Matching Hypothesis

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What is Matching Hypothesis?

The matching hypothesis is the idea that we form relationships with those of a similar level of physical attractiveness to ourselves. It argues that we do not go for the best possible available partner to avoid rejection and that instead who choose the best possible partner who will not reject us. 

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What is the Halo Effect?

The Halo effect, which was suggested by Feigner (1992), is perceiving attractive people to have other good characteristics i.e. being sexually warmer, or having strong social skills, without actually having an evidence to suggest so

This is important in the formation of relationships, because it makes us believe that we are getting a better partner. 

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Research Support

Murstein (1972) carried out a study comparing 99 "real" couples to randomly matched couples. He asked participants to rate the physical attractiveness of the couples and found that the "real" couples were consistently rated as more alike in terms of physical appearance, than the random couples

This study is supported by Silverman (1971) who looked at couples in bars, as well McKillip and Reidel (1983), who found that the theory can also be applied to friendships.

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Challenging Research

Walster (1966) in his computer dance study, asked students to fill out a "getting to know you" questionnaire. He told participants told them that they would then be matched with a date for a dance, when in fact, participants were randomly matched. 

Walster found that it was the attractiveness of the other person that was the determing factor of a second date, with little significance to the attractiveness of themselves. 

However, this study has generalisation issue as it was only carried out on students. 

There are also ethical issues of deception.

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Issues, Debates and Approaches


Although the Matching Hypothesis is not quite reductionist as it does consider some social aspects, it's clearly limited due to the focus on physical appearance.

Exception to the Rule

Leonard (1975) said that individuals with low self-esteem will not like those who have similar levels of attractiveness to themselves, as they deem themselves as less attractive.

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