Do opposites attract? But is it really true, scientists say!

The proverb about the mutual attraction of completely different – often opposite – people exists in many languages. Contrary to popular belief, opposites do not attract, say scientists at the University of Colorado. Or, to be more precise, they attract anything but opposites. A comprehensive study, published in the journal Nature, convincingly shows that in the majority of couples, both partners not only share common characteristics (such as similar political views or the same level of education), but the overwhelming majority of these characteristics.

Racial affiliation – another characteristic from a long list of traits on which spouses were judged. Separately, the authors note the correlation (i.e., similarity in changes over time) in the frequency and amount of alcohol consumption. The authors of the study specify that the term “partners” refers to couples (including unmarried couples) as well as couples raising children together.

At the same time, homosexual unions were excluded from the general statistics. As the authors of the article explain, relationships in same-sex couples are often constructed differently from those in heterosexual couples, so these families deserve to be studied separately. The results of the study, which combined data from nearly 100,000 couples, showed that family partners shared at least 82% of all characteristics. We explain quickly, simply, and clearly what happened, why it matters, and what happens next. The translation of “эпизоды” from Russian to English is “episodes”.

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The number of characteristics on which partners could converge or diverge was about one and a half hundred, covering a wide range – from political views and levels of religiosity to drug use and age at first sexual activity. In particular, the researchers looked at who in the couple was an introvert and who was an extravert, and whether extraverts really tend to converge with introverts (as the adage about converging opposites would logically suggest). Whether spouses smoke or not, how much their IQs differ, whether they suffer from diabetes, are prone to depression, use drugs (and if so, which ones) – this is just a small part of a long list of characteristics on which family couples were evaluated.

But no matter which couple you use as an example, the spouses had far fewer differences than the common traits that united them. Specifically, 82% to 89% of all partner characteristics examined were similar, and only 3% were significantly different. The political and religious views of the spouses, their level of education, and their approximate level of IQ coincided in the vast majority of families. Hardcore smokers, alcoholics, and principled teetotalers usually formed partnerships with people who shared their habits. But when it came to growth, weight, health problems, and psychological traits, couples were more likely to differ. For example, extroverts were no more likely than introverts to partner with other extroverts.

One of the study’s authors, Tanya Horvitz of the University of Colorado, joked, “It seems that birds really do congregate by color.” The English proverb “Birds of a feather flock together” (птицы собираются по окрасу) is an idiom whose translation always depends heavily on the context. In the case of couples, a correct translation into English would be something like “two peas in a pod” or “birds of a feather”.

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