So it seems like our “type” may actually reflect a desire to date someone that’s similar to us, or perhaps our idealized and romanticized self. Our quest for sameness goes even further than just college stats and muscle mass. Although scientists can pinpoint general traits that make someone attractive (strong jaw, physical fitness, etc.), studies have shown that we tend to be attracted to those who look like we do. That’s because people want a mate that looks familiar—like their parents or even themselves. In one example, David Perrett, a researcher at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, showed students faces of the opposite sex and asked them to rate them on attractiveness. For one of the faces, he used a picture of the student and morphed it into the opposite sex. Of all the faces to choose from, the students almost always preferred the face that was essentially their own.
We might balk at the narcissism and point to plenty of couples that don’t look alike or share similar backgrounds. But credentials don’t really describe a person’s personality. That’s what Dr. Helen Fischer, an anthropologist and consultant for Chemistry.com, tries to do in her most recent book, Why Him? Why Her? In it, she constructs four different temperaments, based on hormones and neurochemicals, which explain why certain types are attracted to others.
Instead of just looking at things like socioeconomic background and basic interests, Fischer comes up with four main personality types. The Explorer, ruled by high dopamine levels, is a risk-taker, seeks adventure and novelty, and is curious. The Builder has high serotonin activity and is calm, likes schedules and roles, and is conventional. The Director is influenced by testosterone and is focused, analytical, and logical, while the Negotiator has high estrogen activity, sees the big picture, and is compassionate, altruistic, and imaginative.
People can fall into more than one type, but Dr. Fisher contends that while couples may have similarities, they also have traits that complement each other. In Fisher’s view, personality type doesn’t always follow the “like attracts like” situation—Explorers are drawn to Explorers, but Directors and Negotiators tend to pair up well, too