Does Similar Mean Compatible?

We’re often asked: “Do you just pair people up on pure similarity?” You may wonder if the algorithm just matches you to someone that answered all questions similarly to you, or if they are really your most compatible match. 

The simple answer would be, yes — it is well acknowledged in social psychology that people tend to be attracted to those who share similar values, personality traits and attractiveness levels.

But things aren’t as simple as they may appear at first glance:

Similarity in values matters more than similarity in personality traits

We score all of our questions in terms of their importance and questions that ask about values are generally scored higher than those about personality traits.

Findings of a meta-analysis of 240 laboratory studies suggest that similarity in values are more predictive of attraction than similarity in personality traits. This is because we are better able to evaluate others when they are described by their values rather than personality traits. A positive cognitive evaluation of another person leads to greater attraction.

Perceived similarity matters more than actual similarity

We spend hours thinking about how to introduce matches to you.

Thankfully, those hours aren’t going to waste. Another meta-analysis finds that people believing that they are similar to their partner, regardless of whether they are actually similar to them or not, is a better predictor of attraction than their actual similarity. 

Sometimes, differences serve a benefit as well…

Even the most perfect matches do not have 100% similarity. 

And sometimes, we match on the basis of differences too. Consider the question: “I generally like to take control during sex”. It probably wouldn't make more sense if we didn’t match on the basis of similarity for this one.

Science has our back on this one as well. Some differences are tolerated in relationships. Some can be rather beneficial as few studies find evidence favoring differences in compatibility. One possibility for this phenomenon is the self-expansion theory, which explains the intrinsic motivation people have to enhance themselves when developing relationships with others. As opposed to building relationships with those that are 100% similar to us only to validate our own understanding of the world, some differences become a gateway for self-enhancement. 

Relationship Science is a field with many nuances. As the Relationship Psychology team at Marriage Pact, it is our responsibility to unpack all these nuances and inform the algorithm in the most predictive way possible.