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The research question for this study is what traits do parents desire in daughter-in-laws and son-in-laws (Apostolou, 2010). This is an interesting topic to study because there is not much research regarding this topic. For this article, there are a couple hypothesizes. The first is that parents prefer an in law that will benefit them and their family (Apostolou, 2010). The second hypothesis is that the desired qualities are different depending on the sex of the in law (Apostolou, 2010). Thirdly, a parent’s preference towards and in law depends on the society that they live in (Apostolou, 2010). Societal norms can play a key role in any social decisions. The methods used were collecting data from 186 pre-industrial societies and researchers observed various data about marriage (Apostolou, 2010). Overall, the results found that there were key characteristics or traits differ in son-in-laws versus daughter-in-laws (Apostolou, 2010). Some examples of top characteristics for a son-in-law are having good character, good worker, favorable social status, and being wealthy (Apostolou, 2010). The results for a daughter-in-law’s traits are good family background, good character, good worker and good health (Apostolou, 2010). It is interesting that wealth is far more important in a son-in-law than a daughter-in-law (Apostolou, 2010). I think this is due to more traditional view of a man and woman’s roles within a relationship. In many countries, women still do not have as many rights and freedom as we do here in the United States. Both categories value good character in future in laws as a top three characteristic (Apostolou, 2010). I think it would be interesting to just focus on the United States instead of such a wide variety of countries. I would be interested to learn if the overall results would be different from our society and others.

Apostolou, M. (2010). Parental choice: What parents want in a son-in-law and a daughter-in-law across 67 pre-industrial societies. British Journal of Psychology, 101, 695-704.

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This study offered three hypotheses: parents desire traits in an in-law that will be beneficial to them and their family, these traits are predicated by the gender of the in-law, and the desired traits are also incumbent upon the subsistence type of culture (hunting/gathering or agro-pastoral societies) (Apostolou, 2010).

The population of interest was all parents in 186 pre-industrial societies with children for whom marriage to a future in-law was considered or to be considered in the future. The sample used was collected from the 67 societies within that population that had information on marriage type available and in which courtship (children select their spouse, rather than the parents) was not the typical pattern of marriage (Apostolou, 2010).

To determine the frequencies of preferred traits in in-laws as reported by parents, the authors used the ratio chi-squared test. Since this is nominal data and there were so few observations for each trait in each category, this was the optimum test. Priority was assumed based on the frequency of use for the traits in question. For this study, the dependent variable was the frequency of responses per particular trait. The traits include character, family background, work ethic, industriousness, social status, health, looks, economic prospects, and chastity (Apostolou, 2010). Since these traits are categorical, but ranked by frequency, I believe they fit into the ordinal data type. The independent variables were gender of the prospective in-law (daughter or son) and they type of society (agro-pastoral or hunter-gatherer). This data is nominal categorical. Statistical analyses revealed that gender does yield several statistically significant differences in traits: resource acquisition, working ability, amount of resources/wealth, social status, and good economic prospects were more frequently reported for sons-in-law than for daughters-in-laws. Conversely, parents seek daughters-in-law who are chaste at a frequency that is statistically significant. For the subsistence differences, agro-pastoral societies value wealth and family background at frequencies statistically significant from the hunter-gatherer communities. The authors concluded that the traits parents reported as important do in fact serve a purpose in being beneficial for themselves and their kin, failing to reject the null hypothesis.


The authors should have explicitly listed their test as a chi-square test of independence because they are looking for two variables- desired traits and gender or desired traits and type of societal subsistence, making this a more complex test than what a chi-square would be able to discern since it was designed to measure only one independent variable (Sukal, 2013). The null hypothesis (1) would have been written out as “there is no significant relationship between the traits reported as important to parents and the potential beneficence of those traits to the parents and kin” with alternate as there is a significant relationship between the traits reported as important to parents and the potential beneficence of those traits to the parents and kin”. For the second, the null hypothesis (2) would be written out as “there is no significant relationship between sex of the in-law and preferred traits”, and the alternate “there is a significant relationship between sex of the in-law and preferred traits”. Finally, the last null hypothesis (3) would have been “there is no significant difference in societal type of subsistence and preferred traits” compared to the alternate “there is a significant difference in societal type of subsistence and preferred traits”.

According to Coughlan, Cronan, and Ryan (2007), there are multiple components to examine when critiquing a journal article. The authors stated the purpose of the study poignantly and titled the article appropriately. The content flowed well enough, and the discussion presented the correlations discovered as correlations vice causation and offered well-thought out speculations as to why the result panned out as it did. For example, the authors pointed out that in some of these societies, the marriage prospects of daughters is much more closely controlled by parents, therefore potentially providing more responses of desired traits in sons-in-law than for prospective daughters-in-law (Apostolou, 2010). With more responses and therefore a larger sample of desired traits in males, the data for preferred traits in sons-in-law will potentially be skewed. The parameters in the results were not formatted like the rest of the font (maybe a problem with my computer?) which made the results and discussion a little tricky to decipher. I am a little speculative about the information gathering technique- analyzing data from the SPCC and having two coders formulate algorithms to find the correlation between samples. The authors did not get into the specifics, but they did mention how both coders independently created their code sheets with small subsamples to test for biases before using the full sample of societies. The resources were correctly


            This study was conducted in an attempt to find what parents in pre-industrial societies find as the most desirable traits in prospective son/daughters-in-law and if the type of society or gender are driving forces behind those preferences. After utilizing a chi-square test, researchers found that only one statistically significant differences did in fact exist in the parents’ preferred traits for prospective in-laws between sex and subsistence types. Certain traits appeared to be valued more for the males, while other traits more so for females. The subsistence type of the society also yielded statistically significant differences for preferred traits. All of the preferred traits, for both variables tested, were the type that would prove beneficial for the parents and families. References

Apostolou, M. (2010). Parental choice: What parents want in a son-in-law and a daughter-in-law across 67 pre-industrial societies. British Journal of Psychology, 695-704.

Coughlan, M., Cronan, P., & Ryan, F. (2007). Step-by-step guide to critiquing research. Part 1: Quantitative research. British Journal of Nursing, 16(11), 658-663.

Sukal, M. (2013). Research Methods: Applying Statistics in Research. Bridgepoint Education.

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