Why people choose the mates they do can be a topic of endless discussion. Three of the best-known explanations are (i) that opposites attract; (ii) that we look for someone just like ourselves; and (iii) that there are cross-cultural attributes that everyone would like to have in their partners (but that only a lucky few do).

In an article in the current issue of Science, Zentner has developed an inventory to measure the personality characteristics of one's ideal mate and applied it to college students in conjunction with an established questionnaire for reporting one's own personality facets. He finds that there is roughly the same variability across individuals in the two measures, arguing against the existence of a universally desired set of attributes. Furthermore, in a longitudinal sampling, the similarity of one's actual mate and one's idealized choice along the dimensions of agreeableness and openness was important and predictive of satisfaction with the relationship. -- Gilbert J. Chin

J. Pers. Soc. Psych. 89, 242 (2005).

Why did you choose the person with whom you share your life?