Influence of fathers on partner relationships of gay preferences
Today, we will share with you the results of our further research focused on sexual imprinting. The main objective of our study was to find out whether fathers influence the formation of partner preferences in their gay sons and, consequently, whether the quality of relationship with the father during childhood modulates the emergence of these partner preferences.
The vast majority of studies conducted so far have been focused on heterosexually oriented individuals and on the influence of parents of the opposite sex. For example, one British study showed that men preferred their partners had the same color of their eyes and hair as their mother did. In another study, independent evaluators were paired on the basis of the similarity of the photographs of men’s mothers and their partners. In the case when men retrospectively evaluated their relationship with their mother as positive, the evaluators were able to correctly assign the photographs to each other. Only three studies have focused on homosexual men so far. The first one investigated the question of whether the fact that the respondent’s parents smoked during his childhood may influence his or her partner preferences. The results showed that those respondents who had at least one parent who smoked, preferred smokers more than respondents whose parents were non-smokers. A second, Swedish, study on wearing dioptric spectacles on the other hand showed that, when both parents wore spectacles, respondents preferred partners wearing spectacles less than when their parents did not wear them. In the instance when only one of the parents wore spectacles, no significant influence on partner preferences was found. The latest study, conducted by our research team, dealt with preferences and real choices in body hair and beards in the Czech and Brazilian populations. No significant influence of the fathers was found in the case of homosexual men.
The main objective of our study was to find out whether fathers influence the formation of partner preferences in their gay sons and, consequently, whether the quality of the relationship with the father during childhood modulates the emergence of these partner preferences.
The participants were 252 gay men aged 18-40 (average age 28.1 years) who grew up at least until 15 years of age in a joint household with both parents. The research was conducted online and respondents were first asked to provide their basic socio-demographic data. They were also asked about socio-demographic (political thinking, religion, material security, profession or field of their studies), physical (height, weight, perceived physical attractiveness, masculinity, eye color, hair color, beard length, muscle mass, BMI, body hair) and personal characteristics (extraversion, agreeableness, openness to experience, conscientiousness, emotional stability) of their biological father and of their ideal partner. Last but not least, they completed a standardized questionnaire focusing on the quality of the relationship with the father during childhood.
The results showed that men preferred partners who resembled their fathers in certain socio-demographic characteristics (namely material security and political thinking), physical characteristics (height, weight, masculinity and BMI in particular) and personality characteristics (namely, in agreeableness). In contrast to our assumptions, the quality of the relationship with the father during childhood played only a marginal role in all three groups of characteristics.
The results show that fathers have a certain influence on partner preferences of homosexual men, which, in the context of research on sexual imprinting, is fundamental, as it shows that sexual imprinting can have an effect on the same/preferred gender parent and not only the opposite one. However, the similarity between the father and the ideal partner has not been found in all of the characteristics studied, so the question remains, what other mechanisms can be at play here. It could for example be a by-product of homogamy, in other words – a preference for self-similarity. The results also showed that the parent of the preferred gender plays an important role, which is a direction that future research should take. This research was the first to focus on sexual imprinting in homosexual men and to include the quality of relationship with father during childhood in its methodology. For a deeper understanding of the mechanism of sexual imprinting in homosexual men, further research is needed.
Once again, thank you very much for your interest and your possible participation in the study.
If you would like to learn more about the study, please write an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org and in turn you will be sent a bachelor’s thesis that deals with the topic.
For the research team
Bc. Kristyna Taskovska & Mgr. Zuzana Štěrbová
Faculty of Humanities, Charles University, 1st Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, National Institute of Mental Health