Best Practices for Testing the Predictive Validity of Ideal Partner Preference-Matching

Paul W. Eastwick*, Eli J. Finkel, Jeffry A. Simpson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Many psychological hypotheses require testing whether the similarity between two variables predicts important outcomes. For example, the ideal standards model posits that the match between (A) a participant’s ideal partner preferences, and (B) the traits of a current/potential partner, predicts (C) evaluative outcomes (e.g., the decision to date someone, relationship satisfaction, breakup); tests of the predictive validity of ideal-matching require A × B → C analytic strategies. However, recent articles have incorrectly suggested that documenting a positive samplewide correlation between a participant’s ideals and a current partner’s traits (an A-B correlation) implies that participants pursued, selected, or desired partners with traits that matched their ideals. There are at least six alternative explanations for the emergence of a samplewide A-B correlation; A-B correlations do not provide evidence that ideals guide the selection/evaluation of specific partners. We review appropriately rigorous A × B → C tests that can aid scholars in identifying the circumstances in which ideal-matching exhibits predictive validity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-181
Number of pages15
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • close relationships
  • human mating
  • ideals
  • matching hypothesis
  • predictive validity


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