Is it true that opposites attract?

Researchers say seeking like-minded people seems to be the norm when it comes to friendships and relations, contrary to the popular belief that opposites attract. 

Researchers at Wellesley College and University of Kansas say the finding is a warning to couples who think their partner could change over time. 

Surprise finding

A surprise finding is that people really don't change. It just seems that way. When we form a relationship there are already similarities between friends and couples that most people fail to notice. 

Assistant Professor of psychology Angela Bahns said in a media release:

"Picture two strangers striking up a conversation on a plane, or a couple on a blind date. From the very first moments of awkward banter, how similar the two people are is immediately and powerfully playing a role in future interactions. Will they connect? Or walk away? Those early recognitions of similarity are really consequential in that decision."

Professor of psychology Chris Crandall who is one of the study's authors said most of the time we are attracted to people who make us feel comfortable and who cooperate to help us meet our goals. The drive to form relationships with like-minded people may be stronger than was previously known. 

The study

For their study the researchers looked at people interacting in social settings. They interviewed the study participants about their beliefs and behaviors and personality traits and whether they had know each other for very long. 

They wanted to see if pairs who were closer and had known each other longer were similar in personality that people who had not known each other for very long.

They discovered people were not that much different whether they had just met or known each other for a long period of time. 

The study suggest like minded people seem to find each other even before they form a bond. 

Professor Wendy Berry Mendes who is the Charlo/Ekman Chair in the study of Human Emotion at the University of California-San Francisco said the study is compelling in showing that people do not influence each other over time. Rather, we form relationships with those who are already like us. 

Hanging out with the same people isn't always good

The researchers also identified a down side for bonding with like-minded people. Crandall says there is value in forming friendships with people who are not really like you. If we only bond with people we're comfortable with we may never learn new ideas or be reigned in when we're acting "loony". The study is the largest to date that defines how new friendships are formed. It turns out opposites do not attract, contrary to a long held notion suggesting otherwise.