There is a proverb to suit every occasion. That may be why proverbial wisdom contradicts itself so much. If a beautiful young woman is swept off her feet by a balding nerd, we say that opposites attract. When a couple meets in church, we say that birds of a feather flock together. Here are some contradictory pairs of popular sayings that are of interest to psychologists.
1. Opposites attract. Birds of a feather flock together.
Opposites attract is mostly a myth: couples match up for age, physical attractiveness, height, religion, income, ethnic group, political views and so on.
2. The early bird gets the worm. Haste makes waste.
So hurry up and wait!
3. All good things come to him who waits. A stitch in time saves nine.
4. Attack is the best form of defense. He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.
So be a hawk and also a dove.
5. Clothes make the man. You cannot judge a book by its cover.
So be superficial—or not.
6. Familiarity breeds contempt. Home is where the heart is.
So we hate—and love—familiar experiences.
7. Great minds think alike. Fools seldom differ.
Agreeing with others is a sign of intelligence—or stupidity.