Is there evidence for or against soul mates

Question to the brain

Hans- Werner Bierhoff, Professor of Social Psychology at the Ruhr University Bochum:

Soul kinship is an expression of deep bond that arises, for example, in a partnership through shared values ​​and experiences. This generates the feeling of sharing your own worldview with your partner and feeling the same or at least similar in crucial matters. Such an impression can, however, also arise in brief, more coincidental encounters with strangers - if one assumes such shared experiences and emotions.

Because that is exactly the crux of the matter: The kinship is basically an illusion. Or rather, it is a subjective feeling that - at least in the case of real partnerships and friendships - is based on objective similarities and strengthens them in one's own perception. This then strengthens the feeling of togetherness.

We investigated this effect a few years ago with our research group. For this purpose, we asked couples who had been in a relationship for a long time to fill out questionnaires about their ideas about the partnership and their willingness to bond. Based on these assessments, we determined the actual similarity of the partners. In addition, the study participants were asked to assess the partner's ideas. In this way we were able to determine the subjectively perceived and the actual similarity and compare them with one another.

The evaluation focused on the differences between the actual similarity of the partners and the perceived similarity: The perceived similarity with the partner was consistently higher than it corresponded to objective reality. In some points, the test subjects even suspected similarities that their better half did not confirm at all. If you feel yourself to be on friendly terms but less romantically in love, you tend to see your partner as friendly and less romantically in love too. Likewise, the agreement in the intention to bind in the subjective view - compared to the objective similarity - was exaggerated.

This means that there are real similarities and similarities between the partners, but not as much as assumed. We tend to attribute our own experiences and feelings to our partner. You kind of pretend that the other person ticks the way you do, although that doesn't correspond to reality at all or at least the degree of commonality is exaggerated. It idealizes both the loved one and the relationship.

The interesting thing: The imaginary kinship helps to feel good. Because it makes you feel understood and confirmed. And the relationship itself appears in a more positive light and more harmonious than it may in reality. According to this, the kinship is an illusion, but at least it makes you happy and satisfied.

Recorded by Stefanie Reinberger

for further reading:
Hans-Werner Bierhoff and Elke Rohmann: What makes love strong. Reinbek, 2005