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Thursday
Aug132015

Seinfeld and Similarity – Relevant Relationship Advice From the 90s

With my favorite shows on summer hiatus, I’ve found myself reverting back to a few of my trusty standbys.  Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of re-watching the comic genius and relationship hijinks of Seinfeld. Sure, I know all of the lines and can anticipate all of the plot twists, but there’s something pleasingly familiar about my sitcom pals from the good ol’ days. While happily meandering through memory lane, it occurred to me that it has been over twenty-five years since Seinfeld first aired. To highlight the show’s continued relevance, I thought I might remind you of (if you are my age) or introduce you to (if you are younger) some of my favorite relationship “facts” that have stood the test of time. In this article, I will draw from the “The Invitations” episode from 1996 to highlight the role of similarity in attraction. 

As you likely already know, people are attracted to similar others.1 In fact, eHarmony has built a multi-million dollar empire on the premise that people with similar dispositions make suitable relationship partners.  However, similarity and attraction are not limited to personality characteristics.2 Matching on other factors like age, education, socioeconomic status, physical attractiveness, attitudes, and even name-letter initials has been linked to increased attraction and relationship satisfaction.3,4,5,6 Despite the overabundance of scientifically-validated literature on the topic, I think no one has described the phenomenon better than Jerry Seinfeld when he said,

I know what I’ve been looking for all these years.  Myself.  I’ve been waiting for me to come along.  And now I’ve swept myself off my feet!

In the clip below, Jerry has just met Jeanine Steinman, played by Janeane Garofalo, who has an uncanny number of similarities with Jerry, including favorite food and name-letter initials.  As you will see, these similarities lead them to the conclusion that they belong together.  Jerry quickly falls in love and the two even become engaged!  Of course, in true Seinfeld fashion, he eventually finds a way to discredit Jeanine as a viable romantic partner and the two of them part ways. But it is worth noting that similarity between romantic partners has been associated with greater relationship success,7 and should the two have stayed together they may have found marital bliss.  For the sake of the show, I’m glad he didn’t.  Enjoy!

 

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1Byrne, D. (1961). Interpersonal attraction and attitude similarity. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 62, 713715. 

2Klohnen, E. C, & Luo, S., (2003). Interpersonal attraction and personality: What is attractive – self similarity, ideal similarity, complementarity or attachment security? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85(4), 709-722.

3Buss, D. M. (1985). Human mate selection. American Scientist, 73(1), 47-51.

4Berscheid, E., Dion, K., Walster, E., & Walster, G. W. (1971).  Physical activeness and dating choice:  A test of the matching hypothesis.  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 7(2), 173-189.

5Luo, S., & Klohnen, E. C. (2005). Assortative mating and marital quality in newlyweds: A couple-centered approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88(2), 304-326.

6Jones, J. T., Pelham, B. W., Carvallo, M., & Mirenberg, M. C. (2004). How do I love thee? Let me count the Js: Implicit egotism and interpersonal attraction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 665–683.

7Gaunt, R. (2006). Couple similarity and marital satisfaction: Are similar spouses happier? Journal of Personality, 74, 14011420.

Dr. Sadie Leder-Elder - Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Dr. Leder-Elder's research focuses on how people balance their desires for closeness and protection against rejection, specifically during partner selection, goal negotiation within established romantic relationships, and the experience of romantic love, hurt feelings, and relationship rekindling. Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger... Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

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