Study: In relationships, people do have a type

A new study from social psychologists at the University of Toronto has found that when it comes to relationships, people do have a “type.” The research supports the theory that people tend to look for love with the same type of person over and over again.

Lead author Yoobin Park, a PhD student in the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of the Arts & Sciences at the University of Toronto, said that the research suggests that people will continue to date a similar personality despite failed relationships in the past.

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The researchers’ conclusion comes from the data of a multi-year study involving couples and families across multiple age groups. The personalities of current and past partners were compared, and the research showed a significant consistency in the personalities of romantic partners.

The participants in the study, along with a sample of their current and past partners, assessed their own personality traits related to conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, extraversion and openness to experience.

Participants were asked how much they identified with different statements, such as “I make plans and carry them out,” or “I am usually modest and reserved.” They were asked to gauge their agreement or disagreement with the statements using a five-point scale.

The researchers are hoping that their findings may offer a way keep couples and relationships happy.

The study may also hold potential for online dating. Although previous research has struggled to predict romantic desire based on preferences and personality traits, the results of the new study suggest that dating apps could use relationship histories to help users find future partners.

One thing we don’t know about the study is how long the relationships lasted for. Previous data shows that too much similarity in relationships can make people feel unable to grow and develop. Married people also have a lower tolerance for behaviors their new and former spouses share, such as infidelity, sexual dysfunction and inability to compromise. Such similarities can lead to feelings of hopelessness and anxiety.

With that said, the tendency to gravitate toward the same personality can make it easier to bond and form positive patterns of interaction in relationships. This suggests that having “a type” may not necessarily lead to a higher rate of divorce.

Research such as this isn’t the be all and end all when it comes to long-term relationships. There are so many factors that influence attraction and our preferences for romantic partners.


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