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J Biosoc Sci. 2004 Mar;36(2):235-50.

Evidence of phenotypic and social assortative mating for anthropometric and physiological traits in couples from the Basque country (Spain).

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  • 1Universidad del PaĆ­s Vasco (UPV/EHU), Bilbao, Spain.


This study examined 28 anthropometrical and physiological traits in 107 married couples living in the province of Biscay (Basque Country, Spain). The aim was to verify the existence of a phenotypic and/or social preference when choosing a mate. For this, correlations between pairs of spouses were estimated by maximum likelihood, and a model of familial transmission (path analysis) was applied in order to test if social homogamy between mates existed. The results provide significant evidence of phenotypic as well as social homogamy in several of the studied traits. Even if an assortment existed when choosing a mate for bony traits such as height, the effect of cohabitation cannot be discounted as the main causal factor for the high phenotypic resemblance observed between spouses for body composition traits. In addition, with the social homogeneity of the studied sample, significant evidence of the existence of social homogamy between mates was only found for 20% of the studied variables.

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