The Psychology of Attraction


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The Psychology of Attraction

  1. 2. <ul><li>The PsychFutures Research Maps are a series of digests on the most popular Psychology related topics, whereby linking to podcasts, videos, journal publications, websites and blogs; ideal if you’re looking for inspiration to kick-start your dissertations and research projects. </li></ul><ul><li>The topics are varied, including Love, Sport and Music. To view the full list and download the other Research Maps click here or go to: /page/research </li></ul>Providing One-Stop Summaries and Directions For Your Research
  2. 3. Introduction <ul><li>Do opposites attract? Or do birds of a feather flock together? Two of the most common questions asked in the psychology of attraction, but which is correct? </li></ul><ul><li>You probably know of couples who fall under each category – the timid guy who lives down the road with a dominating wife or the couple you meet at the pub every Friday night who are both as loud, sociable and generally extraverted as each other. </li></ul>
  3. 4. <ul><li>A third crucial question is ‘what makes us attractive?’ Is beauty in the eye of the beholder, or is there agreement regarding what is beautiful? It would seem that evolution and culture are two major factors in determining attractiveness. Read on to find out more. </li></ul>Introduction
  4. 5. Introduction <ul><li>The questions do not end there I’m afraid. We also need to ask what influences attraction? We do not simply find ourselves attracted to everyone we see or come into contact with. Rather, there are five influential factors in addition to physical attractiveness: 1) Proximity - liking others who are physically close to us 2) Similarity – liking others who are like us 3) Familiarity – liking those we have frequent contact with 4) Reciprocity – liking others who like us 5) Barriers – liking others we cannot have </li></ul><ul><li>Research is ongoing on this topic, and particularly on trying to answer these questions. It’s not only a ‘Popular Psychology’ topic – of significant interest to the general public – but also a subject taught on many undergraduate and postgraduate psychology degree programmes. </li></ul>
  5. 6. Introduction <ul><li>We must not forget that attraction is not solely implicated in romantic relationships. Friendships between peers and colleagues also result from initial attraction, for one reason or another. The focus of the content here however is on the former seeing as that is what most of the literature focuses on. </li></ul>
  6. 7. Research <ul><li>Note: The findings here are not exhaustive, but should support some of the claims made in the introduction. At the end of this PowerPoint doc is the list of full references where these findings have been published. Also check out the ‘Useful Books’ section where you can find further details and examples of research on this topic. </li></ul>
  7. 8. Research <ul><li>The implications of evolution and culture in perceptions of attractiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Marcus and Miller (2003) found that there is a general consensus regarding what is attractive. </li></ul><ul><li>Generally, women with youthful features – large eyes, full lips and a small nose are perceived as more attractive than those whose faces are not so baby-like. This is the case cross-culturally (Jones, 1995). However, signs of maturity are also important – prominent cheekbones and broad smiles (Cunningham et al., 2002). </li></ul>
  8. 9. Research <ul><li>As for men, masculine features are perceived highly attractive and more feminised faces are viewed more attractive by fertile and non-fertile women respectively (Little et al., 2002). </li></ul><ul><li>Average and symmetrical faces are also attractive in both sexes (Rhodes, Sumich and Byatt, 1999). </li></ul><ul><li>In cultures where food is sparse, heavier women are more desirable and vice versa (Nelson and Morrison, 2005). </li></ul><ul><li>Men and women both find warmth, vitality and status attractive in the opposite sex; a finding notified around the world (Tran et al., 2008). </li></ul>
  9. 10. Research <ul><li>Influential factors </li></ul><ul><li>Classic study by Festinger, Schachter and Back (1950) found that students who lived closer together on campus were more likely to become friends than those living apart. This indicates the significance of proximity in the initial stages of a relationship/friendship. </li></ul><ul><li>The influences of familiarity and mere exposure have been demonstrated by Moreland and Beach (1992) who set up a study whereby a woman attended a class either 5, 10 or 15 times during the term. Although the woman was merely present (not talking or interacting with the students) – she was preferred by the students who had been in the class with her on more occasions. </li></ul><ul><li>Byrne et al. (1970) found that couples on blind dates who held similar political attitudes liked each other more than those who held dissimilar views. </li></ul>
  10. 11. Research <ul><li>Do opposites attract? </li></ul><ul><li>Miller and Perlman (2009) claim that opposites do not attract and dissimilar views do not matter as long as neither partner perceive them as significant. </li></ul><ul><li>Partners may in fact be complementary rather than opposites per se. This is the case where one partner is dominant and the other submissive (Markey et al., 2003). </li></ul><ul><li>Aron et al. (2006) found that relationships which provide opportunities for one partner to grow are rewarding. So finding a partner who is competent in a skill which is novel to you can be appealing. </li></ul>
  11. 12. Useful Journals <ul><li>Journal of Applied Social Psychology </li></ul><ul><li>Journal of Personality and Social Psychology </li></ul><ul><li>Evolution and Human Behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Body Image </li></ul><ul><li>Archives of Sexual Behavior </li></ul>
  12. 13. Useful Books <ul><li>Intimate Relationships by Daniel Perlman and Rowland Miller </li></ul><ul><li>Close Relationships by Harry T. Reis and Caryl E. Rusbult. (Eds.) (2004). </li></ul><ul><li>Human Relationships by Steve Duck. (2007) </li></ul><ul><li>Attachment Theory and Close Relationships by Jeffry A. Simpson and Steven W. Rholes. (Eds.) (1998) </li></ul><ul><li>The Psychology of Physical Attraction by Viren Swami and Adrian Furnham </li></ul>
  13. 14. Experts <ul><li>Although the psychology of attraction can be considered a topic of its own, it encompasses other areas of psychology too, namely social and evolutionary psychology. Therefore, when seeking for experts on this topic do not limit your searches to those solely with expertise in relationships or love. Here is a list of some psychologists and academics whose work has focused on the study of attraction: </li></ul><ul><li>Dr. Viren Swami - a social and evolutionary psychologist from University College London and the author of The Psychology of Physical Attraction. </li></ul><ul><li>Prof. Adrian Furnham - co-author of The Psychology of Physical Attraction and lecturer at University College London. </li></ul><ul><li>Dr. Martin Tovee - reader in visual cognition at Newcastle University whose research focuses on mate selection in an evolutionary context. </li></ul><ul><li>Dr. Anthony Little - Royal Society University Research Fellow whose research focuses on faces and how they can be manipulated when studying attraction. </li></ul><ul><li>Dr. Jinsheng Kang - lecturer at Brunel University in the School of Engineering and Design whose recent projects include researching male and female body shape attractiveness. </li></ul>
  14. 15. Videos/ Audio <ul><li>Interview with Viren Swami on the Psychology of Physical Attraction </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Click here to listen </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Secrets of the Sexes Male Status Attraction </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Click here to watch </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Interview with Viren Swami on the Psychology of Physical Attraction </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Click here to listen </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Secrets of the Sexes Male Status Attraction </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Click here to watch </li></ul></ul>
  15. 16. Blogs <ul><li>eHarmonyLabs Hot Science Blog – Do birds of a feather flock together? </li></ul><ul><li>Associated Content – The Psychology of Attraction </li></ul><ul><li>BPS Research Digest – Beauty: Symmetry versus averageness </li></ul><ul><li>Science Blog – Old men chasing young women: A good thing </li></ul>
  16. 17. Articles on the Web <ul><li>Xenophilia – Trustworthy vs lustworthy : The psychology of attraction </li></ul><ul><li>Telegraph – Why short women with long legs are the most attractive </li></ul><ul><li>Science Daily – Clues to mysteries of physical attractiveness revealed </li></ul><ul><li>James C. McCroskey and Thomas A Mc.Cain – The measurement of interpersonal attraction </li></ul><ul><li>Psychology Today – The biology of attraction </li></ul><ul><li>APA – Do opposites attract of do birds of a feather flock together? </li></ul><ul><li>BBC – Opposites ‘do not attract’ </li></ul>
  17. 18. References <ul><li>Aron, A., & Aron, E. N. (2006). Romantic relationships from the perspective of the self-expansion model and attachment theory: Partially overlapping circles. In M. Mikulincer & G. S. Goodman (Eds.). Dynamics of romantic love: Attachment, caregiving, and sex (pp. 359-382). New York: Guilford Press. Byrne, D., Ervin, C. E., & Lamberth, J. (1970). Continuity between the experimental study of attraction and real-life computer dating. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 16, 157-165. Cunningham, M. R., Barbee, A. P., & Philhower, C. L. (2002). Dimensions of facial physical attractiveness: The intersection of biology and culture. In G. Rhodes & L. A. Zebrowitz (Eds.), Facial attractiveness: Evolutionary, cognitive and social perspectives (pp. 193-238). Westport, CT: Ablex. Festinger, L., Schachter, S., & Back, K. W. (1950). Social pressures in informal groups: A study of human factors in housing. New York: Harper & Brothers. Jones, D. (1995). Sexual selection, physical attractiveness, and facial neotony: Cross-cultural evidence and implications. Current Anthropology, 36, 723-748. Little, A. C., Penton-Voak, I. S., Burt, M., & Perrett, D. I. (2002). Evolution and individual differences in the perception of attractiveness: How cyclic hormonal changes and self-perceived attractiveness influence female preferences for male faces. In G. Rhodes & L. A. Zebrowitz (Eds.), Facial attractiveness: Evolutionary, cognitive and social perspectives (pp. 59-90). Westport, CT: Ablex. Marcus, D. K., & Miller, R. S. (2003). Sex differences in judgements of physical attractiveness: A social relations analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29. 325-335. Markey, P. M., Funder, D. C., & Ozer, D. J. (2003). Complementarity of interpersonal behaviours in dyadic interactions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 1082-1090. Moreland, R. L., & Beach, S. R. (1992). Exposure effects in the classroom: The development of affinity among students. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 28, 255-276. Nelson, L.D., & Morrison, E. L. (2005). The symptoms of resource scarcity: Judgements of food and finances influence preferences for potential partners. Psychological Science, 16, 167-173. Rhodes, G., Sumich, A., & Byatt, G. (1999). Are average facial configurations attractive only because of their symmetry? Psychological Science, 10 (1). Tran, S., Simpson, J. A., & Fletcher, G. J. O. (2008). The role of ideal standards in relationship initiation processes. In S. Sprecher, A. Wenzel, & J. Harvey (Eds.), Handbook of relationship initiation (pp. 487-498). New York: Psychological Press. </li></ul>