Yes, people do have a type when it comes to looks, and to an extent also when it comes to education and intelligence, a psychological study has found. But as for what your exes think of you – there's no discernible pattern, the study authors report.

The study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, used data from more than 1,000 past and present heterosexual relationships among young adults. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, searched through this data for patterns in looks, demographics and whether former lovers shared similar opinions of their ex-in-common.

"If predictable, stable factors bring [couples] together beyond chance alone, a person's romantic partners will cluster, which means that they will exhibit similarities that are not shared with other individuals who have never been the person's relationship partner," the authors write in the paper.

Looks and social qualities

In terms of easily observable traits such as looks, the study authors did find a pattern, with a person's exes usually being of a similar level of attractiveness. However, this was partly down to how attractive the person in question was, as partners tend to be similarly attractive.

When looking more broadly at social qualities such as intelligence, educational aspiration and self-esteem, there was also a pattern among exes. While this was a significant pattern, when demographic factors, such as where people went to school or university, were taken into account, this effect became less pronounced.

In other words, people who go to the same universities are likely to have roughly similar levels of intelligence and educational aspiration. University is often where people meet partners, so they may be similar partly because of those circumstances.

"Do people have a type? Yes," said the study's primary author, Paul Eastwick of the University of California, Davis, in a statement. "But sometimes it reflects your personal desirability and sometimes it reflects where you live."

Judgment by exes

Taking another step back and looking at what several exes of one person thought about their former lover painted a fuzzier picture. The last part of the study focused what women thought of male partners with whom they had had a sexual relationship. The women rated the men on their appearance, humour, manners, ambition and commitment.

There was very little evidence of a pattern in these opinions among exes. Men's exes did not agree whether a former lover was romantically desirable, a good sex partner or generally on his positive and negative qualities, the authors write.