With the increased exposure to Western cultures and the transition towards modernization, Chinese society has experienced substantial social change, which has influenced marital relationships. Although recent research has documented contemporary patterns of marital interaction, less is known about what Chinese adults consider to be an ideal marital partner and what their parent' roles play in the mate selection process. What do contemporary Chinese adults value in a partner? How much parental influence is involved in choosing an ideal marital partner? These questions were addressed by conducting six focus groups in Taipei, Taiwan. The focus groups included a total of 51 participants (male = 25; female = 26) and included separate groups for middle-aged married men, middle-aged married women, younger married men, younger married women, never-married young adult men, and never-married young adult women. The results from qualitative analysis indicated three major themes in an ideal partner: family-of-origin (e.g., similar family background, good relationship with in-laws), personal qualities (e.g., financially stable, responsible), and relationship qualities (e.g., getting along, communicating well, mutual respect, gender equality). These results indicate that contemporary Chinese adults value a combination of traditional Chinese (e.g., similar family background) and Western (e.g. good communication) values. When it comes to parental approval on their marriage, most younger participants reported that they would marry a person despite their parents' disapproval, although many indicated that they would want their parents' approval because it would increase family harmony. The older participants, on the other hand, were more likely to still favor parents having significant influence on who their children marry. Overall, the young Chinese participants showed greater incorporation of Western values than the older participants. These findings suggest that modern Chinese society is being increasingly influenced by individualistic Western values.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Marriage and Family Therapy



Date Submitted


Document Type





Chinese mate selection, qualitative research, focus groups, mate selection preferences, parental influence