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How do we choose a mate?Posted Sunday, July 29, 2007, at 8:35 PM
I've been doing some fascinating online reading in the magazine "Psychology Today." Romantic that I am, I was interested in an article entitled the "Laws of Chemistry," by Dr. Helen Fisher.
Interesting stuff! Her compatiblity test reminds me a good deal of the test for Eharmony, the singles-matching competitor for Match.com. Last year, I was curious about the Eharmony test, so I spent an hour taking it, only to have my dial-up connection quit with only a few questions left. Fortunately, it saved my place, so I could finish it when I went back in.
Of course, Eharmony will bug you to sign up, but you can just delete those messages. It took about six months for them to quit bothering me.
These days, Match.com has its own 56-question compatibility test. In fact, Dr. Fisher wrote the test for Chemistry.com, a subsidary of Match.com. It's a win-win situation for her: She gets paid for supplying the test, and then she gets to analyze the data from the 1.6 million people who've taken it.
The purpose of the test is to determine if couples are compatible by asking a variety of personality and temperament questions. Dr. Fisher even mentions the "sweaty T-shirt experiment," (which I HAVE to find!), but I don't think she's developed any questions to match smells! (You just have to sniff around on your own.)
In her analysis, everyone is divided into four basic catagories - with combinations possible. After having analyzed 523,622 of the first samples, here are her catagories:
Builders (42 percent of the population) seem to be governed by the chemical serotonin. They tend to be social, popular, cautious (but not fearful), rule following, conventional, and often religious or spiritual.
Explorers (only 8 percent) have temperaments which reflect the dominance of dopamine. They are risk taking, novelty seeking, impulsive, creative, and curious. Builders and Explorers seem attracted to one another.
Negotiators, influenced by estrogen, are verbally skilled, good at "reading" people's faces, posture, gestures, and tone of voice, contextual thinkers, compassionate, nurturing, imaginative, and agreeble. Everybody likes Negotiators, except male Builders. Negotiators are mostly drawn to their own kind.
Directors, who express the effects of testosterone, are direct, decisive, focused, outwardly competitive, analytical and logical, and skilled with machines and other rule-based systems. Directors favor Negotiators.
Of course, everyone is a mixture of all these qualities, but Dr. Fisher says that most people have more of one chemical than the others.
She has a short sample test on the site at www.psychologytoday.com under the heading "The Laws of Chemistry."
After all this analysis, Dr. Fisher admits that there is a "magic" to love, and she doubts that we will ever fully understand (or harness) its forces. HA!! That's an understatement!
I think we all want that "Somewhere in Time" love which can transcend time and space.
My question is this: If you could design a test for a prospective mate, what would you ask him/her??
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.