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I Am Right for Your Child!

Tactics for Manipulating Potential Parents-In-Law

Abstract

Parents and children have converging as well as diverging interests with respect to the latter’s mate choices. Diverging interests frequently result in children choosing mates who do not gain the approval of their parents. Manipulation then arises wherein parents try to drive away undesirable prospective sons- and daughters-in-law, and the latter employ counter manipulation to make the former to change their minds. The present research aims to identify and measure the effectiveness of manipulation tactics that individuals employ to influence their partners’ parents to accept them as mates for their daughters and sons. Study 1 recruited a sample of 106 Greek-Cypriots and, using open-ended questionnaires, identified 41 acts that individuals employ on their partners’ parents. Using principal-components analysis, in a sample of 738 Greek-Cypriots, Study 2 classified these acts into seven broader manipulation tactics and identified the ones that are more and the ones that are less likely to be employed. Study 3 examined in a sample of 414 Greek-Cypriots the effectiveness of these tactics in altering parents’ minds and finds a moderate effectiveness, with some tactics being more effective than others. The implications of these findings are discussed.

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Acknowledgments

I would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback which enabled me to improve this work.

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Correspondence to Menelaos Apostolou.

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Apostolou, M. I Am Right for Your Child!. Hum Nat 26, 378–391 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12110-015-9241-8

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Keywords

  • In-laws
  • Parental choice
  • Manipulation
  • Mate choice
  • Parent-offspring conflict