Do Opposites Truly Attract?

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Categories: Dating and Relationships

Which proverb do you believe? Opposites attract or birds of a feather flock together? According to the 2009 book, 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology, men and women are more likely to flock to someone with a similar personality than to someone totally different.

Opposites Don't Attract

Citing dozens of studies, the book’s authors report that men and women with similar personalities are more likely to be attracted to one another than to people with opposite personalities. They are also more likely to have happy, stable marriages. Not only that, but research suggests that opposites actually repel. 

According to the authors, “statistical analysis shows proportionally more similarity in attitudes leads to proportionally more liking. So we're about twice as likely to be attracted to someone with whom we agree on 6 of 10 issues as someone with whom we agree on 3 of 10 issues. What's more, people with dissimilar attitudes may be especially unlikely to be attracted to each other.”

But People Think They Do

Despite an overwhelming amount of research supporting the “birds of a feather” theory, many people believe that opposites are more likely to attract. In fact, a 1991 study found that 77% of respondents agreed that opposites attract one another. Why the prevalent belief in this myth? Authors say it’s due in part to the large number of Hollywood movies featuring two vastly different people meeting and falling in love. Apparently, the movies You’ve Got Mail or When Harry Met Sally aren’t very realistic.

Or this music video by Paula Abdul (in more ways than one)


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