- Scientists found that couples’ political views and religious attitudes coincide
- Romantic partners were also likely to have had similar substance use
- Scientists analyzed 130 personality traits of millions of couples
Whether it’s Jack and Rose on Titanic or Danny and Sandy on Grease, we believe opposites attract.
But analysis of more than 130 personality traits from millions of couples suggests the adage just isn’t true.
“Our results show that feathered birds are actually more likely to group together,” said author Tanya Horwitz of the University of Colorado Boulder.
Her team in the US combined data from nearly 200 previous studies, dating back to 1903, with their own analysis.
They looked at dozens of characteristics in couples, including parents, married couples, fiancés and partners who lived together.
Researchers found that characteristics such as political and religious attitudes, level of education, and certain measures of intelligence were very similar between the pairs (Stock).
Partners were also likely to share traits associated with substance use – with heavy smokers, drinkers, and teetotalers being strongly inclined to mate with those who had similar habits (stock).
They discovered that traits such as political and religious beliefs, level of education, and certain measures of intelligence were very similar between the pairs.
The partners also likely shared traits associated with substance use – with heavy smokers, drinkers and teetotalers being strongly inclined to mate with those who had similar habits.
The researchers also found associations between height, weight, medical conditions and personality traits.
The characteristic in which couples were most similar was the year of birth.
But from their analysis, the team concluded that there was “no compelling evidence” that opposites attract.
Overall, they found that between 82 and 89 percent of the partners analyzed were more likely to be similar.
For only 3 percent of the traits, individuals tended to work with people who were different from them.
This included chronotype—whether someone is a “morning lark” or a “night owl.”
“These results suggest that even in situations where we feel we have choices about our relationships, there may be mechanisms at work behind the scenes that we are not fully aware of,” Ms. Horwitz said.
The team, whose research is published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, said couples could share common traits for a variety of reasons.
Some people are attracted to people who are similar to them, while others become more alike the longer they are together.
However, there could be long-term consequences — for example, if short people are more likely to have children with other short individuals, there could be more size extremes in the next generation, they said.
Meanwhile, connecting people with people from similar educational backgrounds could inadvertently widen the socioeconomic gap.