Do Opposites Attract or Do People Look For Similar Partners?

August 25, 2007 at 7:35 pm 22 comments

“Opposites attract” is the common response when you see a contrasting couple — a tall woman and a short man, or a party person with a quiet introvert. Yet we all know couples who have the similar personalities — they like the same restaurants or are both neat freaks. So are people attracted to those unlike themselves to complement their personalities, or do people seek out a partner just like themselves because it’s positively reinforcing?

It turns out, neither hypothesis is true. A study of 36 couples found that there was no significant inter-personality similarity or differences. However, a two interesting findings emerged:

  1. People had partners who were similarly self-satisfied with themselves
  2. People’s perceptions of their partners were biased towards their ideal self

In other words, someone who was low self-esteem has a higher likelihood of having a partner with low self-esteem, while someone who is self-liking will look for a partner who also likes who they are. To elaborate on the second finding, there was no correlation between each individual partner’s personalities, but there was a correlation between a person’s ideal self-concept, and the perception they had of their partner. So if you aspire to be organized, you may believe that your partner is more organized than he or she really is.

Opposites Attract

Klohnen, E. C. & Mendelsohn, G. A. (1998). Partner Selection for Personality Characteristics: A Couple-Centered Approach. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24(3), 268-278.


Entry filed under: Dating, Personality, Relationships.

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22 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Def Agree  |  August 25, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    definitely agree. you need confidence to get the most chased after guys/girls. there’s no way they’d date someone who just sits around moping.

    been reading your blog for a while, and this is the first time I actually agree with your theories. keep it up!

  • 2. tastyresearch  |  August 25, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    Def Agree – that just means this is the first time you’ve been right.

  • 3. cfabbro  |  August 25, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    E-Harmony is going to try and bury that study ;)

  • 4. red jello  |  August 26, 2007 at 8:41 am

    Of course opposites attract! That’s why the divorce rate is so high!

  • 5. Just a Woman  |  August 26, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    Dont you think it is a question about freoner?


  • 6. Graham  |  September 11, 2007 at 9:50 am

    I do agree with what is said hear. My life is an example of it opposites attract and it has caused me hellish amounts of problems, however that only comes down to my base attraction if i go for personallity over lust I end up with someone who has quite high self esteem with a lot of conifdence, with an extrovert nature. I think if you follow lust you will find your opposite and find them amazing to look at but will cause you strife. If you find your love and not look for it you will probably end up with your ideal partner, who is similar but disimilar enough for things not to go stale.

  • 7. Ashley  |  November 7, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    I think that a lot of people have something in common and its the little things that couples have in common that help the relationship. If they are opposite it doesn’t mean they have everything opposite of their partners interest. It just depends what a person likes or sees in someone else, everyone is different on their expectations.

  • 8. jason  |  November 7, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    i do think that opposites can get together. Not alot of people just judges people by how they look. They get to know them and then really find out how they are and see what type of person they actually are.

  • 9. jason  |  November 8, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    i do think that opposites can attract. You shouldn’t judge someone by there looks , but i know alot of people do these days. Get to now someone and just have a basic talk and get to know what there like. Alot of people will probably surprise of what they do or how they are by how they look in person.

  • 10. Sammie  |  November 12, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    I think that in a way opposites do attract. For example my sister in law is really quiet and my brother is really loud, but yet they get along great and are happily married. Its the little things that they have in common that matter. Such as they both grew up in the country, both come from a big family, and both are sports orientated. You also just can’t judge a book by its cover… you have to get to know people and go from there,

  • 11. amanda  |  November 12, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    I think opposites attract. Consider an only children. When someone is an only child they most likely get their way all of the time. If someone gets married to another child they are going to probably going to cause some problems. but whos to say everyone is different and in some cases the couple might both be the baby of the birth order or the older responsible one.

  • 12. torchwolf  |  January 31, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    There is plenty of evidence that couples show a high-degree of correlation of many surprising variables. Even things like finger length.

    At the same time, there’s also evidence that in other areas people are attracted to those that have different and complementary traits, for example in immune systems.

    As usual when applying science to human beings, simplistic questions lead to wrong answers!

    Now if you want an unscientific dating compatibility tip, I’d say look for lots of shared values, some shared interests, and some complementary strengths.

    Though of course your unconscious will anyway probably direct you towards someone whose immune system smells nice to you and who looks a bit like someone you loved as a child.

  • 13. Rebecca Aguilar  |  March 7, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    Yes. Too many things to consider here. Opposites attract or individuals seeking others who share things in common… these generalizations don’t cover everything we have learned about human sexuality, including pheremones or culture.

  • 14. heather  |  January 28, 2009 at 10:18 am

    I think opposites can and do attract.. but nor am i saying that people who are alike dont attract, i think it depends on who the individual is and what their personal likes and dislikes include.. and like Ashley said, if the two people are opposites, this doesn’t necessarily mean that everything about and between them is opposite.

  • 15. Amanda Davenport  |  April 21, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    i always feel like if there is a big discrepency in attractiveness in a couple, there is probably something else weird going on….like one of them is way smarter or richer.

    cool blog! check mine out at

  • 16. Pozycjonowanie  |  June 2, 2009 at 7:55 am

    Obviously neither of those statements is true. Everyone’s looking for different things in their partners and there’s no rule for that.

  • 17. leaatendido  |  December 2, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Its not important if have are similarities or differences its a the way you get along and your compatible with each other.

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  • 18. Evan Nassau  |  November 18, 2010 at 12:46 am

    I have recently written an article about whether opposites attract, and if so, how does this relate to the fact that people also are attracted to those who are like themselves? ->

  • 19. arsavin666  |  June 20, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    pretty interesting article published & add to the knowledge

  • 20. essaycapital  |  May 5, 2012 at 2:13 am

    very interesting story! really thank you…

  • 21. Mary Madsen  |  August 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    As far as marriage goes, I wonder if you’re more likely to be happy by marring your opposite or someone very similar to you? I can think of pros and cons to both.

  • 22. NISM  |  September 15, 2012 at 1:53 am

    Nice pic……….. I think similar type of partner is better than opposite type of partner. ……..


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