Walter A, Buyske S (2003) The Westermarck effect and early childhood co-socialization: sex differences in inbreeding-avoidance. Brit J Devel Psychol 21:353–365Google Scholar
  155. Waynforth D, Dunbar RIM (1995) Conditional mate choice strategies in humans: evidence from “Lonely hearts” advertisements. Behavior 132:755–779Google Scholar
  156. Waynforth D (2007) Mate choice copying in humans. Hum Nat 8:264–271Google Scholar
  157. Wedekind C, Seebeck T, Bettens F, Paepke AJ (1995) MHC-dependent mate preferences in humans. Proc R Soc B 260:245–249. doi: 10.1098/rspb.1995.0087 PubMedGoogle Scholar
  158. Wedekind C, Furi S (1997) Body odour preferences in men and women: do they aim for specific MHC combinations or simply heterozygosity? Proc R Soc B 264:1471–1479. doi: 10.1098/rspb.1997.0204 PubMedGoogle Scholar
  159. Wedekind C, Escher S, Van deWaal M, Frei E (2007) The major histocompatibility complex and perfumers’ descriptions of human body odors. Evol Psychol 5:330–343Google Scholar
  160. Weisfeld GE, Czilli T, Phillips KA, Gall JA, Lichtman CM (2003) Possible olfaction-based mechanisms in human kin recognition and inbreeding avoidance. J Experim Child Psychol 85:279–295Google Scholar
  161. Welling LLM, Jones BC, DeBruin DJ, Nonway CA, Law Smith MJ, Little AC, Feinberg DR, Char M, Al-Dujaili EAS (2007) Raised salivary testosterone in women is associated with increased attraction to masculine faces. Horm Behav 52:156–162PubMedGoogle Scholar
  162. Welling LLM, Jones BC, DeBruin LM, Smith FG, Feinberg DR, Little AC, Al-Dujaili EAS (2008) Men report stronger attraction to femininity in women's faces when their testosterone levels are high. Horm Behav 54:703–708PubMedGoogle Scholar
  163. Westermarck E (1891) The history of human marriage. Macmillan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  164. Westermarck E (1922) The history of human marriage, vol 2. Allerton, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  165. Westermarck E (1934) Three essays on sex and marriage. Macmillan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  166. Williams LM, Finkelhor D (1995) Paternal caregiving and incest: test of a biosocial model. Am J Orthopsychiatr 65(1):101–113Google Scholar
  167. Wilson GD, Barrett PT (1987) Parental characteristics and partner choice: some evidence for Oedipal imprinting. J Biosoc Sci 19:157–161PubMedGoogle Scholar
  168. Wiszewska A, Pawlowski B, Boothroyd LG (2007) Father–daughter relationship as a moderator of sexual imprinting: a facialmetric study. Evol Hum Behav 28:248–252Google Scholar
  169. Witte K, Hirschler U, Curio E (2000) Sexual imprinting on a novel adornment influences mate preferences in the Javanese mannikin Lonchura leucogastroides. Ethology 106:349–363Google Scholar
  170. Witte K, Sawka N (2003) Sexual imprinting on a novel trait in the dimorphic zebra finch: sexes differ. Anim Behav 65:195–203Google Scholar
  171. Witte K, Caspers B (2006) Sexual imprinting on a novel blue ornament in zebra finches. Behavior 143:969–991Google Scholar
  172. Wolf AP (1970) Childhood association and sexual attraction: a further test of the Westermarck hypothesis. Am Antropol 72:503–515Google Scholar
  173. Wolf AP, Huang C (1980) Marriage and adoption in China: 1845–1945. Stanford University Press, Palo AltoGoogle Scholar
  174. Wolf AP (1985) Sexual attraction and childhood association: a Chinese brief for Edward Westermarck. Stanford University Press, StanfordGoogle Scholar
  175. Zei G, Astofli P, Jayaker SD (1981) Correlation between father’s age and husband’s age: a case of imprinting? J Biosoc Sci 13:409–418PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section of Ecology, Department of BiologyUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland

Personalised recommendations