Most people choose their spouses based on a very specific, unique set of characteristics like “nice hair” or “funny.” Ok, other things like race, religion, age and education also enter the mix. But what about DNA?
Researchers have found that people are more likely to choose a mates with similar DNA to their own.
“It’s well known that people marry folks who are like them,” said Benjamin Domingue, lead author of the paper and a research associate at University of Colorado Boulder’s Institute of Behavioral Science. “But there’s been a question about whether we mate at random with respect to genetics.”
Domingue and colleagues looked for evidence of “genetic assortative mating” among a sample of 825 non-Hispanic white American couples. They compared 1.7 million potential points of genetic similarity among married couples to noncoupled pairs in the population. They found that there were fewer differences in the DNA between married people than between two randomly selected individuals.
The researchers learned that genetic assortative mating is about one-third the strength of educational assortative mating, which is the more common phenomenon of people with similar educations marrying. “People with more similar genes end up having similar education, which places them in the same social situations and gives them a better chance to mate,” he said.
Results were published May 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
(Photo by Agence Tophos via Flickr)