For the Global Thinker

Monday, December 13, 2010

Similar traits don't always lead to a happy marriage

On the first day of class every semester, Portia Dyrenforth asks the students taking her psychology course whether they think couples with similar personalities are more likely to be happy together.

Inevitably, she says, they nod.

Then she asks whether they know any couples who are very different from each other but still seem quite content in their relationships.

They nod at this one, too.

Dyrenforth, working with three other psychologists, examined the data with a few questions in mind: Do personality traits influence a person's own happiness in general and in the context of a relationship? Can a spouse's personality affect the happiness of his or her partner? And does having similar personalities affect the couple's relationship satisfaction?

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