Do Opposites Attract or Do People Look For Similar Partners?

Do opposites attract or are people looking for similar partners?

August 25, 2007 at 7:35 pm

“Opposites Attract” is the most common answer when you see a pair of opposites – a tall woman and a short man, or a party man with a quiet introvert. Still, we all know couples who have similar personalities – they either like the same restaurants or are both decent freaks. Do people feel drawn to others who complement their personality, or are they looking for a partner like themselves because he / she reinforces each other in a positive way?

It turns out that no hypothesis is true. A study of 36 couples found that there were no significant similarities or differences between personalities. However, two interesting findings emerged:

  1. People had partners who were similarly complacent about themselves
  2. People’s perceptions of their partners have been biased about their ideal selves

In other words, someone with low self-esteem is more likely to have a partner with low self-esteem, while someone who likes themselves is looking for a partner who also likes who they are. To address the second finding, there was no correlation between the personalities of each partner, but there was a correlation between a person’s ideal self-concept and how they perceived their partner. So, if you want to be organized, you might think that your partner is more organized than he or she really is.

Klohnen, EC & Mendelsohn, GA (1998). Partner selection based on personality traits: a couple-centered approach. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24 (3), 268-278.

Entry filed under: Dating, Personality, Relationships.

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