Nice guys finish first? Study claims finding a kind partner more important than compatibility

EAST LANSING, Mich — Countless dating sites and apps claim to use sophisticated algorithms and  techniques to connect users with their “perfect match.” While sharing interests certainly doesn’t hurt, a new study out of Michigan State University claims that at the end of the day, simply finding a nice and pleasant partner is more important.

“People invest a lot in finding someone who’s compatible, but our research says that may not be the end all be all,” explains lead study author Bill Chopik in a release. “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 and his team claim to have conducted the most comprehensive study ever on relationship happiness. More specifically, researchers utilized a long-term survey of more than 2,500 heterosexual couples who have been married around 20 years. Using this data, the study’s authors measured the impact of personality traits on well-being in these relationships.

Researchers were shocked when their results indicated that shared interests and similar personalities had little to no effect on relationship satisfaction. Even among couples sharing personality traits, the study found that having a conscientious and nice partner leads to a more satisfying relationship. The study also concluded that relationships including a person who is especially neurotic, or extroverted, leads to lower relationship satisfaction.

The study’s authors say that dating apps attempting to match people based on shared interests may need to rethink their approach.

“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 says. “We don’t know why the heart chooses what it does, but with this research, we can rule out compatibility as the lone factor.”

The study is published in the Journal of Research in Personality.