Perceived and actual characteristics of parents and partners: A test of a freudian model of mate selection
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The present research examined the psychoanalytic theory of mate selection (Freud, 1927) which proposes that people choose romantic partners similar to their oppositesex parents (Epstein & Guttman, 1984). This phenomenon was addressed as both an actual phenomenon that guides partner choice and as a perceived phenomenon regarding people's conceptualizations of their parents and partners. Participants were asked to describe their parents, significant others, and ideal significant others in terms of several personality characteristics. Also, actual parents and partners of subjects described themselves. For four of eight personality variables, subjects' opposite-sex parents scored similarly to their partners. Also, subjects perceived their significant others as similar to their parents across all variables. Relationship satisfaction was significantly related to the degree to which participants perceive similarity between their parents and partners. Implications for understanding how people's parents influence both actual mate selection and romantic partner perception are discussed.
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