The Matching Hypothesis Strikes Again

What happens when people “marry outside their looks” (that is, when you marry someone who is obviously much more attractive than you are)? There’s an interesting and humorous article on page 86 of the May 7, 2007 issue of Time magazine that discusses just this. The title is “The Last Taboo”. Or, as the author puts it, “Marrying a few degrees up or down the hotness scale.” Recall that part of episode 4 (“On Birds Flocking and Opposites Attracting”) is about what psychologists often refer to as the matching hypothesis – the observation that we all seem to have a sense of how attractive we are and how attractive other people are and we tend to marry people who we deem to be at about our same “level”.

Here are a couple other examples of seeming mismatches:

  • They’re now divorced but Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett

  • Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt

  • Dennis Kucinich and his wife Elizabeth Jane (Harper) Kucinich

  • Episode 4 discusses the matching hypothesis in more detail.
  • Episode #4: On Birds Flocking and Opposites Attracting: the data on Love


    Do Birds of a Feather Flock Together or do Opposites Attract? That’s the question we examine this week on the first video episode of The Psych Files.

    One of my favorite topics (I suppose many people’s favorite topics) has to do with how romantic relationships begin and why some relationships flourish while others don’t. I had one of my classes conduct a survey on the topic. This video has 3 parts: 1) background info on 3 attraction theories, 2) a quick overview of the survey my class and I created, and 3) a look at the results. I hope you find this video informative.

    Resources on Attraction

    • One of the persistent challenges for psychology students who are studying research and statistics is keeping it interesting. High School and college students are interested in why people are attracted to one another and why relationships last (and don’t last), so why not create a survey on this topic?
    • The theories of attraction I discuss in this video are:
      • Proximity (sometimes called Propinquity): you tend to form relationships with people you have frequent contact with
      • Attitude Similarity: this is the birds of a feather idea – you tend to like people who are similar to you in important ways
      • [adsenseyu2]

      • Matching Hypothesis: you look for a romantic partner who you believe is about as attractive as you think you are
      • Equity: we like fairness in just about all things, including our relationships, so you will be more satisfied to the extent that you believe that you and your partner give about equally to the relationship

    • Feel free to download and use the Attraction Survey if you’d like. Click here to down a Microsoft Word version of the survey.
    • Click here to download a Microsoft Excel file containing the data.
    • Click here to download a csv file containing the data.

    Data for Research Methods and Statistics in Psychology and Social Work
    Michael Britt

    Data for Research Methods and Statistics in Psychology and Social Work


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    1. 1  PROV


      Here is a general handout that can be used for the activity. Feel free to change it to fit your needs. If you know of other videos that could be added to this website, please contact Burt...

    2. 2  General Social Survey

      General Social Survey

      The GSS contains a standard 'core' of demographic, behavioral, and attitudinal questions, plus topics of special interest. Many of the core questions have remained unchanged since 1972 to facilitate time-trend studies as well as replication of earlier findings. The GSS takes the pulse of America, and is a unique and valuable resource.

    3. 3  Dataset Generator

      Dataset Generator

      Assistant Professor in Industrial/Organizational Psychology Richard N. Landers, Ph.D. Primary Investigator of TNTLab Old Dominion University Dataset Generator for A Step by Step Introduction to Statistics for Business Inspired partly by my success at explaining How to Compute ICCs in SPSS on my blog, and partly because I think significance testing is usually not well-understood by most students in statistics courses, I wrote a statistics textbook entitled A Step-by-Step Introduction to Statistics for Business , published by SAGE.

    4. 4  Attraction Survey and Data

      Attraction Survey and Data

      I provide a brief survey on various theories of attraction. The data my class collected is also available for download for your own analysis.

    5. 5  Journal of Statistics Education - Data Archive

      Journal of Statistics Education - Data Archive

      An International Journal on the Teaching and Learning of Statistics 4cdata.txt (the basic data file) 4c1data.txt (includes indicator or "dummy" variables) 4c.txt (the documentation file) NAME: Pricing the C's of Diamond Stones TYPE: Observational Regression Analysis Data SIZE: 308 observations, 5 variables The article associated with this dataset appears in the Journal of Statistics Education, Volume 9, Number 2 (July 2001).

    6. 6  Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

      Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

      The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) maintains the world's largest archive of digital social science data. More than 7,000 data collections are part of the archive, with up to 500 new collections added every year. ICPSR provides leadership and training in data access, curation, and methods of analysis for the social science research community.

    7. 7  Companion Website - Data Files

      Companion Website - Data Files

      The link below will open a zip file containing a huge number of data files to. Simply save the file to your hard-drive and unzip to access.

    8. 8  OPL - Data download

      OPL - Data download

      My personal favorite. If you're looking for data you have to check this site out.

    9. 9  Publicly Available Databases for Aging-Related Secondary Analyses in the Behavioral and Social Sciences

      Publicly Available Databases for Aging-Related Secondary Analyses in the Behavioral and Social Sciences

      The databases included in this document have been supported entirely or in part by the National Institute on Aging Updated September, 2013 This document provides snapshots of selected publicly available data collections supported in whole or in part by the National Institute on Aging Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR) to promote understanding of aging populations both domestically and throughout the world.

    10. 10  Links to Data Sets

      Links to Data Sets

      A wealth of shared data are available for use in psychological science research. These data span a wide variety of topics. Below are examples of electronically available behavioral and social science data. Census Data is an introductory link to the many tables that are available.