Interpersonal Attraction

Attraction and formation - Explanations of Interpersonal Attraction + studies

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  • Created by: Marie
  • Created on: 20-05-09 08:34

Explanation 1: Personal Characteristics

AO1-We are attraced to people who possess particular types of personal characteristics.

A02: Attractiveness is important because... people who are physically attractive gain other advantages, although reasearch also suggests that attractive people may be seen as egoistic and materialistic by others.

A01-Physical attractiveness: - People who are attractive possess characteristics that promote breeding success (Evolutionary significance)

A02: It appears to be universal because... there is evidence that certain similar traits are rated as attractive in different cultures (LANGLOIS and ROGGMANN, 1990)

A01- The Halo effect - If people are physically attractive, we tend to attribute other positive characteristics to them, and so are more likely to be attracted to them.

A02: Supported by... WHEELER and KIM (1997), who found that physically attractive individuals are seen as possessing traits viewed positively in that culture.

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A01- The Matching hypothesis

We are attracted to those who closely match our perceptions of our own level of physical attractiveness.

A02: Supported by... WALSTER et al. (1966), who found that at a 'computer dance', physical attractiveness was more important than matching. If participants were given choice and met beforehand, matching was more apparent (WALSTER and WALSTER, 1969)

A02: This is supported by a study of real-life couples who were rated as being more similar in terms of physical attractiveness than randomly paired couples (MURSTEIN, 1972)

A01- Personality - There are cultural differnces in what constitutes an 'attractive' personality. Extroverion is valued in Western Cultures

A02: However... FELMEE (1995) found that some initially attractive personality characteristics may become less attractive over time and this may lead to dissolution (break-up).

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Explanation 2: Evolutionary Explanations

A01- Adaptive mechanisms that evolved in the EEA (environment of evolutionary adaption) are still seen as guiding mate choice today.

A01- Evolutionarily significant characteristics - Men should seek signs of reproductive value (age + healthiness. Women should be attracted to males who have characteristics that indicate social and economic advantages. Mechanisms that evolved in EEA are still seen as guiding mate choice today.

AO2: A consquence is that... men become more concerned with sexual infidelity in their partner (risk of cuckoldry), women with emotional infidelity (possible losee of resources) - BUSS et al,. 1992

A01- Parental Investment - As males invest less (biologically) than females, males should be concerned with quantity of mates and females quality of mates.

A02: Supported by... Research evidence from personal ad (WAYNFORTH and DUNBAR, 1995) which shows that women advertise their attractiveness (signifying fertility) whereas men advertise their economic status (signifying resources).

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Studies 1: Proximity - Being in physical promixity to another person is a powerful determinant of attraction.

A02: Explained by filter theory - Proximity may act as an initial filter of relationships, and may act as both a positive and negative factoor in development

A01 - Liking - FESTINGER et al. 1950 - students who lived at the foot of the stairs had more friends than others on the same floor. SEGAL (1974) - physical promixity had stronger effect on attraction than any other characteristic.

A02: Is the promixity effect due to similarity or familiarity? - As similar people congregate together, promixity effects may simply be similarity effects. However, BYRNE (1961) found proximity to be more influential.

A01 - Disliking - EBBESEN et al. (1966) found that not only the most liked others lived close by, but also the most disliked others.

A02: This can be explained more by... people living close to us having a greater potential for engaging in behaviours that annoy us; therefore physical proximity may also increase the likelihood to disliking someone else.

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Studies 2: Familiarity

  • A01 - The mere exposure explanation was tested in a study of student residences in an Israeli university (YINON et al., 1997): the higher the level of interaction allowed by living arrangements, the more likely that students would form friendships with others within the same residential unit.

A02: However... SWAP (1977) found that repeated exposure to someone who punished a participant resulted in greater disliking.

  • A01 - MITA et al. (1977) found that participants preferred a mirror-image photograph of themselves (more familiar because they saw themselves in the mirror), while their friends liked the normal photograph for the same reason

A02: Importance of familiarity

  • Familiarity leads to predictability, which eliminates guesswork and risk
  • During exposure to a person we may become directly or indirectly conditioned (Reinforcement-affect)
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Studies 3: Similarity

Similarity of attitudes is an important ingredient in initial attraction and the formation of relationships

A02: Importance of similarity

  • Being with similar people makes us feel our own characteristics are acceptable
  • We may avoid dissimilar things because disccrepancy is uncomfortable

A01 - Similarity and attraction - Similarity of attitudes and background is important for initial attraction (NEWCOMB, 1961) and in long-term relationships (KERCKHOFF, 1974)

A01 - Dissimilarity and repulsion - Research (e.g. SINGH and TAN, 1992) has shown that whereas similiarity of attitudes leads to greater attraction, discovery of a higher proportion of dissimilarities leads to less attraction (i.e. repulsion).

A02: However... research does not always support the repulsion hypothesis. SMEATION et al. (1989) found that only similiarity was ignored.

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Studies 4 : Suitability

A01 -

  • CAMERON et al. (1977) found that men stressed status in lonely ads, whereas women tended to emphasise their physical appearance.
  • DUCK (1999), in an overview of research in this area found that personal advertisers conformed to current culltural beliefs about suitable partners.

A02 - Biology or culture?

  • Cross-cultural research (BUSS, 1989) suggests that male and female preferences are the same all over the world.
  • However, there are significant cultural and historical trends in what counts as attractive and therefore suitable.
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