The science behind why it didn’t work out.
We’d all like to think of ourselves as optimists, but a team of psychologists suggests that this is simply not the case when it comes to relationships.
In fact, when it comes to selecting a romantic partner, most of us tend to see the glass as half empty — just one or two negatives about an individual can outweigh countless positives.
“We have a general tendency to attend more closely to negative information than we do to positive information,” Gregory Webster, associate professor of psychology at the University of Florida, said in a press release.
The study, published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, was conducted by an international team of researchers from the University of Florida, Western Sydney University, Rutgers University, Singapore Management University, and Indiana University.
The experts used information from six independent studies to determine the top “deal breakers” for people when deciding whether a potential partner could be “the one.”
In no particular order, the 7 deal breakers are:
Undesirable personality traits
Limited social status
Differing religious beliefs
Different relationship goals
Different mating strategies
The researchers say that although people typically think about potential partners in terms of positive traits, people subconsciously “weed out those with undesirable traits from their pool of eligible mates,” according to the press release.
“A lot of times, just by avoiding negative traits, people will probably be fairly well off—maybe even more well off—than if they were trying to optimize the best potential partner,” Webster says.
Interestingly, the results show that the effect of these deal breakers is stronger for women and people in committed relationships, but it’s also important to note that a deal breaker for one person could be a deal maker for another.
For instance, some people might be attracted to someone with an impulsive personality while others may see it as an undesirable trait.
Overall, the findings support adaptive attentional biases in human social cognition, Webster says, which suggests that focusing on others’ negative traits can actually serve as a survival function.
“Things that can harm are generally more important [to pay attention to] than things that can help you,” he concluded.
If you do find yourself broken-hearted in the future, Stanford psychologists conducted recent research into relationships psychology and revealed the worst thing you can do after a breakup — check it out here.