27.06.2018 change 27.06.2018

Similar emotional intelligence is important when choosing a partner

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It helps resolve conflicts and properly support others in difficult times. Similar emotional intelligence is one of the most important factors that guide us when choosing a life partner, shows research of scientists from the Jagiellonian University and the University of Warsaw.

"Many studies have shown that people in relationships are similar in many respects. Such similarity is associated with greater relationship stability and satisfaction" - explains Dr. Magdalena Śmieja from the Institute of Psychology of the Jagiellonian University, who conducted the study together with Dr. Maciej Stolarski from the University of Warsaw.

The selection consisting in choosing partners with similar traits is called assortative mating. In the language of science, the term means that people and other animals choose partners with a similar phenotype, similar set of various traits.

According to the Institute of Psychology of the Jagiellonian University, until now the selection of a partner in terms of the same features was analysed taking into account various personality traits, general intelligence and social factors. These studies show, for example, that the strongest traits for assortative mating are age and worldview, and the less important ones include intelligence and education. But, according to Dr. Śmieja, few studies have concerned another important factor in choosing a partner: emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence seems to be one of the more desirable traits of a life partner. It is the ability to notice, understand and deal with emotions. That, in turn, can be the foundation for maintaining a close relationship with another person. For example, people with high emotional intelligence more often look for constructive ways to solve problems, including everyday ones. They are also able to prevent the deepening of partner`s sadness or lack of satisfaction with the relationship.

Researchers from the Institute of Psychology of the Jagiellonian University have checked whether and how important emotional intelligence is for assortative mating. A study of over 380 heterosexual couples aged 17 to 78 showed that emotional intelligence is a significant factor in the process of sexual selection.

"For both women and men, the strongest predictor of the level of emotional intelligence of a partner was their own ability to perceive emotions. This means that people who accurately recognize and interpret emotions are more likely to choose partners with a similar level of emotional intelligence" - explains Dr. Śmieja.

Large diversity of the relationship length of couples taking part in the study allowed the researchers to answer the question of whether the respondents had chosen a partner similar to themselves, or rather had become similar to each other over time. Since the correlation between the partners` EI levels did not change with the time of the relationship, researchers concluded that in this case it was rather the selection of a similar partner than becoming similar to the partner.

Research financed by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education grant was published in Current Psychology 10.1007/s12144-016-9501-8.

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