Spouses do not grow more alike, study finds

Aug 25, 2010

Contrary to popular belief, married couples do not become more similar over time, according to a team of researchers led by Michigan State University.

Instead, people tend to pick their spouse based on shared , the researchers report in the latest issue of the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

"Existing research shows that spouses are more similar than random people," said Mikhila Humbad, lead investigator. "This could reflect spouses' influence on each other over time, or this could be what attracted them to each other in the first place. Our goal in conducting this study was to help resolve this debate."

The researchers analyzed the data of 1,296 , one of the largest such studies to date, said Humbad, MSU doctoral candidate in clinical psychology. The data came from the Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research.

The researchers wanted to know if husbands and wives become more similar as the marriage progressed. They examined a host of personality characteristics and found that, in most cases, the couples did not become more alike with more years of .

The conclusion: Spousal similarity is better explained by selection than gradual convergence.

The one exception to this pattern was . "It makes sense if you think about it," Humbad said. "If one person is violent, the other person may respond in a similar fashion and thus become more aggressive over time."

The research could have implications for future spouses as well as their . "Marrying someone who's similar to you may increase the likelihood that you'll pass those traits on to your children," Humbad said.

The findings also come amid the backdrop of a booming matchmaking industry in which companies attempt to match people based on similar characteristics, she noted.

Explore further: Gender disparities in cognition will not diminish

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Why some couples look alike

Feb 11, 2006

Facial characteristics can be indicative of personality traits and may be why some couples may look similar, says a University of Liverpool study.

Couples who say 'we' do better at resolving conflicts

Jan 28, 2010

People often complain about those seemingly smug married couples who constantly refer to themselves as "we." But a new study from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that spouses who use "we-ness" language are ...

Study examines working couple's retirement patterns

Nov 18, 2008

When retiring, men are more likely than women to move directly from work to retirement, but overall the retirement patterns for dual-income married couples are complex and call for additional considerations in planning for ...

Recommended for you

Could summer camp be the key to world peace?

9 hours ago

According to findings from a new study by University of Chicago Booth School of Business Professor Jane Risen, and Chicago Booth doctoral student Juliana Schroeder, it may at least be a start.

Gender disparities in cognition will not diminish

Jul 28, 2014

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, investigated the extent to which improvements in living conditions and educational opportunities over a person's life affect cognitive abilities and th ...

Facial features are the key to first impressions

Jul 28, 2014

A new study by researchers in the Department of Psychology at the University of York shows that it is possible to accurately predict first impressions using measurements of physical features in everyday images of faces, such ...

User comments : 0