Presentation on theme: "Origins of Attraction MATTHEW CORRINET. Biological: Fischer et al. (2003) “... used an fMRI... to investigate blood flow in the brains of 20 men and."— Presentation transcript:
Biological: Fischer et al. (2003) “... used an fMRI... to investigate blood flow in the brains of 20 men and women, who were madly in love, when they were asked to look at photographs of their beloved and of a neutral acquaintance” (Crane & Hannibal, p. 273). “The participants first filled out a questionnaire—the Passionate Love Scale—with statements relating to how they felt about their relationship” (p. 273). “The participants first looked at the photograph of their beloved for 30 seconds while they were scanned. Then they had a filler task to distract them before they looked at the neutral photograph for 30 seconds while being scanned. This was repeated six times” (p. 273). “The researchers found that the “brain’s reward system” was particularly active when the lovers looked at pictures of the object of their love—and they also found that the more passionate they were, the more active the brain’s reward circuitry was. This confirmed the pre-experimental self-reports, thus supporting a correlation between the attitudes towards the lover and brain activity” (p. 274).
Biological: Fischer et al. (2003): Strengths Used brain-scanning technology to identify biological correlates to attraction. Triangulated questionnaires with technology, thus allowing for an investigation of the phenomenon to be done across distinct methodologies.
Biological: Fischer et al. (2003): Limitations Correlational study does not establish cause-and-effect; in other words, are the biological aspects of attraction the cause of attraction or a result of it? Questionnaires about feelings seem to indicate a more cognitive explanation or dimension to attraction, thus reinforcing the first point: is the physiological response the origin of attraction or a result of perceived attraction towards someone else? Study seemed to only test heterosexual couples, and thus generalization to homosexual couples may be limited, although this is probably less of a concern in such a study as this, which is investigating purely biological correlates of behavior. Self-reports tend to be risky ways of gathering data, and thus questions like, “are the participants answering honestly?” or, “could demand characteristics be affecting their answers?” must be considered.
Cognitive: Markey et al. (2007) “... investigated the extent to which similarity is a factor in the way people choose partners. Using questionnaires, the researchers asked a large sample of young people to describe the psychological characteristics, values, and attitudes of their ideal romantic partner, without thinking of anyone in particular. Afterwards, they were asked to describe themselves. The results showed that the way the young people described themselves was similar to what their ideal partner looked like. In a follow-up of the study, the researchers used 106 young couples who had been together for a year. The 212 participants filled out a questionnaire about their own as well as their partner’s characteristics. The result was in line with the first investigation. The study confirmed that people want partners who are similar to themselves” (p. 276).
Cognitive: Markey et al. (2007): Strengths Large sample increases validity of study. Suggests that perception may be a factor in attraction. Relating back to the Fischer et al. (2003) study, this study suggests an alternative explanation: perhaps the peoples’ perceptions of one another led to the biological responses, rather than the other way around.
Cognitive: Markey et al. (2007): Limitations Self-report questionnaires tend to lack reliability. Study only used young Americans, thus generalizability to other age and cultural demographics may be limited. “Davis and Rusbult (2001) have shown that attraction can also foster similarity, with dating partners experiencing attitude alignment. This may mean that similarity is the result, not the cause of attraction” (p. 277). Alternatively, once again relating back to the Fischer et al. (2003) study, perhaps biological feelings foster attraction, which in turn fosters similarity. Obviously, there are many different possible factors concerning attraction, and here we thus begin to see its complexity reveal itself.
Sociocultural: Buss (1994) “... one of the largest cross-cultural studies on relationships ever undertaken...” (p. 279). “Buss (1994) gave two questionnaires regarding mate selection to more than 10,000 respondents from 37 cultures. There were many striking similarities in the responses. In 36 out of 37 cultures, women ranked financial prospects as more important than males. In all 37, men preferred younger mates, while women preferred older mates. In 23 of the cultures, males rated chastity as being more important than women did. The degree of agreement in sex differences across cultures led Buss to view mate selection preferences as universal, arising from different evolutionary selection pressures on males and females. However, there were some interesting differences: USA: Love ranked first. Iran: Love ranked third. Ranked high: education, intelligence, ambition, chastity. Nigeria: Love ranked fourth. Ranked high: good health, neatness, desire for home and children. China: Love ranked sixth. Ranked high: good health, chastity, domestic skills. South Africa (Zulu): Love ranked seventh. Ranked high: emotional stability and maturity, dependability” (p. 279).
Sociocultural: Buss (1994): Strengths Massive cross-cultural study. Extremely large sample. Represented both genders enough for comparison. Identified possible biological or evolutionary explanations for attraction, but also identified influence of culture in attraction.
Sociocultural: Buss (1994): Limitations Self-reported results tend to lack reliability. Some cultures were more represented in terms of number of respondents than others. Does not really address role of cognitive level of analysis in attraction—for instance, are we attracted to people with favorable cultural traits because they actually have those traits, or because we perceive them to have those traits?