Chances are, you’re going to marry someone a lot like you. Similar intelligence, similar height, similar body weight. A new study of tens of thousands of married couples suggests that this isn’t an accident. We don’t marry educated people because we happen to hang around with educated people, for example—we actively seek them out. And these preferences are shaping our genomes.
…[Researchers] found a strong statistical correlation between people’s genetic markers for height and the actual height of their partner. They also found a statistically significant, but weaker, correlation between people’s genes for BMI and actual BMI in partners: People had actively chosen partners with similar genes to themselves.
Such assortative mating increases relatedness in families and can help their offspring survive better as long as the trait under selection (larger size, for example) continues to be beneficial—helping males acquire and fend off mates, for example.
Assortative mating boosts the odds that a trait, such as height, will be passed to offspring. That has implications for genetic models that predict how likely it is that members of a family will inherit a trait, whether it’s a disease such as schizophrenia or a physical trait, such as height.
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