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Psyche: When do opposites really attract?


Study examines the impact of relationship status on partner selection
There have been discussions about whether to dress in a relationship for a long time. Do people in a relationship judge differently which characteristics and which appearance are attractive or attractive to them? Researchers have now found that our relationship status affects whether we find other people attractive or not. For example, people in a relationship prefer a partner who is like them. Singles are more of the opinion that opposites attract.

When people are looking for a partner, they don't just choose them based on their existing properties and good looks. It is also very important that the characteristics of both partners complement each other. Scientists from Charles University in the Czech Republic have now discovered in an investigation that people in a relationship prefer a partner who is similar in many ways. Singles, on the other hand, prefer partners who are not similar to them. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Frontiers in Psychology".

People in relationships prefer similar partners
In a recent study, researchers found that people in a relationship are basically looking for a partner who is similar to them. The partner should be in line with our wishes, thoughts and attitudes in order to understand us better and to share common interests with us. In a relationship, people find faces that resemble their own faces more attractive, the authors explain.

Singles are looking for partners who differ from them
The situation is different for people without a steady partner. In singles, it is not a similar face that looks attractive, but exactly the opposite. Singles prefer an appearance and characteristics with their partners that differ from their own, explains the lead author Dr. Jitka Lindova from Charles University in the Czech Republic.

Study checks the assessment of attractiveness in one hundred subjects
During their examinations, the doctors showed a series of photographs of faces to one hundred students. The subjects were then asked to rate these images for their attractiveness, the scientists explain. Before viewing the pictures, the participants were asked whether they were in a relationship, the experts add. When assessing the attractiveness, the subjects had to choose whether they found certain faces more attractive for a long-term relationship or for a short-term romance. When participants weren't in a relationship, they rated dissimilar faces as attractive and sexy. The effect was observed in both same-sex and opposite-sex faces.

New results clearly show that a relationship influences what we find attractive
For the first time, we have seen that the status of our feelings affects what we find attractive to people, said Dr. Lindova. Earlier studies had shown that we find faces of strangers attractive if they resemble our own faces. However, very little was known about whether our relationship status affects this process, the doctor adds.

Couples pay less attention to the attractiveness of other people
One reason why people in a relationship might develop a preference for similar people is that this strategy should prevent us from looking for other partners. Couples just seem to have less attention to other people's sexual attractiveness, doctors say. We tend to find shortcomings in other objectively attractive people immediately, so as to avoid a possible temptation, the researchers explain.

Our brain tries to help people live in a relationship
Singles may prefer partners who are not similar because they are looking for a new partner especially for biodiversity and for genetically suitable producers for offspring, the scientists explain. Partners who do not resemble us are usually genetically more suitable for reproduction. When people are dissatisfied with their relationship, they start to find non-resembling people more attractive again. So monogamy doesn't really seem to be an integral part of our lives, but our brains are trying their best to help people stay in their relationships, the authors add. (as)

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