Partnership longevity and personality congruence in couples

Critical Evaluation
Assignment: Critical Evaluation
Critically evaluate this paper:
Rammstedt, B., Spinath, F.M., Richter, D., & Schupp, J. (2013). Partnership longevity and
personality congruence in couples. Personality and Individual Differences, 54, 832- 835.
doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2012.12.007.
Evidence of assortative mating according to personality was reported in a previous SOEP-
based study (Rammstedt & Schupp, 2008). Based on population representative data of
almost 7000 couples, high levels of congruence between spouses were found, which
increased with marriage duration. Almost 5000 of these couples were tracked over a five-
year period with personality assessed at the beginning and end of this time, which allowed
us to investigate the relationship between personality congruence and marriage duration
longitudinally. Using this data, we investigated (a) whether personality congruence is
predictive for partnership longevity and whether congruence therefore differs between
subsequently stable and
unstable couples, (b) if stable couples become more congruent, and (c) if separated couples
become less congruent with regard to their personality over time. The results provide
initial evidence of personality congruence as a predictor for partnership longevity: the
more congruent couples are in the personality domain of Openness, the more stable their
partnership. In addition, we found no indications of an increase in personality congruence
over time within the stable couples; within the separated couples, however, a strong
decrease in congruence was detectable.
Structure of the paper: The structure of the paper is similar to that for an essay: you will
need an introduction, broad description of the paper selected, and a brief description of
your evaluation and argument supporting your evaluation. You will need to consider why
the work was done (rationale, how convincing is this rationale), what work has been cited
to support the theory (methodology and methods, how appropriate are the methodology
and methods chosen), nature of participants (whether they were appropriately selected),
what results were obtained (if quantitative, how big/convincing were the effects; and what
the implications of the study are (for theoretical understanding and for practical
application, what are the limitations of the study and how may they be overcome).
Examples of previous student submissions will be provided and discussed in the tutorial
Note that a critical evaluation does not mean that you write negatively of the topic, rather a
critical evaluation is your scholarly response to the target paper. The critical element
means that you provide evidence for your evaluation, whether it be positive or negative.
Your submission will not be just a summary of the paper you choose, which has been
expected of your undergraduate writing in psychology to date, but rather a summary and
your critical evaluation. In providing your critical evaluation, make sure that you back up
your statements, and don’t generalize.
Statistical understanding: I have deliberately selected papers which should be within your
statistical understanding.
Use of quotation: Avoid quotations.
Citation: Use primary sources (i.e. journal articles, and reviews). Do not use Maltby et al.
(2010). In addition, you should not cite sources such as Wikipedia, and other generic
information sites. Provide somewhere between 8 and 10 references of recent 10 years.

Length of Essay: Your critical evaluation should be no more than six pages double-spaced,
excluding references. You must use 12 point, Time-New Roman font, double-spaced. Please
note that it is not expected that you write an abstract.

Partnership longevity and personality congruence in couples: a critical evaluation


A SOEP (Socio- Economic Panel Study)-based study that was done in the past provided
immense assortative mating evidence that was based on personality. The results of the study
were considered to be representative as they were founded on a population representative data
obtained from approximately seven thousand couples. It was noted that with an increase in
marriage duration, there was more congruence between spouses. Approximately five thousand
couples among the seven thousand had a follow-up for a period of five years. Their personality
was assessed at before and after the five years period. This was vital as it enabled a longitudinal
assessment of the link between marriage duration and personality congruence (Swann &
William, 2005).
Hence, the study had a purpose to find out if personality congruence is a predating factor
for how long a partnership lasts and if, therefore, congruence varies between subsequently
instable and stable couples (Rammstedt et al., 2013). The second aim was to find out whether
stable couples were associated with more congruence and finally, whether couples who are
separated end up being less congruent as far as their personality is concerned overtime.
The results of the study were the first to offer personality congruence evidence as a
partnership longevity predictor; couples who are more congruent have more openness between
them and this makes their relationship, marriage, and partnership more stable. In both separated
and stable couples, there was no evidence of personality congruence increase overtime.
However, it was noted that there was a solid congruence reduction (Rammstedt et al., 2013).


Evaluation and argument

There is a common saying that opposites attract. However, various research studies
published in Personality and Individual Differences prove that similar personalities is a
predicting factor towards prolonged partnerships. The collected data evidenced that the more the
level of compatibility as far as personality is concerned in couples, the more the stability and
longevity of their relationship. On the same note, it was found out that couples who had
separated within the five year period had a steady decrease in their personality’s compatibility.

Works that support the theory- methods and methodology
A SOEP-based study that had been done previously indicated that personality congruence
was present between couples. The present study aimed at assessing the extent to which a
subsequent separation was as a result of absence of personality congruence. To achieve this,
there was a comparison between the congruence levels concerning the Big Five dimensions in
2005 in stable and separated couples. Definitely, the two subsamples had varying socio-
demographic attributes (Omoto & Snyder, 2005). To cater for this, the partial convergent
correlations between the female and male personalities were controlled through factoring in the
educational levels, duration of marriage, socio-economic status, and ages. For both the instable
and stable couples, there was a substantial and similar personality congruence level.
A research that was done by Lynne M. Knobloch-Fedders and Roger M. Knudson and
titled ‘Marital ideals of the newly-married: A longitudinal Analysis’ found out that marital ideals
were qualitatively variant from those noted in dating relationships (Vannoy, 2008). It was
evident in the study that marital ideals were basically traditional and intimate as opposed to
romanticized. Moreover, conflict ideals were basically practical as opposed to romantic, and

their level of practicality increased overtime. This is an indication that the more the number of
years a couple is married, the more the prevalence of personality congruence issues, which is a
principal contributing factor to the high levels of marriage separations (Markey & Markey,
2007). My take was that the Big Five dimensions (openness, emotional stability,
conscientiousness, agreeableness, and extraversion) were more evident during marriage when an
individual’s true colors were exposed as opposed to during dating (Lutz-Zois et al., 2006).
During marriage, the couple is living together practically and the more the compatible a couple’s
character is, the more the longevity of the relationship. An earlier study identified openness as a
principal personality domain where couples show congruence.

Appropriateness of the methods and methodology

The methods and methodology used in the study allowed assessment of various
personality traits. Moreover, various measures were put in place to ensure validity and credibility
of the results obtained. For instance, as far as separation was concerned, a couple was only
labeled ‘separated’ if both couples presented self-reports independently indicating that they had
separated between 2006 and 2010. Therefore, information from one party had to be validated
with information from the second party (Lodi-Smith & Roberts, 2007).
It is noteworthy that the Big Five personality aspects were assessed two times; 2005 and

  1. Every domain was investigated using three items and these were to be answered using a 7-
    point scale whose range was from ‘does apply’ to ‘does not apply.’ The scale used were
    openness, emotional stability, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and extraversion. The scale
    scores and coefficient alpha factors were considered.
    Nature of applicants

The study results were analyzed based on data that was obtained from the German SOEP.
The SOEP is a representative and nationally renowned longitudinal annual panel study that
engages with private individuals and households (Landis et al., 2013). Presently, the SOEP data
has been in existence for twenty seven years (1984- 2010) and roughly 22,000 people have
participated. This includes people from the former East and West Germany, resident foreigners,
and immigrants.
This data was adequately representative and involved people from various backgrounds.
It is worth noting that more recent data was analyzed; 2005- 2010 which ensured that the present
lifestyle, and marriage and relationship trends was the focus. Another key thing to note is that
household members included in the study had started living with their partners (heterosexual) in
2005 and information for every wave had to be available (Knobloch-Fedders & Knudson, 2009).
The sample used has 4,809 couples where the age of males varied between 19-95 and
females had 18-89 years. 4,308 couples were still married. Out of the 4,809 couples, 4,610 had
remained relatively stable up to 2010 while 199 separated within the 6 years during which the
survey was in progress.


The personality congruence effect was very evident for the stable couples (Jackson et al.,
2011). For the couples that separated afterwards, there was less congruence as far as the Big Five
dimensions were involved and this was an indication of assortative mating. For the domains that
were non-indicative, there was a higher level of congruence as opposed to the case for the staple
These results support the fact that there is a higher level of personality congruence in
more stable couples as opposed to couples who separate subsequently (Ozer & Benet-Martinez,

2006). The study was also aimed at assessing the level at which couples tend to have similar
personalities as their relationship ages. Hence, the Big Five domains’ levels of congruence were
assessed in 2005 and compared to the results of the assessment four years later (Freund, Nikitin
& Ritter, 2009). There was no significant personality congruence change in the stable couples.
My take is that the couples that separated within a period of five years after the initial assessment
was carried out might have experienced huge transformations as far as their personalities were
concerned. Consequently, this resulted to reduced congruence for the partners. This notion was
also supported by the results obtained from the separated couples (Fincham, Paleari & Regalia,
2004). As far as a reduction of personality congruence was concerned, there was a key concern
for the openness dimension.
For the couples who separated later, while they were still intact, their personality
congruence was a bit comparable to the stable couples. However, after separation, the ex-
spouses’ personality congruence reduced to nearly zero. This reduction was evidence for the five
domains and this was an indication that couples become more dissimilar in their personalities
after separation (Diener, Oishi & Lucas, 2003). In addition to an influence on an individual’s
personality, there is a marked reduction in the ex-spouse’s personality congruence.


Generally, the study found out that personality congruence is linked to partnership
longevity (Boertien, Scheve & Park, 2012). The more open a couple is to each other, the more
the stability in their relationship. This information is very vital for counselors dealing with
marriage and couple counseling. More specifically, couples who are ready to get married should
be exposed to this information so as to assess the level of their compatibility and, therefore, the
likelihood of their marriage surviving.



The study was limited in that the sample was particularly limited to allow the assessment
of the level at which changes take place.


There is a higher level of personality congruence in more stable couples as opposed to
couples who separate later. Couples with almost similar personalities are likely to have a
prolonged marriage or partnership as opposed to couples whose personalities are totally
different. Personality congruence reduces greatly after a couple separates. Openness is a key
ingredient to ensure prolonged longevity between couples.



Boertien, D., Scheve, C. V., & Park, M. (2012). Education, personality and separation: The
distribution of relationship skills across society.
Diener, E., Oishi, S., & Lucas, R. E. (2003). Personality, culture, and subjective well-being:
Emotional and cognitive evaluations of life. Annual review of psychology, 54(1), 403-
Fincham, F. D., Paleari, F., & Regalia, C. (2004). Forgiveness in marriage: The role of
relationship quality, attributions, and empathy. Personal Relationships, 9(1), 27-37.
Freund, A. M., Nikitin, J., & Ritter, J. O. (2009). Psychological consequences of longevity.
Human Development, 52(1), 1-37.
Jackson, B., Dimmock, J. A., Gucciardi, D. F., & Grove, J. R. (2011). Personality traits and
relationship perceptions in coach–athlete dyads: Do opposites really attract?. Psychology
of Sport and Exercise, 12(3), 222-230.
Knobloch-Fedders, L. M., & Knudson, R. M. (2009). Marital ideals of the newly-married: A
longitudinal analysis. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 26(2-3), 249-271.
Landis, M., Peter-Wight, M., Martin, M., & Bodenmann, G. (2013). Dyadic coping and marital
satisfaction of older spouses in long-term marriage. GeroPsych: The Journal of
Gerontopsychology and Geriatric Psychiatry, 26(1), 39.
Lodi-Smith, J., & Roberts, B. W. (2007). Social investment and personality: A meta-analysis of
the relationship of personality traits to investment in work, family, religion, and
volunteerism. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 11(1), 68-86.

Lutz-Zois, C. J., Bradley, A. C., Mihalik, J. L., & Moorman-Eavers, E. R. (2006). Perceived
similarity and relationship success among dating couples: An idiographic approach.
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 23(6), 865-880.
Markey, P. M., & Markey, C. N. (2007). Romantic ideals, romantic obtainment, and relationship
experiences The complementarity of interpersonal traits among romantic partners.
Journal of social and Personal Relationships, 24(4), 517-533.
Omoto, A. M., & Snyder, M. (2005). Sustained helping without obligation: motivation, longevity
of service, and perceived attitude change among AIDS volunteers. Journal of personality
and social psychology, 68(4), 671.
Ozer, D. J., & Benet-Martinez, V. (2006). Personality and the prediction of consequential
outcomes. Annu. Rev. Psychol., 57, 401-421.
Rammstedt, B., Spinath, F. M., Richter, D., & Schupp, J. (2013). Personality Changes in
Couples: Partnership Longevity and Personality Congruence in Couples (No. 585).
DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
Rammstedt, B., Spinath, F.M., Richter, D., & Schupp, J. (2013). Partnership longevity and
personality congruence in couples. Personality and Individual Differences, 54, 832- 835.
Swann, J., & William, B. (2005). The self and identity negotiation. Interaction studies, 6(1), 69-
Vannoy, D. (2008). Social differentiation, contemporary marriage, and human development.
Journal of Family Issues, 12(3), 251-267.