Romantic peas in a pod

There is ample research to show that married couples are more similar than random pairs of people. The question is whether spouses influence each other over time or is their similarity what attracted them in the first place?

The two processes being investigated here can be properly named “selection” and “convergence”. Selection refers to similarities that exist and which form the basis for partner selection. Convergence, on the other hand, refers to partners gradually becoming more like each other over time.

To investigate whether selection or convergence determines the similarity that exists between romantic partners researchers examined data on more than 1200 couples. This makes it one of the largest studies of its kind. The results showed that partners are similar because they selected someone similar in the first instance, rather than becoming more alike as years of partnership progressed.

The only exception to this was the personality trait of aggression. A more aggressive partner was likely to pass that quality on to a partner, presumably because the partner may learn to respond to aggression with aggression over time.

This has certain implications for anyone choosing a life partner. On the one hand it means that you can relax about their tendency to wear red cardigans; it’s not catching. On other hand the authors do say that shared traits are likely to be passed on to children. So if you don’t want your tendency for hoarding to be carried on unto the next generation then try to select a natural de-clutterer as your partner.

The really big question though is would the findings of this study hold true for pets and their owners? After all, it is generally accepted that owners do resemble their pets but is this a case of convergence or selection? Either way, it is of grave concern for all owners of bull-dogs, ferrets, and Mexican Walking fish.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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