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Interpersonal Attraction: Meeting, Liking, Becoming Acquainted

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1 Interpersonal Attraction: Meeting, Liking, Becoming Acquainted
Chapter 7 Interpersonal Attraction: Meeting, Liking, Becoming Acquainted This multimedia product and its contents are protected under copyright law. The following are prohibited by law: any public performance or display, including transmission of any image over a network; preparation of any derivative work, including the extraction, in whole or in part, of any images; any rental, lease, or lending of the program. Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

2 Interpersonal Attraction
Internal Determinants of Attraction: The Need to Affiliate and the Basic Role of Affect External Determinants of Attraction: Proximity and Observable Characteristics Interactive Determinants of Attraction: Similarity and Mutual Liking Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

3 Internal Determinants of Attraction
The Importance of Affiliation for Human Existence The tendency to affiliate appears to be based on neurobiological factors. Human infants seem to be born with the motivation to seek contact with those in their social environment. Newborns prefer to look at faces more than other stimuli. People respond automatically to facial cues. Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

4 Internal Determinants of Attraction
Individual differences in the need to affiliate Need for Affiliation—basic motive to seek and maintain interpersonal relationships Need appears to be a relatively stable trait When affiliation needs are not met, sadness and anger may result and cognitive functioning may be affected. Situational influences on the need to affiliate Threatening situations (e.g., natural disasters) may increase the need to affiliate. People like to affiliate with those who are experiencing the same negative event. Provides a means for social comparison Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

5 Internal Determinants of Attraction
Affect as a Basic Response System Affect—a person’s emotional state: positive and negative feelings and moods Two important characteristics are intensity (strength) and direction (positive and negative). Emotional states influence interpersonal attraction. Evolutionary factors offer an explanation regarding why affect is a basic component of human behavior. Simple discriminations between stimuli can be made Increases likelihood of survival and reproduction Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

6 Internal Determinants of Attraction
Affect consists of at least two dimensions that stimulate different parts of the brain. This explains why people can respond to situations with ambivalence. Can be an adaptive strategy since exploration may need to involve caution Additional subtypes of affect appear to exist For example, positive affect includes joy, interest, and activation. Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

7 Internal Determinants of Attraction
Affect and Attraction The direct effect of emotions on attraction Positive affect leads to liking others. Negative affect leads to disliking others. The associated effect of emotions on attraction Occurs when another person is present when one’s emotional state is aroused by something or someone unrelated to that person For example, subliminal presentation of pleasant pictures can increase expressed liking of a person one meets shortly after viewing the pictures. Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

8 Internal Determinants of Attraction
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

9 Internal Determinants of Attraction
Additional Implications of the Affect-Attraction Relationship Laughter and liking Laughter helps strengthen bonds between people. Early interactions with others involve forms of play that evoke laughter. Thought to the the origin of social interaction Sharing a humorous experience increases the likelihood of a pleasant interaction between individuals. Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

10 Internal Determinants of Attraction
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

11 Internal Determinants of Attraction
Manipulating affect to influence behavior Media advertising attempts to manipulate affect to influence consumers’ and voters’ behaviors. These attempts are often subtle and effective. Effect of affect on evaluation is greatest When the audience is uninformed When they are unaware that their emotional state is being manipulated When they are engaged in making decisions Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

12 Internal Determinants of Attraction
What are your thoughts? Why do people undergoing a negative event prefer ‘miserable’ company (i.e., people who also are experiencing misery) and not simply company? Why are humor and laughter positively related to attraction? What lessons can be learned from this research when considering where to take someone on a date? What are examples of how the media influence affect and subsequent behaviors? Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

13 External Determinants of Attraction
The Power of Proximity: Unplanned Contacts Proximity—in attraction research, the physical closeness between two individuals with respect to where they live, where they sit in a classroom, where they work, and so on Smaller physical distances are related to an increased likelihood that two people will come into repeated contact and exposure to each other, feel positive affect, and develop mutual attraction. Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

14 External Determinants of Attraction
Why does proximity matter? Repeated exposure is the key Repeated exposure (sometimes called the mere exposure effect)—Zajonc’s (1968) finding that frequent contact with any mildly negative, neutral, or positive stimulus results in an increasingly positive evaluation of that stimulus Repeated exposure without harmful effects increases familiarity, reduces uncertainty, and increases liking Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

15 External Determinants of Attraction
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

16 External Determinants of Attraction
Extensions of the repeated exposure effect The repeated exposure effect is stronger when people are not aware that the exposure has occurred. Positive affect elicited by repeated exposure to subliminal stimuli generalizes to other, similar stimuli People high in the need for structure may be more responsive to repeated exposure effects. The repeated exposure effect does not happen when people’s initial reaction to a stimulus is very negative. In this case, familiarity can result in more dislike. Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

17 External Determinants of Attraction
Applying knowledge about the effects of proximity It is possible to learn from research findings on proximity and apply them to one’s surroundings and the choices made within them. Architects have used this research to design offices and neighborhoods to promote social interaction. Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

18 External Determinants of Attraction
Observable Characteristics: Instant Evaluations First impressions can arouse strong affect and may overcome the effects of proximity. Indicates the influences of past experiences, stereotypes, and attributions that do not apply to a particular person, but yet are used in the evaluation of him or her Physical attractiveness: Judging books by their covers Physical attractiveness—combination of characteristics that are evaluated as beautiful or handsome at the positive extreme and as unattractive at the negative extreme Found to be an important factor in interpersonal attraction Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

19 External Determinants of Attraction
Physical appearance determines many social outcomes. People hold stereotypes based on people’s appearance. Most believe that attractiveness in both men and women is associated with being interesting, sociable, exciting, well-adjusted, and successful. Most assume that “what is beautiful is good” Positive stereotypes are universally related to attractiveness. However, the content of the stereotypes may differ according to which traits a culture values. Most of the common appearance stereotypes are inaccurate. However, attractiveness is associated with popularity, good interpersonal skills, and high self-esteem, which probably result from how attractive people are treated by others. Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

20 External Determinants of Attraction
Exceptions to the positive stereotypes regarding attractive people Beautiful women may be perceived as vain and materialistic Only attractive male (not female) political candidates are more likely to be elected People can be wrong about others’ perceptions of how they look. Appearance Anxiety—apprehension or worry about whether one’s physical appearance is adequate and about the possible negative reactions of other people Can lead to anger and dissatisfaction with oneself Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

21 External Determinants of Attraction
What constitutes “attractiveness?” Judgments of one’s own attractiveness may not be similar to others’ judgments, but two people usually agree when they are asked to rate a third person. Greatest agreement occurs when men are judging how attractive a women is. However, it is not easy to ascertain the precise factors that determine attractiveness ratings. Two different procedures are used to determine the facial features that are associated with attractiveness. Identifying attractive individuals and discovering what characteristics they share Creating a composite image of combined faces Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

22 External Determinants of Attraction
Perceptions of attractiveness also are affected by the situation. Due to the contrast effect, what someone has been looking at (e.g., pictures of attractive people) prior to rating the attractiveness of a stranger influences the rating given. Research in bars has found that people appear more attractive to potential partners as closing time approaches. Other aspects of appearance and behavior that influence attraction Neatness and color of one’s clothing, observable disabilities, actions that suggest mental illness, perceived age, eyeglasses, and men’s facial hair Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

23 External Determinants of Attraction
Men’s height is perceived to be related to qualities such as leadership and masculinity. People tend to elect the tallest (and most attractive) candidate who is running for president. A person’s physique is related to stereotypes that affect attraction despite no relationship between it and personality. Excess fat is the least favored physique Obesity is stigmatized and it can be associated with someone who is physically near a person who is obese. This occurs despite the fact that stereotypes associated with weight do not result in accurate predictions about an individual’s behavior. Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

24 External Determinants of Attraction
Observable differences in behavior influence attraction. A youthful walking style, a firm handshake, animated behavior, active participation in discussions, and modesty are associated with positive responses from others. Men who act in a dominant, authoritative, and competitive manner in initial encounters are liked better than those who appear submissive, noncompetitive, and less masculine. After subsequent interactions, men who are prosocial and sensitive are preferred. People who eat healthy food are judged as more likeable and morally superior compared to those who eat “junk food.” A person’s first name also plays a role in interpersonal attraction. Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

25 External Determinants of Attraction
What are your thoughts? How do internet dating and chat rooms correspond with data on the effects of physical proximity on attraction? What are the origins of stereotypes regarding people who are considered physically attractive? What are the problems with electing political candidates based on superficial qualities such as their height and attractiveness? Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

26 Interactive Determinants of Attraction
Similarity: Birds of a Feather Flock Together Similarity predicts subsequent liking Equally true for males, females, and different age, educational, and cultural groups Similarity-dissimilarity predicts attraction Similarity-dissimilarity effect—consistent finding that people respond positively to indications that another person is similar to themselves and negatively to indications that another person is dissimilar from themselves Also, similar people are judged as more intelligent, informed, moral, and better adjusted than people who are dissimilar. Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

27 Interactive Determinants of Attraction
Proportion of Similarity—number of specific topics on which two people express similar views divided by the total number of topics discussed An exception to the similarity effect is in regards to the ideal self. Finding out that someone is closer to one’s ideal self could be threatening Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

28 Interactive Determinants of Attraction
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

29 Interactive Determinants of Attraction
Explaining the effect of similarity-dissimilarity on attraction Balance Theory—formulations of Heider (1958) and of Newcomb (1961) that specify the relationships among (1) an individual’s liking for another person, (2) his or her attitude about a given topic, and (3) the other person’s attitude about the same topic Balance (liking plus agreement) results in a positive emotional state Imbalance (liking plus disagreement) results in a negative state and a motivation to restore balance Nonbalance (nonliking plus either agreement or disagreement) results in indifference Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

30 Interactive Determinants of Attraction
A second level of explanation is provided by Festinger’s (1954) social comparison theory. Similar others provide consensual validation of one’s beliefs. A third approach is an evolutionary perspective that focuses on the adaptive value of associating with similar others. Much hatred of others is based on aspects which are dissimilar to oneself It is proposed that people may be programmed to fear and hate people who are different from themselves. If these reactions were adaptive in the distant past, today they form the basis for prejudice, hate crimes, terrorism, and genocide. Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

31 Interactive Determinants of Attraction
Attraction: Progressing from Bits and Pieces to an Overall Picture Affect-Centered Model of Attraction—conceptual framework in which attraction is assumed to be based on positive and negative emotions, which can be aroused directly by another or simply associated with another and can be enhanced or mitigated by cognitive processes Initial dislike of a stranger may be based on affect, but justification of that affect and behaviors based on it are a result of cognitive factors. Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

32 Interactive Determinants of Attraction
Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

33 Interactive Determinants of Attraction
Mutual Evaluations: Reciprocal Liking or Disliking Mutual liking is an intermediate step between initial attraction and establishing a relationship. People enjoy being evaluated positively by others even when the evaluation is inaccurate or insincere. First indicators of attraction can be nonverbal: sitting next to someone, maintaining eye contact. People dislike those who dislike and negatively evaluate them. Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

34 Interactive Determinants of Attraction
What are your thoughts? Why do people continue to believe that opposites attract despite little or no evidence of this in their daily lives? Why are similarity and mutual liking important precursors to attraction? Why do they matter as much as they do to people? What needs do they serve? Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

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