Laura Freberg reports on a recent study and some provocative findings that challenge the matching hypothesis:
"82 couples were asked to discuss a personal problem with their partners for 10 minutes, and videotapes were rated to determine how supportive participants were of their partners’ goals, such as eating healthier, exercising more, or finding a new job.
"Raters also evaluated the participants for facial attractiveness, and found that in about one third of the couples, the husband was more attractive. In another third, the wife was more attractive, and in the remaining third, the husband and wife were about equally attractive (we might consider these the “matching” group).
"When wives were more attractive than their husbands, they behaved quite well. However, when husbands were more attractive than their wives, both behaved rather badly.
"The data supported the following conclusion by the authors:"
“'In sum, these results suggest that it is less relevant to the satisfaction and behavior of married couples that spouses be attractive on an absolute scale or similarly attractive to each other as it is that wives be more attractive than their husbands.'” read more...
(One comment on the design: different sets of judges should have been used for ratings of attractiveness and ratings of the interactions, just to keep things a little cleaner.)