Sometimes, after meeting a friend’s significant other, someone will observe that the man or woman in question is “the marrying type.” Others around will nod wisely and pensively sip their drinks. (I imagine this sort of thing happens in a dimly lit bar, where the friends have convened to imbibe and pass judgment.) What exactly identifies this person as the marrying type is unclear—maybe it’s a certain sparkle in their eye, or maybe they have helpfully tattooed a dotted outline on their left ring finger where a wedding ring might go.
But science is not satisfied with these clues. Science wants answers. What personal traits make someone the marrying type? A new study published in Social Science Research looks at how attractiveness, personality, and grooming influence the likelihood that someone will get married, or cohabitate in a relationship.
Michael T. French, a sociology professor at the University of Miami, and his team looked at longitudinal data of more than 9,000 adolescents as they became young adults—starting in 1994 when participants were in high school and middle school and ending in 2009 when they were aged 24 to 34. Interviewers were asked to rate the participants’ looks, personality, and grooming on a scale of one to five, five being the most attractive. So this study doesn’t get into the nuances of personality, and how one person’s “sarcastic and abrasive” might be another’s “charming and adorable,” but instead just looks at whether someone’s personality is generally “attractive.”