A new study from the University of Basel suggests that couples married for an average of 40 years know less about one another's food, movie and kitchen-design preferences than do partners who have been married or in committed relationships for a year or two.
Benjamin Scheibehenne and Jutta Mata, working with psychologist Peter Todd of Indiana University in Bloomington found that the greatest gap in partner knowledge was in predicting food preferences, an area with particular relevance to daily life.
"That wasn't what we expected to find, but this evidence lends support to a hypothesis that accuracy in predicting each other's preferences decreases over the course of a relationship despite greater time and opportunity to learn about each other's likes and dislikes," ABC News quoted Todd as saying.
This probably happens because they view their relationship as firmly committed or assume that they have little left to learn about each other, the researchers proposed.
The results revealed that long-term partners expressed more overconfidence in their knowledge about each other's preferences than people in short relationships did.
Members of long-term relationships often attributed their own food, movie and design preferences to partners who had different opinions. What's more, long-term partners may be especially apt to tell "white lies" to each other in order to keep the relationship running smoothly, thus diluting their knowledge of one another.
However, despite their relative disadvantage in predicting partners' preferences, long-term couples reported more satisfaction with their relationships than did younger couples.
The study is reported in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.