Factors affecting attraction - Self Disclosure

  • Created by: frankie11
  • Created on: 26-04-19 10:09


Attraction: the action or power of evoking an interest or liking of somebody, whether this is on a friendship level or a romantic level.

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-          Self-Disclosure: we tend to like people who self-disclose to us and we self-disclose more to people we like. This is because it seems to be an indication of trust, suggesting that this personal information will stay between the two individuals.

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Social Penetration Theory

-          Social Penetration Theory: Altman and Taylor suggest that as the relationship develops, the breadth and depth of inter-personal communication will increase from a shallow level to a more intimate level too.

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Social Penetration Theory

-          Breadth: the types of topics that can be discussed will increase, as certain topic areas may not be appropriate until a certain level of friendship.

-          Depth: the detail and level of information of topics will increase, including information which may be emotionally painful such as past relationships.

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-          Reciprocity: relationships will only develop if partners are both active in self-disclosing and responding in an appropriate manner.

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-          Attributions: these are the underlying motivations for self-disclosure that each partner considers. If an individual is seen to be self-disclosing personal information to anybody then they are seen as less attractive because we feel less special. However, if they only self-disclose to one person then this will build trust and develop the relationship.

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-          Appropriateness: while self-disclosing is thought to be good for the development of relationships, breaking social norms or revealing too much information too early can make an individual less attractive.

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Evaluative Research - Spreecher and Hendrick (2004

-          Spreecher and Hendrick (2004): did a longitudinal observation of students on dates, looking closely at their self-disclosure. They found that men and women self-disclosed at a similar level. They also found that higher levels of self-disclosure positively correlated with the measures of the quality of the relationship, based on factors such as satisfaction, love and commitment. This suggests that self-disclosure is reciprocal, with both partners needing to self-disclose. It also suggests that self-disclosure can help with increasing attraction.

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Evaluative Research - Spreecher and Hendrick (2004

-          However, much of the research on self-disclosure is correlational, meaning that it is difficult to establish a cause and effect relationship. It may be that we self-disclose more to people we are attracted to. Or there might be a third factor, such as shared interests which may increase self-disclosure and attraction.

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Building Evaluations

-          It is generally thought that women are better communicators and are more willing to share more intimate information sooner in a relationship. However, this is an example of alpha bias, exaggerating gender differences, because Spreecher and Hendrick’s study suggests that men and women disclose information at the same level.


-          This theory may be culturally bias and a reflection of western individualistic behaviour in relationships. Research by Tang (2013) found that in collectivist Chinese cultures, people were more satisfied in a relationship when there were lower levels of self-disclosure. This suggests that self-disclosure is not an etic construct.

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