People tend to look for the same personality type in a partner over-and-over again, new research concludes.
One of the main things people look for is a similar personality to themselves.
So, extraverts prefer other extraverts, agreeable people prefer other agreeable people, and so on.
However, it is more than that, the researchers found.
There is also a lot of similarity between a person’s ex-partners.
One of the advantages of having similar partners is learning how to deal with a particular personality type.
Ms Yoobin Park, the study’s first author, said:
“In every relationship, people learn strategies for working with their partner’s personality.
If your new partner’s personality resembles your ex-partner’s personality, transferring the skills you learned might be an effective way to start a new relationship on a good footing.”
The conclusions come from a study of 332 people.
Researchers compared the personalities of their current partners with those of their past partners.
They were asked how much they agreed with statements like:
- “I am usually modest and reserved.”
- “I am interested in many different kinds of things.”
- “I make plans and carry them out.”
The results showed that people tend to have a ‘type’, said Ms Park:
“It’s common that when a relationship ends, people attribute the breakup to their ex-partner’s personality and decide they need to date a different type of person.
Our research suggests there’s a strong tendency to nevertheless continue to date a similar personality.
The effect is more than just a tendency to date someone similar to yourself.
The degree of consistency from one relationship to the next suggests that people may indeed have a ‘type’.
And though our data do not make clear why people’s partners exhibit similar personalities, it is noteworthy that we found partner similarity above and beyond similarity to oneself.”
In some circumstances, though, sticking to the same personality type all the time can be damaging, said Ms Park:
“So, if you find you’re having the same issues in relationship after relationship, you may want to think about how gravitating toward the same personality traits in a partner is contributing to the consistency in your problems.”
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, 2003) 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 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Park & MacDonald, 2019).