Good genes, good providers, and good fathers and mothers: The withholding of parental investment by married couples

Lei Chang, Huijing Lu, Xiao Qin Zhu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


A conflict of interest between the sexes prevents optimal parental investment in parents in monogamous species. Most notably in biparental birds, parents invest in their young according to mate value, with the parent of higher (lower) mate value reducing (increasing) their parental investment. We tested similar hypotheses in a sample of 408 married couples with children. The results showed that, for both men and women (but more for the men than the women), parental warmth and care correlated negatively with the extent to which good-gene and good-provider mate values compared favorably with those of their peers and spouse, whereas good-father and good-mother mate values correlated positively with parental investment. These findings highlight a sexual conflict of interest in otherwise overly romanticized marital relationships and elucidate the evolution of good-father and good-mother mate preferences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-211
Number of pages13
JournalEvolutionary Behavioral Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • Good fathers
  • Good genes
  • Good providers
  • Mate values
  • Parental investment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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