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Getting to not know you

Young couples are better than long-term partners at discerning each other’s preferences

BASEL, Switzerland — Long-lasting marriages may thrive on love, compromise and increasing ignorance about one another. 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, a new study finds.

Two University of Basel psychologists, Benjamin Scheibehenne and Jutta Mata, working with psychologist Peter Todd of Indiana University in Bloomington, observed this counterintuitive pattern in 38 young couples aged 19 to 32, and 20 older couples aged 62 to 78. The greatest gap in partner knowledge was in predicting food preferences, an area with particular relevance to daily life, the scientists report in a paper scheduled to appear in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

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