To all the external things that bring people together, add genetics: A new study discovered that husbands and wives were more genetically similar to each other than they were to other randomly selected individuals.
Researchers at the University of Colorado-Boulder examined genetic data from a study of over 800 heterosexual non-Hispanic white American couples, focusing on the parts of the DNA strand that tend to differ from individual to individual. They found that, in general, a husband and wife were more genetically similar to each other than either of them were to randomly selected people in the same population group. The study was recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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What’s the Big Idea?
People choose spouses based on a host of well-known factors — including education, which played a far stronger role than DNA — but the findings in this study suggest that on some unconscious level genetics may be playing a matchmaking role as well, putting into question the true randomness of human mating. The researchers note the limitations with regards to the relative homogeneity of the sample population, and add that the results “only represent a first step in understanding the ways in which humans may assortively mate with respect to their genome.”