Love. A beautiful thing is it not? The french call it l’amour; has a nice ring to it. Some people say that true love happens only once a lifetime. Well, the ‘dilfek ashiqs’ on the streets of Delhi beg to differ. But all this makes me think, why do people fall in love? What is it that attracts one person to another? Two common proverbs come to my mind; “birds of a feather flock together” and “opposites attract“. Each seems to provide some insight to our problem. But which one should we follow? Do opposites really attract or do birds of a feather flock together.
Psychological research has provided us with a wealth of knowledge on the issue. According to a classic study of a sample of married couples(Winch,1958). Each couple appeared to have complementary needs which were fulfilled by their partners. This led to the development of the need-complementarity hypothesis. This states that two individuals form a couple when their complementary needs are fulfilled.
However since the aforementioned study, there has been little evidence to support “opposites attract”.
To the contrary, an increasing number of studies seem to support that ‘similarity breeds attraction’.(Meyer and Pepper,1977). Results from psychological research have demonstrated that “birds of a feather flock together”. It has been found that people are attracted to others who hold similar attitudes, values and even personality traits.(Byrne 1969, Hill and Stull, 1981)
There are many reasons why similarity results in greater attraction. For one thing, the discovery that people hold similar attitudes can be directly rewarding to us, suggesting that the views we hold about the world are correct. It is also highly likely that we will get along with that person by engaging in activities that are satisfying to both of us.
Finally knowing another person is like us causes a psychological phenomenon called reciprocity of liking. This is a tendency to like those who we think like us.
Looks like birds of a feather really do flock together.