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.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Apostolou, M. (2008). Parent-offspring conflict over mating: the case of beauty. Evolutionary Psychology, 6, 303–315.
Apostolou, M. (2011). Parent-offspring conflict over mating: testing the tradeoffs hypothesis. Evolutionary Psychology, 9, 470–495.
Apostolou, M. (2013). Do as we wish: parental tactics of mate choice manipulation. Evolutionary Psychology, 11, 795–813.
Apostolou, M. (2014). Sexual selection under parental choice: The evolution of human mating behavior. Hove: Psychology Press.
Apostolou, M. (2015). Accept my choices, but I will not accept yours! Children’s tactics of mate choice manipulation. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 9, 128–139.
Apostolou, M., & Papageorgi, I. (2014). Parental mate choice manipulation tactics: exploring prevalence, sex and personality effects. Evolutionary Psychology, 12, 588–620.
Apostolou, M., Philippou, D., Andronikou, Z., Argyridou, K., Kasapi, K., Kourouklari, I., & Antoniou, A. (2014). Divergence between in-law and mate preferences: evolved predispositions or socialization and experience effects? Personality and Individual Differences, 70, 57–61.
Apostolou, M., Kasapi, K., & Arakliti, A. (2015). Will they do as we wish? An investigation of the effectiveness of parental manipulation on mating behavior. Evolutionary Psychological Science, 1, 28–36.
Broude, G. J., & Green, S. J. (1983). Cross-cultural codes on husband-wife relationships. Ethnology, 22, 263–280.
Buss, D. M. (1987). Selection, evocation and manipulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 1214–1221.
Buss, D. M. (1992). Manipulation in close relationships: five personality factors in interactional context. Journal of Personality, 60, 477–499.
Buss, D. M., & Shackelford, T. K. (1997). From vigilance to violence: mate retention tactics in married couples. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 346–361.
Buss, D. M., Gomes, M., Higgins, D. S., & Lauterbach, K. (1987). Tactics of manipulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 1219–1229.
Buunk, A. P., Park, J. H., & Dubbs, S. L. (2008). Parent-offspring conflict in mate preferences. Review of General Psychology, 12, 47–62.
de Miguel, A., & Buss, D. M. (2011). Mate retention tactics in Spain: personality, sex differences, and relationship status. Journal of Personality, 79, 563–586.
Ikels, C. (1985). Parental perspectives on the significance of marriage. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 47, 253–264.
Perilloux, C., Fleischman, D. S., & Buss, D. M. (2008). The daughter guarding hypothesis: parental influence on, and emotional reaction to, offspring’s mating behavior. Evolutionary Psychology, 6, 217–233.
Perilloux, C., Fleischman, D. S., & Buss, D. M. (2011). Meet the parents: parent-offspring convergence and divergence in mate preferences. Personality and Individual Differences, 50, 253–258.
Sussman, M. B. (1953). Parental participation in mate selection and its effect upon family continuity. Social Forces, 1, 76–81.
Trivers, R. (1974). Parent-offspring conflict. American Zoologist, 24, 249–264.
Weisfeld, et al. (2011). Sex differences and similarities in married couples: patterns across and within cultures. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 1165–1172.
I would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback which enabled me to improve this work.
About this article
Cite this article
Apostolou, M. I Am Right for Your Child!. Hum Nat 26, 378–391 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12110-015-9241-8
- Parental choice
- Mate choice
- Parent-offspring conflict