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Psychology of Social Connection

Does Prince Charming really exist? Will you find your Cinderella?

March 27th, 2023 · 8 Comments

Does Prince Charming really exist? Will you find your Cinderella?

One adolescent day you may find yourself wondering about what your future will look like and with whom…will you be married? Have kids? Will you be single? Or what about this…have you looked up your zodiac sign to see your and your partner’s compatibility? Are you currently in a romantic relationship and looking for ways to strengthen your bond? Perhaps looking for evidence on what makes romantic relationships last long-term?

 

There are so many questions and uncertainties that may leave someone stressed and lost…so that is why we’re going to help explain what research says about finding your perfect match!

(Karley)

What is your zodiac sign? I’m a Libra…oh you’re a Gemini.. that explains it…

Have you ever heard that before? If not, the term Gemini and Libra refer to an individual’s zodiac sign which comes from astrology (Helgertz & Scott., 2020) (if you want more information google it because i’m not telling you about the history of the zodiac signs). But briefly, the idea of astrology has been around since before the birth of Christ and suggests that the positioning of celestial objects at a certain time play a significant role in the individual’s life in terms of their personality, motivation, wants and needs (Helgertz & Scott.,2020). Specifically, western astrology focuses on the horoscopic nature suggesting that predictions can be made based on the positioning of the planets and this stars typically at birth (Helgertz & Scott.,2020). As you may know many people are very into astrology and zodiac signs and thus rely on them religiously to dictate their future… Back in elementary school my friends and I would go on a website to see how compatible we were with our crushes …wouldn’t this be awesome if we could just go around asking people what their horoscope is and then depending on their answer it would potentially be a perfect match!! …sadly that is not the case ??

There has been some research on the idea that one’s horoscope can make someone more or less compatible with another with the earliest study dating 1970. This study by Bernie Silverman looked to test the validity of astrological predictions by comparing marital compatibility of couples who were matched by zodiac signs to couples who were matched randomly (Silverman., 1970). He had 2,978 couples who were married in Michigan between 1967 and 1968 and the astrological signs were obtained from their marriage certificates (Silverman., 1970). Their compatibility was assessed using a questionnaire that measured several aspects of their relationship such as their communication skills, conflict resolution skills and sexual satisfaction (Silverman., 1970). The results showed no significant difference in marital compatibility between couples who were matched by astrological signs versus couples matched randomly (Silverman., 1970). 

One more recent study that seems to be a landmark study… (but I cannot find it anywhere but is mentioned everywhere). The study had 20 million husbands and wives in England and Wales and Dr.David Voas from the University of Manchester analyzed these relationships and found no evidence that shows attraction due to zodiac signs (University of Manchester., 2007). He got his information from the 2001 census and says the following “When you have a population of ten million couples, then even if only one pair in a thousand is influenced by the stars, you’d have ten thousand more couples than expected with certain combinations of signs, there’s no such evidence, though: the numbers are just what we’d predict on the basis of chance.”(University of Manchester., 2007). So it does seem pretty promising that zodiac signs are unreliable.

It is worth mentioning that these studies are strictly correlational and it would be very unethical to test this experimentally…but with all that being said, is there something that we can look for in our partner to make sure we are compatible?? 

Should you look for someone similar to you? Or different from you?… Do opposites attract? 

A few researchers’ looked at this experimentally and investigated the importance of four factors in determining romantic attraction; similarity, reciprocity, security, and physical attractiveness (Luo & Zhang., 2009). This was investigated using a speed-dating paradigm in which participants had several short conversations with individuals and then rated their attraction (Luo & Zhang., 2009). After three speed dating events participants were given surveys to assess their partners, and after that the researchers analyzed them (Luo & Zhang., 2009). Researchers found that  similarity and reciprocity were the most influential factors in predicting romantic attraction (Luo & Zhang., 2009). Moreover they found participants were more likely to be attracted to those who shared their same interests, values, and attitudes (Luo & Zhang., 2009). All in all, the study suggests that similarity and reciprocity are more important than attractiveness and security when predicting attraction… So does that mean we have to go look for our “personality twin” for the perfect partner?? Not quite… one systematic review looked at 313 studies that looked at actual partners in relationships and found that similarity in attitudes is what made people more attracted to each other (Montoya, Horton, & Kirchner., 2008). Moreover, they also mention that  someone may have preferences for someone because they see things in them that they lack (Montoya, Horton, & Kirchner., 2008)… So it seems as though we are attracted to those who are more similar to us and those who compliment us ???

So… once we find someone who is similar, what makes the relationship last? 

 

(Sophia)

The beginning of a romantic relationship is always an exciting time. There is this novel sense of excitement, joy, and love that draws you into the person and makes it seem as though everything is right in the world. As time goes on, however, the flames die down and reality starts to make itself known again. Romantic relationships require continuous nurturing and attention, specifically regarding three vital components: “intimacy, passion, and commitment” (Kansky, 2018, p. 2). The strength of each of these components defines how a relationship may be classified by different kinds of love, which include “romantic, companionate, empty, infatuation, and consummate” (Kansky, 2018, p. 2). How these components grow and interact with each other is vital for relationship development and satisfaction. Attachment styles also play a crucial role in the success of romantic relationships, as the parental figure one forms their attachment style with will eventually get transferred to how they interact with their partner. In fact, attachment styles are so crucial to romantic relationships that it can be a predictor of how successful a relationship can and will be. Secure attachment styles in relationships consist of security and closeness, but when one perceives their partner as unavailable or untrustworthy, insecure attachment styles can form. Another important aspect of successful relationships is sexual satisfaction, which has been found to be a telling sign of how stable the relationship is. Couples that feel sexually satisfied in their relationship also points to how well they communicate with one another and understand one another’s needs (Kansky, 2018).

Ok so, we know the basics of what makes a relationship successful, but how do you maintain it? More importantly, what can prove to be an obstacle in maintaining it? Two words: hedonic adaptation. This term describes the phenomenon of various challenges that become present when attempting to return to baseline after a positive or negative event, such as newlyweds fresh from their wedding who must go on with their daily lives after. Or a partner losing their job and having to manage financial difficulties while looking for a new job. How well partners can manage these adaptations is a major indicator of stability and satisfaction in a relationship. Of importance is ensuring that adapting does not equate to boredom, as studies have shown that it can become toxic in romantic relationships. One way to avoid boredom is to include positive experiences that keep partners engaged in adapting. If the boosts in happiness start to dwindle in relationships, they will quickly adapt and become bored. Eventually, positive events and emotions will not be enough to ward off boredom, so novelty in these experiences is another strengthening factor for maintaining relationships. So instead of doing the same thing on Friday nights, try something different! It may just bring you that much closer. Appreciation of this process is also vital for relationship longevity, and reduces the risk of taking your partner for granted. Along with appreciation comes the delicate balance of expectations. Having high expectations of one’s partner has only been shown to be affiliated with higher quality relationships when the partnership has both reasonable desires and healthy communication skills (Jacobs & Lyubomirsky, 2013). Expectations that are associated with feelings of “entitlement or deservingness” have been shown to be especially harmful to the welfare of romantic relationships (Jacobs & Lyubomirsky, 2013, p. 200)

Clearly, romantic love takes a lot of work, but it can also be a beautiful and fulfilling aspect of life. The characteristics that make up a healthy relationship also allow for personal growth and discovery. So don’t rush trying to find “the one”. Good things come to those who wait. 

 

 

References 

Helgertz, J., & Scott, K. (2020). The validity of astrological predictions on marriage and divorce: A longitudinal analysis of Swedish register data. Genus, 76(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41118-020-00103-5

 

Jacobs Bao, K., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2013). Making it last: Combating hedonic adaptation in romantic relationships. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 8(3), 196–206. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2013.777765

 

Kansky, J. (2018). What’s love got to do with it?: Romantic relationships and well-being. In E. Diener, S. Oishi, & L. Tay (Eds.), Handbook of well-being. Salt Lake City, UT: DEF Publishers. DOI:nobascholar.com

 

Luo, S., & Zhang, G. (2009). What leads to romantic attraction: Similarity, reciprocity, security, or beauty? evidence from a speed-dating study. Journal of Personality, 77(4), 933–964. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6494.2009.00570.x

 

Montoya, R. M., Horton, R. S., & Kirchner, J. (2008). Is actual similarity necessary for attraction? A meta-analysis of actual and perceived similarity. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 25(6), 889–922. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407508096700

 

Silverman, B. I. (1970). Studies of astrology. The Journal of Psychology, 77(2), 141–149. https://doi.org/10.1080/00223980.1971.9916861

 

University of Manchester. (2007, March 26). Love not in the stars. Retrieved March 2023, from https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/love-not-in-the-stars/ 

 

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8 responses so far ↓

  • Elle // Mar 28th 2023 at 1:26 pm

    Really loved this post from Karley and Sophia! As a Pisces I’ve been told that even though I’m a hopeless romantic, I am not the most compatible of partners so Karley’s debunking of the zodiac theory is definitely great to hear. Her points about attraction and looking at the age old question of “do opposites attract” is definitely something I am interested in. Being attracted to someone who is similar to you in across various dimensions like attitudes and personality makes sense, primarily from a comfort point of view. I assume that knowing someone is in agreement with you helps in security in relationships, but the longevity of that connection is where Sophia’s point on hedonic adaptation is the most fascinating to me. I’ve read (and honestly experienced) about this “three month” phenomenon in relationships- the so-called honeymoon period where after three months the passion and excitement in a relationship kind of fizzles out. Hedonic adaptation probably has something to do with that- you get over the initial newness phase and it becomes the new normal. We studied this in my happiness course and applying it to social connection and relationships is a cool bridge. To combine Karley and Sophia’s findings together, is similarity enough to overcome hedonic adaptation, or does it play into the level of intensity? Does being challenged, discovering new attributes of your partner, and learning how to navigate differences decrease the effect of hedonic adaptation?

  • Evan Tingler // Mar 28th 2023 at 3:05 pm

    Since I was also assigned a blog post this week, it was so fun reading this post and seeing the different topics you guys chose to address as well as some of the common themes we both touched on.

    I would describe myself as a superficial zodiac lover. I am by no means an expert on all the signs and their associations, but I DEFINITELY check up on my and my partner’s sign compatibility and love horoscopes (and am very vulnerable to the rabbit holes on TikTok). Additionally, I don’t take all the advice extremely literally, but I have been surprised by how spot-on some of the predictions and insights really are. There is a viral TikTok trend right now about comparing moon phases of when you and your partner were born to test compatibility. I, of course, went to the website to compare our moons hopeful for a match. When our phases did not match, I immediately thought to myself “this doesn’t mean anything!” To me, horoscopes and zodiacs are something fun and “bigger” to believe in (ex: fate destined by the universe); I tend to hold on to the parts that resonate and ignore/justify the parts that don’t.

    Through my own personal experience, I have found that complete opposites definitely do not attract in terms of values, goals, etc., but there are some opposite personality traits that I think can serve as very good compliments. For example, say both partners love adventure and new experiences, but one is more of a planner and the other is happy to go with the flow. This could be a great situation where both partners have shared values (wanting adventure), and partners mutually benefit from the differences in their planning styles to make the experience happen and share it with someone they love.

    In my own blog post, I also talked about the Triangular Theory of Love (intimacy, passion, and commitment). I found it really interesting how Sophia and I took different approaches to evaluate and understand this theory. It was cool to learn more about how attachment styles are so important in relationship success, specifically as derived from parents and upbringing. Additionally, as Sophia mentioned, I want to learn more about the relationship between sexual satisfaction and communication – how well does communication in the bedroom translate out of the bedroom?

    Overall, I am so interested in the psychology of romantic relationships and appreciated all of the unique aspects tied into this blog!

  • Georgena Williams // Mar 28th 2023 at 3:58 pm

    Karley and Sophia, I enjoyed reading your blog post!

    The first line spoke directly to me. When I had crushes in middle and high school, I always searched their zodiac signs to see if we were compatible and would obsess over every detail. Now I can look back and laugh at the fact that so many other factors are more important when it comes to compatibility. While reading, I was surprised to hear about similarity as a critical factor. In the past, I’ve always heard the phrase opposites attract within relationship compatibility, so it’s definitely surprising to read that shared similarities are more influential. I also think the point about novelty at the end of the blog posts is so important, as novelty ensures that relationships evolve continuously!

  • Rachel // Mar 28th 2023 at 9:00 pm

    Looking at Karley’s piece on astrological signs, it’s interesting to think about, because of the way astrology is used to determine compatibility, but not necessarily finality. Astrology often tells us our core strengths and weaknesses, and where conflicts come into play. However, looking at Sophia’s piece, it’s clear that even when the stars don’t align, it’s possible to commit and make it work. Astrology is fun to think about, but ultimately, it’s the work that gets put in that makes or breaks the relationship.

  • Cassie Sousa // Mar 28th 2023 at 11:51 pm

    Karley, while I had a sneaking suspicion that zodiac signs did not play a role in the compatibility of romantic partners, I must say that your section on the research about zodiac sign compatibility made me feel some degree of relief as my partner and I are apparently not compatible according to astrology (oh well!). Also, while reading this section and the following section about whether opposites attract, I began to wonder about how the idea of zodiac compatibility might relate to popular misconceptions about the idea that opposites attract. I admit that I do not know much about astrology, but it seems that many of the social media posts I see about zodiac compatibility suggest that ideal romantic matches almost never include two people with the same zodiac sign. Perhaps some of the ideas surrounding which zodiac signs are “compatible” are centered around the other common misconception that opposites attract.

    Sophia, your section made me think a lot about marriage. I wonder if marriage is generally problematic for relationships in that it can lead partners to develop a sense of entitlement or deservingness and take one another for granted (due to the legal contract that has been signed by both parties which requires they stay together till death do they part). While all couples certainly need to work to keep things fresh, is “keeping things fresh” harder in a marriage than in another form of long-term commitment like living together or remaining engaged? If so, is the extra stress worth it? Are there psychological or emotional benefits of maintaining a marriage that one does not get from being in a long-term relationship without a legal contract?

  • Pomai // Mar 29th 2023 at 8:05 pm

    Karley, I like your take on horoscopes and astrology. I’m a Scorpio and it’s always fun to check what random horoscopes I end up with. The horoscopes usually have some truth to them, which is enough for me to be like “yes, that’s totally me”. But at the same time, if I read other signs’ horoscopes, I also see a reflection of my personality in those as well. Thus, in many ways all astrology signs seem to have some sort of aspect that is relatable, which makes their significance moot. So, it makes sense that studies don’t find any evidence of astrology being important for relationships. If anything, horoscopes might manifest certain attitudes/behaviors because people check their horoscopes and subconsciously might act similarly to what they read, but other than that horoscopes are just a means of having fun and giving each other the space to dream. Beyond horoscopes, perhaps results on tests like the 16 personalities quiz (e.g., ESTJ, INFP) might be more likely to impact the strength of a relationship because it will show if couples have personalities that complement/clash with each other.

    Sophia, it was really interesting to learn about hedonic adaptation. I never heard the term before, but it makes sense that adaptation after critical events is crucial to maintaining a stable relationship. I’m curious whether a person’s ability to adapt also impacts their levels of anxiety prior to a critical event (e.g., do people who adjust well after getting married have a disposition that makes them less likely to be anxious leading up to the wedding and less likely to get cold feet?). It seems like adaptation is something that can be aided by calmer/more flexible dispositions, so perhaps some people are more prone to bouncing back after positive/negative events? If so, being aware of one’s partners’ natural dispositions may help someone develop habits that make their partner feel comfortable and more supported in the transitions into and out of a critical event. For instance, if someone knows their partner is prone to anxiety, perhaps they could sit down and talk with their partner and go through different calming exercises before the critical event and then focus on being more patient with their partner after the change occurs to help ease them into the new way of living (whereas someone whose partner loves being spontaneous may have to focus on keeping energy and momentum going leading up to and a long time after the critical event occurs).

  • Jessica // Mar 29th 2023 at 8:31 pm

    This idea of hedonic adaptation is so interesting to me. I’ve never heard of it before and applying the concept to romance is honestly a little daunting. I’ve never considered the psychological aspect of major relationship changes like newlyweds post-honeymoon or couples post-distance. I’ve always just thought the stability of your relationship will impact whether you can adapt well to situations that are challenging (or positive and just introduce large changes), so it’s really interesting to read about a theory that suggests the opposite. I do wonder what the research on comfort and routines in relationships says on this finding, though. I totally hear the point about changing things up to keep love alive. But isn’t there also something to be said about finally reaching that point where you feel like you belong? Wouldn’t you want a static relationship that you just know will always be there? I haven’t read any studies on dynamic versus static relationships and I wonder how accepting, rather than adapting to, those habits would impact satisfaction and stability.

  • Eliot // Apr 5th 2023 at 10:20 pm

    Oh man… I am about 6 months into a new relationship, so this does stress me out a little bit to be honest. I really appreciate this thorough and fun breakdown, however!

    Karley, I like how you were liberal in your use of empirical evidence to debunk the whole “opposites attract” nonsense a lot of us have grown up with. It’s simply not true (and, if I recall correctly, it not being true is one of the very first things Dr. Gilbert emphatically yells at his students in PSY 1!) However, I think a follow-up question you can, and certainly should, ask as a follow-up is whether this is a good thing. If we are chiefly interested in potential partners who 1) are similar to us and 2) say good things about us, couldn’t that potentially create an echo chamber-like effect?

    Sophia, I think you touch on lots of really interesting points in your portion, and bring in a lot of vaulable concepts that you explain well such as attachment styles, sexual satisfaction, and hedonic adaptation. The idea of boredom being detrimental to a relationship initially struck me as weird because boredom in and of itself is quite a neutral emotion/state of being, but it makes sense, as a big part of the joy of being in a relationship (at least, in my experience) is the excitement of getting to see my partner every day.

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