The key to a happy relationship could be as simple as finding a person who is conscientious and nice, according to a study which suggests that sharing similar personalities may not be as important as believed.
The study, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, also found that dating apps that match people on compatibility may have it all wrong, despite their popularity.
"People invest a lot in finding someone who is compatible, but our research says that may not be the end all be all," said Bill Chopik, an associate professor at the Michigan State University (MSU) in the US.
"Instead, people may want to ask, 'Are they a nice person?' 'Do they have a lot of anxiety?' Those things matter way more than the fact that two people are introverts and end up together," Chopik said.
The most striking finding of the study was that having similar personalities had almost no effect on how satisfied people were in their lives and relationships, he said.
Despite their popularity, apps that match people on compatibility may have it all wrong, Chopik said.
"When you start to get into creating algorithms and psychologically matching people, we actually don't know as much about that as we think we do," Chopik said.
"We don't know why the heart chooses what it does, but with this research, we can rule out compatibility as the lone factor," he said.
The researchers looked at almost every way couples could be happy, making it the most comprehensive study to date.
Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, which is a long-running survey of households, Chopik and Richard Lucas, MSU Foundation Professor, measured the effects of personality traits on well-being in more than 2,500 heterosexual couples who have been married for roughly 20 years.
Even among the couples who share similar personalities, researchers found having a partner who is conscientious and nice leads to higher levels of relationship satisfaction, researchers found.
At the same time, having a partner who is neurotic, and, surprisingly, more extroverted, results in lower relationship satisfaction, they found. PTI