Selection of kin for spouse: Importance of socioeconomic status, reputation and beauty

Omran Bakoush, M. Gary Nicholls, Srdjan Denic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives Kin marriages are often arranged in societies with many kinship groups and this is believed to be related to poverty and associated lack of education and security. We examined (i) whether choice of kin for spouse was affected by the improved socioeconomic and security conditions, and (ii) compare relative importance of family reputation vs. family wealth and social status and physical appearance in selection of future spouse. Methods In an electronic survey, 268 Emirati medical students were asked to provide information about their families, biological relation to preferred future spouse and rank the importance of family reputation, family wealth, family social status, and physical appearance in selecting a future spouse. Frequency of kin marriages in two generations was examined within the context of socioeconomic development of the nation. Results Kin marriage rate among parents (36.4%, 79/217) and likely future rate among their children (31.4%, 37/118) were similar (p = 0.35). Awareness of harms of inbreeding had a small but statistically significant deterring effect on selecting kin for spouse. The respondents ranked family reputation (72.2%) as most important in comparison to that for the family wealth (5.6%) and social status (9.2%) and spouse physical attractiveness (13.0%). However, family reputation was equally important for the participants with different preferences of kin and non-kin for spouse (p = 0.57). Conclusions The frequency of kin marriages in studied population did not change significantly in the last generation. Knowledge of biological harm of inbreeding has only a small inhibitory effect on choice of kin for spouse. Family reputation was far more important in selection of spouse than family wealth, social status and beauty of spouse, but reputation was uncorrelated with choice of kin for spouse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-292
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of King Saud University - Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Consanguinity
  • Inbreeding
  • Indirect-reciprocal altruism
  • Kin altruism
  • Tribalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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