Interpersonal attraction

Essay on interpersonal attraction

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Psychology Tutor Marked Assignment 1
Unit 3: Relationships
Interpersonal attraction relates to being interested in another person and wanting to get to
know them better. There are quite a few explanations of interpersonal attraction, for
example, physical attractiveness. Many studies show that people who are physically
attractive tend to be treated better than those who are not. Landy and Sigall (1974) found
that male participants rated essays thought to be written by a more physically attractive
woman more highly. The matching hypothesis predicts that people select partners of
comparable attractiveness. This may be to maintain balance or due to fear of rejection or
because of the halo effect. The halo effect describes how the possession of one desirable
characteristic such as being physically attractive is extended so that we think the person
possesses other desirable characteristics such as intelligence and kindness. Murstein argued
that we are more likely to look for someone of a similar level of attractiveness as ourselves.
This makes us less likely to suffer rejection. Murstein studied 99 couples who were dating
and compared them with randomly selected couples. He found that the real couples were
consistently rated as alike in levels of attractiveness. Silverman (1971) confirmed these
findings in a field study, noting that the greater the degree of physical attractiveness the
more the physical intimacy was displayed. The computer dance by Walterson et al did not
find support for the matching hypothesis. Students were randomly paired at a dance and
later asked to rate their date. Physical attractiveness proved to be the most important
factor in liking rather than similarity. It was the best predictor that they would see each
other again .Mckillip and Riedel (1993) also found that pairs of friends were also fairly closely
matched in levels of attractiveness. Much of the research is highly artificial and leaves out
most of the things that people do in everyday life. In the case of some studies, the
artificiality of the study is so rigged that the physical attraction is all the participants had to
go on, for example in the computer dance by Walterson and Walterson (1969). The matching
hypothesis has been extended to include matching in terms of other highly attractive
features, such as intelligence and wealth.
Contact between two people is essential in order for attraction to take place. Physical
closeness increases the probability of interaction and acquaintance. Bossard (1932) found
that more than half of 5,000 couples who applied to get married in Philadelphia lived within a
few minutes' walk of each other. Clarke also found that 50% of the people living in Columbus
married people who lived within a walking distance of their house. Festinger et al (1950)
found that the friendships formed by students in the halls of residence were more likely to
be with those who lived on the same floor or corridor than with those from the floor below
of above. Ebbesen et al (1976) also found that most enemies lived close by. Proximity can
be psychological as well as physical which can be explained by internet relationships.
Similarity reinforces our own attitudes, reducing uncertainty and anxiety. It would appear
that similarity of values, attitudes, beliefs and ways of thinking are common indicators of

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Psychology Tutor Marked Assignment 1
strong friendships and attraction. Rubin (1973) suggested that we are attracted to those
who are similar because we are drawn to the possibility of engaging in the same activities.
This may facilitate communication if certain fundamentals are shared. We may also presume
that people who are similar to us may like us.…read more


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