Politics in existing families is pretty predictable, as are the stale disagreements around the dinner table.
But a new research study finds that before they form a family, American couples are surprisingly wary of revealing their politics to dates or potential mates online.
So wary, in fact, that members of both genders are more likely to describe themselves as overweight before they are to reveal their political persuasion. Obviously fearing to disclose their ignorance if they lean to the liberal side and being reluctant to appear boastful if they're more conservative.
The researchers -- Rose McDermott, Casey Klofstad and Peter Hatemi -- studied 2,944 random profiles from 313 Zip Codes on an unidentified Internet dating site. They found that only 14% indicated "political interests," and 57% of those safely described themselves as "middle of the road." Sixteen percent bragged of being conservative, while only 9% confessed to liberal leanings.
Political interests were so unpopular to list overall that they ranked fourth from the bottom of 27 categories, below even video games.
Compared to the 14% political, 17% were willing to publicly describe themselves as "heavyset" or another favorite euphemism, "stocky."
The older and better-educated, the would-be daters, the more comfortable they seemed listing political preferences.
The study, published in "Evolution and Human Behavior," noted the apparent disparity with previous studies that found spouses sharing political preferences more than any other interest, except religion.
Researchers theorize that at the getting-to-know-you stage, most members of both genders are reluctant to exclude anyone by possibly professing contrary political views. But that during the dating/courting process, both men and women tend to exclude partners of divergent politics, dumping the dummies who disagree with them.
"In the short run," said Klofstad, "most people want to cast as wide a net as possible when dating. However, in the long run, shared political preferences become a critical foundation of lasting relationships, despite the fact that many Americans are not even interested in politics."
The similarity in parental politics, however, contributes to another typical characteristic in American homes, political preferences being inherited by the children. Especially if they pursue extensive schooling to become thoughtful, well-informed, educated and, well, you know.
-- Andrew Malcolm
Photo: Saul Young / Associated Press (Obama DisappointMINTS on sale in Tennessee).