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Behav Genet. 2013 Mar;43(2):108-19. doi: 10.1007/s10519-012-9578-2. Epub 2012 Dec 22.

Non-random mating and convergence over time for mental health, life satisfaction, and personality: the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study.

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Division of Mental Health, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, P.O. Box 4404, Nydalen, 0403 Oslo, Norway.


Earlier studies have shown evidence for various sources of observed spousal similarity regarding different traits and characteristics. We explored the relative contribution of non-random mating and convergence to spouse similarity with respect to global mental health, life satisfaction, optimism, and type A personality. We used population-based data collected for the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (1984-1986) and prospective registry information about when and with whom people entered into marriage/cohabitation between 1970 and 2000 for 19,599 married/cohabitating couples and 1,551 future couples that entered into marriage/cohabitation during the 16 years after data collection. Couples were categorized by interval between data collection and entry into marriage/cohabitation. Age-adjusted polychoric correlations calculated for each group were used as the dependent variables in non-linear, segmented regression analysis, with time since or until marriage/cohabitation as the independent variable. Initial correlations between partners-to-be were low to moderate, typically around one-half of the values estimated in existing couples, indicating both non-random mating and early convergence. There appeared to be moderate divergence during the first 20 years of marriage/cohabitation and moderate convergence during the rest of life.

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