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Attraction and Intimacy Social Psychology Dr. Leslie Case, BCBA Attraction and Intimacy: Liking and Loving Others.

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Presentation on theme: "Attraction and Intimacy Social Psychology Dr. Leslie Case, BCBA Attraction and Intimacy: Liking and Loving Others."— Presentation transcript:

1 Attraction and Intimacy Social Psychology Dr. Leslie Case, BCBA Attraction and Intimacy: Liking and Loving Others

2 Attraction and Intimacy The Importance of Connection Humans have a need to belong Belonging has evolutionary roots –Increases ability to hunt game, erect shelter –For heterosexual couples, can lead to children, whose survival is boosted by nurturing of two bonded parents We tend to feel healthier and happer when we do belong

3 Attraction and Intimacy The Importance of Connection Actual, or hoped-for, close relationships preoccupy thinking, color our emotions People rejected are at risk for depression Losing a love relationship may leave one jealous, distraught, bereaved, in pain, lonely, or withdrawn Reminders of death, such as 9/11, heighten our need to connect and belong

4 Attraction and Intimacy Ostracism Activates the same portion of the brain as physical pain (bottom pg. 425) People respond with depressed mood, anxiety, hurt feelings, efforts to restore relationship, and eventual withdrawal Makes people more likely to aggress upon others Makes people more likely to conform to others’ wrong judgments

5 Attraction and Intimacy Friendships: Proximity Interaction With repeated interaction, we might like almost anyone who has roughly similar characteristics and who reciprocates our affection Anticipation of interaction also increases liking Mere exposure We tend to better like thing and people we have been repeatedly exposed to –Advertisers use this phenomenon Occurs even when we are unaware of the exposure © Rick Smolan/Stock Boston © Paul Lau © Catherin Karnow/Woodfin Camp © David R. Frazier / Folio, Inc.

6 Attraction and Intimacy Friendship: Physical Attractiveness Attractiveness and dating –A young adult’s physical attractiveness is a good predictor of how frequently he/she dates, particularly for women –In opinion polls, men tend to put more emphasis on the importance of appearance in a mate –In a study of 752 university students, students were randomly paired for a dance, after taking personality and aptitude tests. Many factors were analyzed, but the only factor that predicted liking was physical attractiveness. This was true for both women and men.

7 Attraction and Intimacy Friendship: Physical Attractiveness The matching phenomenon –The tendency for men and women to choose as partners those who are a “good match” in attractiveness and intelligence –People generally approach those whose physical appearance roughly matches theirs –Those couples who are closely matched are more likely to have fallen “deeply in love” when surveyed later

8 Attraction and Intimacy Friendship: Physical Attractiveness The matching phenomenon –When couples are “mismatched”, generally the less attractive person has compensating qualities –Men typically offer wealth and status and seek youth and attractiveness, women more often do the reverse Personal ads in which men advertise income and education and women advertise youth and looks receive more responses

9 Attraction and Intimacy Friendship: Physical Attractiveness The physical-attractiveness stereotype –The presumption that physically attractive people possess other socially desirable traits as well –Attractive people are kinder, more intelligent and successful, have better social skills, happier, warmer

10 Attraction and Intimacy Friendship: Physical Attractiveness The physical-attractiveness stereotype –When students rate before and after photographs of cosmetic surgery patients, they rate the patients not only as more physically attractive, but also kinder, more sensitive, more sexually responsive, more likeable –On job interviews, attractiveness and grooming affect impressions of job candidates. This helps explain why attractive people, overall, have more prestigious jobs and make more money

11 Attraction and Intimacy Friendship: Physical Attractiveness The physical-attractiveness stereotype –Interviewers were asked to rate individuals on a scale of 1 (homely) to 5 (strikingly attractive) –It was found that for every point one goes up, it corresponds to $1988 (Canada) to $2600 (U.S. men) to $2150 (U.S. women) in annual salary

12 Attraction and Intimacy Friendship: Physical Attractiveness The physical-attractiveness stereotype –Self-fulfilling prophecy: because of this stereotype, attractive people are valued and favored, and thus may develop more social self- confidence –Thus, the stereotype may, on some level, become true

13 Attraction and Intimacy Friendship: Physical Attractiveness The ugly side of attractiveness –Attractive people may suffer unwelcome sexual advances –People of their own gender may resent them –Uncertainty over whether people are responding to their performance or inner qualities, or merely their looks –Those who can succeed based only on looks may not develop themselves in other ways

14 Attraction and Intimacy Who is attractive What is considered attractive varies with culture and time Despite such variance, there is strong agreement both within and across cultures about who is and is not attractive The most attractive faces are perfectly average –Computer composites that average many faces are rated as more attractive than any individual face

15 Attraction and Intimacy Who is attractive Perfectly symmetrical faces are considered attractive –If you could merge either half of your face with it’s mirror image, you would be considered more attractive

16 Attraction and Intimacy Who is attractive Evolutionary psychologists explain attractiveness in terms of reproductive strategy They assume that beauty signals biologically important information: health, youth, and fertility –Over time, men who preferred fertile looking women out-reproduced those who preferred prepubescent or post-menopausal women –Women who preferred male traits that signified an ability to provide and protect resources would pass on their genes as well

17 Attraction and Intimacy Who is attractive Men everywhere have felt most attracted to women whose waists are 30% narrower than their hips –This is a shape associated with peak fertility –Circumstances that reduce a woman’s fertility- malnutrition, pregnancy, menopause- also change her shape Women also prefer a waist-to-hip ratio in men showing health and vigor –During ovulation, women prefer men with masculinized features

18 Attraction and Intimacy Who is attractive Social comparison: What is attractive to you depends on your comparison standards –Example: Young men who had just been watching “Charlie’s Angels” ranked a female picture as less attractive than those who hadn’t been watching the show –Men who have recently gazed at centerfolds rate average women and even their own wives as less attractive –We tend to rate ourselves as uglier after having seen an attractive person, particularly women

19 Attraction and Intimacy Who is attractive The attractiveness of those we love –We perceive likeable people as attractive –The more in love someone is, the more they find their partner attractive –The more in love someone is, the less attractive they find all others of the opposite sex

20 Attraction and Intimacy Do birds of a feather flock together? More like “birds that flock together are of a feather” –Friends, couples, and spouses more likely to share common attitudes, beliefs, and values The greater the similarity between husband and wife, the happier the marriage –We tend to better like those who are similar to us and hold similar values, or those we perceive as similar The desire for similar mates outweighs the desire for beautiful mates –Dissimilar attitudes increase dislike more so than similarity increases liking

21 Attraction and Intimacy Do opposites attract? It is commonly believed that opposites attract because they “complement” each other –Example: A person who is sociable is a nice compliment to a person who is shy Years of research demonstrates this is not the case Sometimes as a relationship progresses, some complementarity may evolve over time

22 Attraction and Intimacy Liking those who like us Another person liking us will cause us to return the appreciation –Finding out someone likes us tends to awaken our friendship or romantic interest in him/her We are sensitive to the slightest hint of criticism –Students like better someone who says 8 positive things about them than 7 positives and 1 negative

23 Attraction and Intimacy Liking those who like us Attribution –Flattery has a positive effect We warmly receive both the flattery and the one who delivers it –Unless we know that the flattery isn’t true Makes us lose respect for the flatterer, and wonder what their motives are –Our attributions as to why we are with someone have an effect If we attribute we are with someone for external reasons (such as the experiment on 448), we express less love for partners and less likelihood that the relationship will lead to marriage

24 Attraction and Intimacy Liking those who like us Self-esteem and attraction –Another’s approval is especially rewarding after we have been deprived of approval An experimenter damaged self-esteem of some women by giving them an unfavorable analysis of their personality. The women then rated several people, including an attractive male who had asked them on a date right before the experiment. Those who had experienced the damaged self- esteem rated the man as more attractive. –Explains why some people fall in love on the rebound from another relationship

25 Attraction and Intimacy Liking those who like us Gaining another’s esteem –We like someone even better if they initially disliked us, then gradually changed their evaluation of us from negative to positive –Nice words may have more credibility coming from someone who initially didn’t like us –Because of this, relationships are better when people are honest and express both positive and negative emotions, verses being “nice” all of the time

26 Attraction and Intimacy Relationship Rewards Reward theory of attraction: The theory that we like those whose behavior is rewarding to us or whom we associate with rewarding events –It feels good to hang out with them If a relationship gives us more rewards than costs, we will like it. –Particularly so if the relationship is more profitable than other relationships we could be in It is less probable that we will like someone we interact with during unpleasant times –When we are in a relaxed setting, we are more likely to like others in that setting

27 Attraction and Intimacy Love Many different types of love Very difficult for social psychologists to define and quantify Psychologist Robert Sternberg views love as a triangle, with the three sides being passion, intimacy, and committment

28 Attraction and Intimacy Theory of Love

29 Attraction and Intimacy Love Passionate love: a state of intense longing for union with another Passionate lovers are absorbed in one another, feel ecstatic at attaining their partner’s love, and are disconsolate on losing it Involves a roller coaster of emotions © Joe Polillio

30 Attraction and Intimacy Theory of passionate love Any given state of arousal can be steered into any of several emotions, depending on how we attribute the arousal Two-factor theory of emotion: Arousal x it’s label=emotion Passion is a revved-up state that is labeled “love”

31 Attraction and Intimacy Theory of passionate love If a man is turned on, and sees another woman, he (mis)attributes some of his arousal to her If a man is aroused by fear and then sees a woman, he (mis)attributes the arousal to attraction towards her –An experiment had an attractive young woman approach men who had just crossed a narrow, wobbly, 450-long suspension walkway hanging 230 feet above the rocky Capilano River. She took a “survey,” and then gave her phone number and invited them to call to get the survey results. Significantly more men called than when she approached men who crossed a low, solid bridge.

32 Attraction and Intimacy Theory of passionate love Scary movies, roller-coaster rides, and physical exercise have similar effects Couples who do exciting (aka stimulating/arousing) things together report having the best relationships Couples report higher satisfaction with their overall relationship immediately after doing an arousing (physically demanding) task

33 Attraction and Intimacy Variations in Love: Culture 89% of cultures have some concept of romantic love Some cultures, like those practicing arranged marriages, love tends to follow rather than precede marriage Until recently, in the U.S., marital choices were strongly influenced by considerations of economic security, family background, and professional status

34 Attraction and Intimacy Variations in Love: Gender Though people commonly believe that women fall in love more easily, it is actually men who do –Men are also less likely to end a premarital relationship and more likely to fall out of love more slowly. Women in love are more likely to report feeling euphoric, giddy, and carefree in love

35 Attraction and Intimacy Companionate Love The affection we feel for those with whom our lives are deeply intertwined A deep affectionate attachment Less of a roller coaster ride of emotions than passionate love Often what happens when passionate love slows down © Rob Nelson/Black Star

36 Attraction and Intimacy Companionate Love Represents a growing importance in factors such as shared values May trigger a period of disillusionment when passionate love “cools” –Higher divorce rates at this point –Those who divorce due to this often come to feel empty as they miss the attachment of companionate love

37 Attraction and Intimacy Companionate Love May be an adaptive phenomenon, in that if children are present by this point, they would not receive good care if their parents are focused only on each other Some of the passionate love renews for those married more than 20 years, particularly as they become “empty nesters”

38 Attraction and Intimacy What enables close relationships? Attachment –A bond –Starts from infancy and our dependence as newborns Some elements common to all loving attachments: –Mutual understanding –Giving and receiving support –Valuing and enjoying being with loved one Passionate love adds: –Physical affection –Expectation of exclusiveness –Intense fascination with loved one

39 Attraction and Intimacy Attachment styles Secure attachment: Attachments rooted in trust and marked by intimacy Avoidant attachment: Relationship style marked by dismissive detachment Insecure attachment: Attachments marked by anxiety, ambivalence, and possessiveness

40 Attraction and Intimacy What enables close relationships? Equity: A condition in which the outcomes people receive from a relationship are proportional to what they contribute to it –If you lend me your class notes, later I’ll lend you mine Often unspoken terms of a friendship –When people are good friends or in love, they stop calculating what is “owed” to each other We like to believe that positive events are voluntary

41 Attraction and Intimacy What enables close relationships? Perceived equity –Those in an equitable relationship more content –Those who perceive inequity feel discomfort The one who has the better deal feels guilty The one who senses a raw deal feels irritated Given the self-serving bias, the one who has the better deal is less likely to perceive that they have the better deal –Household chores and parenting are big areas of inequity in marriages Contributes to marital dissatisfaction, and sometimes divorce

42 Attraction and Intimacy What enables close relationships? Self disclosure: revealing intimate aspects of oneself to others –Trust displaces anxiety –We are free to open ourselves without fear of losing the other’s affection –People reveal more and more of themselves as the relationship grows –Leads to feelings of love

43 Attraction and Intimacy Self-disclosure We disclose more –when distressed, angry, or anxious –to people with whom we anticipate further interaction –when we have a secure attachment style –disclosure reciprocity effect: we disclose more to those who have been open with us –women more likely to disclose fears and weaknesses


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