Date of Award

Spring 1997

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Rebecca Warner


The present studies were designed to examine the template matching hypothesis, a prediction based on Freud's (1927) psychoanalytic theory which proposes that people choose romantic partners who are similar to their opposite-sex parents. While some research has demonstrated that such a phenomenon does exist for physical characteristics (e.g., Jedlicka, 1984), research on this phenomenon in regards to personality dimensions has been relatively inconclusive. The primary objectives of the present studies were to determine (a) the extent to which people choose partners with personalities similar to their opposite-sex parents, (b) the extent to which people perceive that their romantic partners have similar personality characteristics as their opposite-sex parents, and (c) the differential importance that same and opposite-sex parents have in determining how people select and perceive their partners. In the present studies, subjects were asked to describe their parents and significant others in terms of several characteristics. In addition, their parents and significant others were asked to describe themselves along these same characteristics. Using this methodology, the present studies allowed for the assessment of the extent to which the template matching phenomenon exists, the extent to which people perceive this phenomenon to exist, and the relative importance of both same and opposite-sex parents in determining the selection and perception of romantic partners. For four of eight primary personality variables, the template matching phenomenon was observed; subjects' opposite-sex parents were indeed similar to their romantic partners. Further, for all eight relevant variables, subjects perceived similarity to exist between both their perceptions of their partners and their perceptions of their opposite-sex parents and between their conceptualizations of their ideal significant others and their opposite-sex parents. Finally, perceptual similarity between perceptions of significant others and same-sex parents was observed as well. The implications this research has for understanding how people's parents influence both actual mate selection and romantic partner perception are discussed.