- Researchers analyzed 130 personality triates from millions of British couples
- The level of education and certain measures of intelligence were very similar
Whether it’s Jack and Rose in Titanic, Danny and Sandy in Grease, or the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast, 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 combined data from nearly 200 previous studies, dating back to 1903, with their own current analysis.
They examined dozens of characteristics in couples, including parents, married couples, fiancés, and cohabiting partners.
University of Colorado Boulder scientists found links between height, weight, medical conditions and personality traits in British couples (stock image)
In both analyses, they found that characteristics such as political and religious attitudes, level of education and certain measures of intelligence were very similar between the pairs.
The partners also likely shared traits associated with substance use—heavy smokers, heavy drinkers, and teetotalers all tended strongly to mate with those who had similar habits.
They found that there were also associations between height, weight, medical conditions and personality traits between partners.
Unsurprisingly, year of birth was the trait on which couples most closely resembled each other.
In their analysis, the team concluded that there was “no compelling evidence” that opposites attract.
Overall, they found that partners were more likely to be similar on 82 to 89 percent of the characteristics analyzed.
On only 3 percent of the traits and only part of the analysis, individuals tended to work with people who were different from them.
These included chronotype—whether someone is a “morning lark” or a “night owl,” worry tendencies, and hearing difficulties.
This correlation is small, they added.
Whether it’s Jack and Rose in Titanic, Danny and Sandy in Grease, or the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast (pictured), we believe opposites attract.
“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 short people, and tall people are more likely with tall people, there could be larger size extremes in the next generation, they said.
Meanwhile, connecting people with those of similar educational backgrounds could inadvertently widen the socioeconomic gap.
If you’re dating someone who looks just like you, you’ll be in good company with celebs like Kristen Stewart and Courteney Cox
Studies have long shown that opposites don’t attract, and that people are more likely to date people who resemble them.
Celebrities around the world are proof of this – including blonde Oscar nominee Kristen Stewart and her fiancee Dylan Meyer.
Meanwhile, Friends star Courteney Cox and her partner, Snow Patrol guitarist Johnny McDaid, are known for their incredibly similar face shapes, bone structure and piercing blue eyes.
But the phenomenon isn’t just reserved for the rich and famous — an Instagram page called @siblingsordating is dedicated to snaps of couples who look eerily alike.
We may be naturally attracted to other people who look like us because the sight evokes a feeling of familiarity or kinship.
Human rights attorney Alexi Ashe and her husband, comedian Seth Meyers attend the 2023 Met Gala in New York City
A 2012 study by the Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution in Montpellier, France, found that more than a third of men were most attracted to images of women that had been digitally manipulated to resemble their own facial features.
There’s also the notion that couples become more alike after years together, a theory supported by a 1987 University of Michigan study that found that partners who weren’t alike early in a marriage became more alike experienced some level of positive convergence correlated with couples’ assessments of marital quality.
However, this idea was contradicted by a more recent 2020 Stanford University study published in Scientific Reports.
Researchers have compiled a database of photos of more than 500 couples taken within the first two years of their marriage and between 20 and 69 years later.
They asked volunteers to examine a photo of one person and six other people, including their spouse, rank them by similarity, and perform the same task using facial recognition software.
However, they found no evidence that couples morphed into one another as they got older, and concluded that spouses’ faces tended to be similar from the start.