An old dating cliche may state “people are like magnets-opposites attract,” but a team of scientists has found that this may not be the case as people are attracted to others, who have the same views and values as themselves.
Co-authored by researchers at Wellesley College and the University of Kansas, the study could lead to a fundamental change in understanding relationship formation and it sounds a warning for the idea that couples can change each other over time.
In what might be considered a paradigm shift, the study’s most surprising finding may be that people in relationships do not change each other over time. Instead, lead authors Angela Bahns and Chris Crandall’s evidence places new emphasis on the earliest moments of a relationship, revealing that future friends or partners are already similar at the outset of their social connection.
Bahns said that these findings could be seen as a cautionary message for the people, who believe they can persuade their friends or romantic partners to come around to their way of thinking, adding that change is difficult and unlikely; it’s easier to select people who are compatible with your needs and goals from the beginning.
The researchers noted the drive toward similarity can lead to benefits such as stability of identity, value systems, and ideology, but that limited exposure to different ideas and beliefs can be a major drawback.
The study is published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.