Do people tend to select romantic partners that are similar to them or opposite to them? And does spouse similarity lead to marital happiness? In one of the most comprehensive studies ever undertaken on these questions, researchers at the University of Iowa find that people tend to marry those who are similar in attitudes, religion and values. However, it is similarity in personality that appears to be more important in having a happy marriage. The findings appear in the February issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA).
Psychologist Eva C. Klohnen, Ph.D., and graduate student Shanhong Luo, M.A., of the University of Iowa looked at assortative mating issues (mating based on similar or opposite characteristics) among 291 newlyweds who had participated in the Iowa Marital Assessment Project. The newlyweds had been married less than a year at the time the study began and had dated each other for an average of three and a half years. The couples were assessed on a broad range of personality characteristics, attitudes and relationship quality indicators.
Results show that couples were highly similar on attitudes and values; however, they had little or no above-chance similarity on personality-related domains such as attachment, extraversion, conscientiousness and positive or negative emotions. There is no evidence that opposites attract. What is most intriguing is that when the researchers assessed marital quality and happiness, they found that personality similarity was related to marital satisfaction, but attitude similarity was not.
David Partenheimer | EurekAlert!
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