Why Opposites Rarely Attract by V. Swami
(Link): Why Opposites Rarely Attract by V. Swami
But it’s not just Disney: the idea that opposites attract has completely saturated the film industry – think of the neurotic comedian who falls for the free-spirited singer in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, for example. In fact, (Link): one study found that almost 80% of us believe in the idea that opposites attract.
But a (Link): new study tracking people’s digital footprints – how they behave online – suggests this isn’t actually true in real life. And it isn’t the first time science has come to that conclusion. For decades, psychologists and sociologists have pointed out that the idea that opposites attract is a (Link): myth.
In fact, almost all the evidence suggests that opposites very rarely attract. The psychologist Donn Byrne was one of the first to study the impact of similarity on the early stages of relationships. To do so, he developed a method known as the (Link): “phantom stranger technique”.
….To explain his findings, Byrne argued that most of us have a need for a logical and consistent view of the world. We tend to favour ideas and beliefs that support and reinforce that consistency. People who agree with us validate our attitudes and so satisfy this need, whereas people who disagree with us tend to stimulate negative feelings – anxiety, confusion and maybe even anger – that lead to repulsion.
….Complementary versus similar personalities
In the mid-1950s, the sociologist Robert Francis Winch argued that, when it comes to our personalities, what matters is not similarity but (Link): complementarity. Based on his studies of spouses, he suggested that individuals would be attracted to others who possess personality traits that they lack. An assertive woman, for example, would be attracted to a submissive man while an extroverted man would be attracted to an introverted woman.
As it turns out, there is almost no evidence to support this hypothesis. (Link): Studies of friends and spouses consistently find that two individuals are more likely to be friends and spouses if they are similar in terms of their personalities.
This includes the (Link): new study which looked at digital footprints of more than 45,000 individuals, rather than self-reported data about personality. The results of this study showed that people with similar personalities, based on likes and word choices in posts, were more likely to be friends. The association was even stronger between romantic partners.
…So, if you’re single and looking, the advice from decades of scientific research is simple: stop believing that the right match for you is someone who has the opposite qualities to you. Opposites almost never attract and you’re much better off focusing on people who have similar qualities and attitudes to yourself, but who offer some potential for self-expansion.