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Everyone seems to agree that opposites attract. Young and old people, happy and distressed couples, single folks and married partners — all apparently buy the classic adage about love.
Relationship experts have written books based on this assumption. Whether people really find opposites more attractive has been the subject of many scientific studies.
Researchers have investigated what combination makes for better romantic partners — those who are similar, different, or opposite? Scientists call these three possibilities the homogamy hypothesis, the heterogamy hypothesis and the complementarity hypothesis, respectively.
The clear winner is homogamy. Since the s, social scientists have conducted over studies to determine whether similarity in terms of attitudespersonality traitsoutside interestsvalues and other characteristics leads to attraction. They found an irrefutable association between being similar to and being interested in the other person. In other words, there is clear and convincing evidence that birds of a feather flock together.
For human Do opposites attract in relationships, the attractiveness of similarity is so strong that it is found across cultures. Because similarity is associated with attraction, it makes sense that individuals in committed relationships tend to be alike in many ways. Sometimes this is called assortative matingalthough this term is more often used to describe the ways in which people with similar levels of educational attainment, financial means and physical appearance tend to pair up.
Both the homogamy hypothesis and the complementarity hypothesis could be true. So is there scientific support that opposites might attract at least some of the time?
Love stories often include people finding partners who seem to have traits that they lack, like a good girl falling for a bad boy.
In this way, they appear to complement one another. For example, one spouse might be outgoing and funny while the other is shy and serious. In fact, one could imagine the friends and relatives of a shy person trying to set them up with an outgoing person to draw the shy one out.
The question is whether people actually seek out complementary partners or if that just happens in the movies. There is essentially no research evidence that differences in personality, interests, education, politics, upbringing, religion or other traits lead to greater attraction. For example, Do opposites attract in relationships one study researchers found that college students preferred descriptions of mates whose written bios were similar to themselves or their ideal self over those described as complementing themselves.
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Other studies have supported this finding. For example, introverts are no more attracted to extraverts than they are to anyone else.
Despite the overwhelming evidence, why does the myth of heterogamy endure? There are probably a few factors at work here. First, contrasts tend to stand out.
Even if the partners in a couple match on tons of characteristics, they may end up arguing about the ways in which they are different.
Do opposites attract in relationships People persist in thinking opposites attract — when in reality, relatively similar partners just become a bit more complementary as time goes by. Available editions United Kingdom. Filling in my weak spots with your strengths Love stories often include people finding partners who seem to have traits that they lack, like a good girl falling for a bad boy. Why are we so sure opposites attract? We produce articles written by researchers and academics.
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