Do Opposites Really Attract? We Ask the Experts


Do Opposites Really Attract? We Ask the Experts
Despite their differing personalities and interests, can opposites find a unique harmony in their contrasting qualities?

It seems that opposites don’t attract according to a new study by University of Colorado Boulder. The research looked at more than 130 traits and involved millions of couples.

Instead, for 82% to 89% of traits, partners tended to be similar.

“Our findings demonstrate that birds of a feather are indeed more likely to flock together,” said first author Tanya Horwitz, from the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and the Institute for Behavioral Genetics (IBG).

Same, same but different 

For the study, traits like political and religious attitudes, level of education, and certain measures of IQ showed particularly high correlations.

Traits around substance use also showed high correlations, with heavy smokers, heavy drinkers and teetotallers tending strongly to partner up with those with similar habits. Meanwhile, traits like height and weight, medical conditions and personality traits showed far lower but still positive correlations.

In the meta-analysis, the researchers found “no compelling evidence” on any trait that opposites attract.

Even seldom-studied traits, like how many sexual partners a person had had or whether they had been breastfed as a child, showed some correlation. “These findings suggest that even in situations where we feel like we have a choice about our relationships, there may be mechanisms happening behind the scenes of which we aren’t fully aware,” said Horwitz.


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