Most contemporary social psychological studies on inter-personal attraction have independently explored the competing concepts of similarity and complementarity. Incorporating evolutionary principles associated with assortative mating, two studies were conducted that examined individual difference preferences using the five-factor model (FFM) of human personality as assessed by the NEO-FFI. The first study (N=104) examined the degree to which individuals showed an absolute or relative preference in an “ideal romantic partner” when compared to self-rated personality. The second study (N=161) extended this by incorporating personality ratings for self, “ideal” romantic partner, and “actual” romantic partner, and perceptions of mate value for each. Overall, findings supported both evolutionary and social psychological theories of inter-personal attraction and support both relative and absolute preferences in romantic partners. Individuals sought mates that were matches of themselves to some degree (a concept that we termed aspirational positive assortative mating) but also sought mates that were somewhat higher in Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Mate Value, but lower in Neuroticism than themselves.
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