People are more likely to marry those with a similar level of intelligence to themselves, research finds.
It shows that when looking for a partner, people generally want someone similar to themselves.
Intelligence, like many other traits, is partly controlled by our genetic makeup.
So, effectively, people tend to pick others who have similar genetic traits.
The study’s authors write:
“Humans generally do not choose their mates randomly.
In search for a suitable mate, among the highest-ranking qualities people look for in a potential partner are intelligence and educational attainment.”
And when you look at any random couple, there is a surprisingly high correlation between the two different people’s intelligence and their education.
The conclusions come from a UK DNA study of 1,600 married or cohabiting couples.
Dr David Hugh-Jones, the study’s first author, said:
“Our findings show strong evidence for the presence of genetic assortative mating for education in the UK.
The consequences of assortative mating on education and cognitive abilities are relevant for society, and for the genetic make-up and therefore the evolutionary development of subsequent generations.”
Dr Hugh-Jones pointed out that over time the forces of evolution can increase social inequality:
“Assortative mating on inheritable traits that are indicative of socio-economic status, such as educational achievement, increases the genetic variance of characteristics in the population.
This may increase social inequality, for example with respect to education or income.
When growing social inequality is, partly, driven by a growing biological inequality, inequalities in society may be harder to overcome and the effects of assortative mating may accumulate with each generation.”
In other words, if intelligent people continue to marry other intelligent people, then the genes for intelligence continue to be concentrated in a small group.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Intelligence (Hugh-Jones et al., 2016).