Partners’ level of similarity in their values, backgrounds, and life goals promotes attraction and relationship success. Although “birds of a feather” may flock together, do those similarly-feathered birds always have the best relationships over the long flight ahead? Recent research on self-control suggests that the answer is both yes and no.
Entries in similarity (23)
I Dislike the Dog that Likes the Rabbit that I Dislike: Why Do We Like Some People but Dislike Others?
The notion that people prefer similar others is as empirically-validated a research finding as they come in our field (see here, for example). Similar people make us feel better about ourselves, and who doesn’t like somebody that makes us feel better about ourselves? In fact, the preference for similarity is so common that it is considered a general characteristic of the human condition, and it’s not hard to imagine how preferring to hang around similar people, and avoiding dissimilar people, might benefit survival.
Recently, researchers have begun to identify exactly how early this preference for similar others begins to develop. One can’t help but wonder whether this “universal” preference for similar others is nature (i.e., we’re born with it) or nurture (i.e., others, such as our parents, teach us to like similar others and not like dissimilar others).
In the 20th installment of Sage’s Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dr. Sue Sprecher (Illinois State University) and Stanislov Treger (DePaul University) talk about their work on self-disclosure during first encounters with strangers. Specifically, the researchers designed a series of experiments to determine whether people enjoy interacting with, and like, a stranger more when those people talk about themselves versus listen to the stranger do all the talking.
To test this question, Sprecher and Treger randomly assigned people to either talk to a stranger or listen to a stranger talk for 12 minutes. What did they find? Listeners, compared to talkers, were happier with the interaction, liked the stranger better, and felt closer to the stranger.
You know those people on Facebook who tag their romantic partners in every…single…post? Or how about the people whose uploaded photos almost always contain their partners? If you’re anything like me, you may find it somewhat annoying, but these kinds of behaviors convey important information about couples’ relationships.
Previously, we have discussed how romantic partners’ senses of self gradually begin merging together and overlap with one another. In other words, we begin to take on some of our romantic partner’s aspects into our sense of who we are (e.g., you may find that you have picked up interests or hobbies that your partner introduced you to), and we begin to talk more in terms of “us” and “we” than “me” and “him/her”. In a recent study, researchers surveyed 276 individuals (mostly college students) about various aspects of their romantic relationships, including the degree of self-partner overlap and the content of their Facebook profiles.
Now that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, you may be worried about picking out the perfect gift for your partner. Is it something he will like? Will she be disappointed by your efforts? And how is a partner’s response to your gift related to thoughts about the future of your relationship?
This seems like a straightforward question. Gifts reflect how well you know your partner and signify if you have similar tastes in things (and there’s lots of research showing that similarity predicts liking and attraction); if I pick something for you that you like, it is a signal that we are compatible. But as with most things in life, it’s not that simple…
Let’s play a quick game. What do all of these celebrity couples have in common?: Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries; Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony; Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher; Heidi Klum and Seal; Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. If you said divorced, you’d be correct (we would have also accepted “lack of talent” as a correct answer). These couples are just a few among the many who had a marriage that didn’t survive, and some, like Kim and Kris, had barely left the wedding chapel by the time they were divorced! (Clearly, they didn’t think this one through before having a multi-million dollar wedding!).
While relationship researchers were at the IARR conference in Chicago, personality psychologists gathered in Trieste, Italy for the 16th annual European Conference on Personality. I was a part of a paper session entitled “Social Processes in Personality Change” along with Kathrin Jonkmann and Beatrice Rammstedt. All of our talks involved relationships with romantic partners, and the myriad of ways in which they contribute to changes in personality.
The Consultant was back in town this week and invited me for dinner and a show. The last time I saw him was over two weeks ago for our first date, so I was excited. He picked me up wearing a suit and carrying a bouquet of flowers. Very nice. My mother, who lives with me and was watching my children for the night, was impressed.
Have you ever found yourself walking in the same direction as a stranger (e.g., down the hall at work/school; through the shopping mall) and found yourself oddly attracted to that person? No? Yeah, me neither. But, and hear me out, even though we don’t consciously feel an immense desire for this person, we may be more attracted to the stranger than if her or she had been walking the other direction.
Most of the time our articles focus on current, cutting edge studies. Yet, the nature of science is that it continually builds on findings from previous research. Inevitably, current research stands on the shoulders of giants. Here are some of the “giants” or classic works in attraction research...
With only two kid-free Happy Hours and a Friday night each week at my disposal for establishing a dating life, my time is limited for this adventure. Surprisingly, the pool of on-line dating eligible bachelors around my age is quite large, particularly given my new “casual” approach. How can I narrow the playing field down to a select few that I can actually make time to meet with in person?
A few months ago I wrote about research conducted in my lab on predicting the stability (i.e., persistence vs. breakup) of dating relationships. That article received a lot of traffic, but some readers have asked if similar research has been done on predicting whether a marriage will continue or not. Fortunately, researchers have tackled this question as well. Here are five factors that predict staying married versus getting divorced.
As noted by my colleagues in previous articles, similarity between potential romantic partners predicts feelings of attraction and love. “Similarity” can include things like similar backgrounds (e.g., nationality), physical features, personality, hobbies, attitudes, and beliefs.
What about music preferences?
Michael submitted the following question:
I am in a relationship with this guy and things are feeling rocky right now. I feel like we argue pretty frequently. I try to argue with I-statements and repeat his concerns with active listening. I am trying to communicate but the concerns that I bring up are small to him.
As we all know, the dating scene can be frustrating. For example, we’ve all probably dealt with the uncertainty of a first date in which we are trying to decipher whether our date is actually interested in us or if he or she is simply putting on a happy face to avoid hurting our feelings. Wouldn’t it be great to find a subtle way to determine whether you and your date are going to “click”? As you can probably guess, researchers have found a way to predict just this based on the words each person uses when communicating.
What do Kim Kardashian and Prince William have in common? No, this isn’t the start of a bad joke; the answer is as straightforward as the letters in their names. Both Kim and William married individuals who share at least one of their initials (Kim Kardashian recently wed Kris Humphries and Prince William Mountbatten-Windsor married Kate Middleton - bet you didn't know his last name until now)!
Last week, as the supposed Rapture was looming, how were things going in your relationship? Did the impending end of the world and your earthly demise change how you were thinking about your partner? You might be surprised to learn that this is something that scholars have studied quite a bit, working from the general perspective of "terror management theory."
A recent post discussed the role of similarity in romantic relationships; do “opposites attract” or do “birds of a feather flock together?” Fortunately, the science of relationships has been able to help flush out what could be regarded as conflicting advice about what to look for in a partner.
There is very little research to suggest that opposites really do attract when it comes to romantic partnerships. In fact, romantic partners have been found to typically be similar in a variety of qualities ranging from height and weight to attractiveness to educational, ethnic, and religious background. It seems that most of us find validation in keeping company similar to ourselves and we tend to like others who have qualities that are familiar to us.