Research shows that individuals consider multiple personal characteristics when seeking a long-term partner. Under this scenario, what one finds lacking in a specific area could be overcome with strength in another area.

"The findings highlight that Aristotle's famous quote, 'The whole is more than the sum of its parts', is pertinent when it comes to personal characteristics and marital arrangements," said Michael T. French, a professor at University of Miami.

The study accounted for cohabitation and marriage as competing events in contrast to being single and living without a romantic partner.

It examined three possible outcomes in over 9,000 participants: marriage with or without prior cohabitation, cohabitation without subsequently getting married and neither marriage nor cohabitation.

The results show that 52 percent of married respondents and 51.7 percent of those in cohabiting relationships ending in marriage were rated as above average in physical attractiveness.

Whereas 45.9 percent of those in a cohabiting relationship without subsequent marriage and 43.6 percent in neither marriage nor cohabitation scored above average on the attractiveness scale.

Similar results were found for personality and grooming. "Women with above average grooming are less likely to cohabit without subsequent marriage. For men, having an above average personality has the strongest association with the likelihood of getting married," explained French.

Men with above average physical attractiveness have a greater chance of cohabitation without subsequent marriage.

"Men with above average looks tend to be more likely to cohabit while men with above average personalities tend to be more likely to marry (but less likely to cohabit)," explained the study, published in the journal Social Science Research.


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