Attraction: A force that draws people together.
Attraction is broader than simple sexual
attraction. Attraction also encompasses the
feeling of liking towards friends, and having
positive thoughts towards others.
Two forms of interpersonal attraction are
friendship and love.
Attraction as an Attitude- an orientation
toward or away from a person that consists of a
cognitive structure of beliefs and knowledge
about the person, affect felt and expressed
toward him or her, and behavioral tendencies to
approach or avoid that person.
Life is simpler and attraction is greater when people
and things are in harmony
Research indicates attitude alignment as support of this
theory (see page 25)
Two stimuli are associated through pairing and
eventually through association both stimuli elicit the
Attraction is based on rewards and punishments
The Power of Proximity
Extensions of the Repeated Exposure Effect
Applying Knowledge about the effects of proximity
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.
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
Repeated exposure without harmful effects increases
familiarity, reduces uncertainty, and increases liking
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.
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.
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
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, welladjusted, 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.
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
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
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
Perceptions of attractiveness also are affected by the
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
Neatness and color of one’s clothing, observable disabilities,
actions that suggest mental illness, perceived age, eyeglasses,
and men’s facial hair
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
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 pro-social 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.
What are your thoughts?
How do internet dating and chat rooms correspond
with data on the effects of physical proximity on
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?
This research was conducted on the heels of
physical attractiveness research and it
proposed that in a more realistic
situation, individuals would be more likely
to select a date more like themselves.
When the possibility of rejection was included in
the scenario, test subjects tended to select potential
dates more similar to them
The older a test subject was the more likely they
were to select dates by a different standard.
According to the Oedipus complex, the mother
becomes the first love object for the male child.
These feelings are eventually suppressed
By adolescence, when the male is free to fall in love, he selects
a mate that possesses the qualities of his mother.
According to the Electra complex, the father becomes
the first love object for the female child.
These feelings are eventually suppressed
Eventually, the female adolescent seeks a mate with the
qualities of her father.
Physical attraction is the key factor determining
Physical attraction includes such attributes as facial
structure, tallness, figure, breasts, etc.
Some aspects of beauty appear to be cross-cultural.
Both British and Japanese men consider women with
large eyes, high cheekbones, and narrow jaws to be
There is a stereotype in our society that men prefer larger
breasts. In essence, the bigger the better.
While there is some support for this, one study found that
people seem to have an exaggerated idea of the sizes the
other gender actually prefers.
This tends to be a cultural phenomena. While some
cultures value “plumpness”, there is great pressure in our
society to be slender.
In today’s society, most college aged men believe that
their build is close to what women are seeking, while
women feel that they (women) are heavier than what men
In studies…men actually prefer women to be heavier
than women expect, and women expect men to be
somewhat thinner than men assume.
Women place greater emphasis than men on traits like
vocational status, earning potential, expressiveness,
kindness, consideration, dependability and fondness
Men give more consideration to youth, physical
attractiveness, cooking ability and frugality.
Cross-cultural studies have discovered similar
Elaine Walster and associates
This finding was true for both the male and female
The blind date was a short one-time shot and
researchers did acknowledge that other factors may
become more important if there were more time to
Attractive people tend to be treated more positively by
We judge attractive people as
popular, intelligent, mentally healthy and fulfilled.
We expect attractive people to be persuasive and hold
prestigious jobs. We even expect them to be good
parents and have stable marriages.
Matching Hypothesis: The view that people generally
seek to develop relationships with people who are
similar to themselves in attractiveness and other
attributes, such as attitudes.
Researchers have found that people who are dating
steadily, engaged or married tend to be matched in
physical attractiveness. Young married couples even
tend to be matched in weight.
Similarity in attitudes and tastes is a key contributor to
initial attraction, friendships, and love relationships.
However, women appear to place a greater emphasis
than men do on attitude similarity as a determinant of
Men seem to value attitude similarity in terms of
sexuality rather than religious attitudes whereas
women find religious attitudinal similarity to be more
We tend to develop relationships with individuals in
close proximity to us. This makes sense as we are more
likely to interact with individuals in closer proximity.
People who live closer together also tend to have
Reciprocity: The tendency to return feelings and
attitudes that are expressed about us.
Sexual Orientation: The directionality of one’s romantic
or erotic interests—that is, whether one is sexually
attracted to, and interested in forming romantic
relationships with, people of the other or the same
Heterosexual: Referring to people who are sexually
aroused by, and interested in forming romantic
relationships with, people of the other gender.
Homosexual: Referring to people who are sexually
aroused by, and interested in forming romantic
relationships with, people of the same gender.
Bisexual: A person who is sexually aroused by, and
interested in forming romantic relationships with,
people of either gender.
Psychodynamic: Unresolved oedipal or electra
complexes lead to identification with the opposite
Learning theory: Early reinforcement of sexual behavior
can influence one’s sexual orientation.
Genetic factors: Researchers have found evidence for
possible genetic factors.
Sex Hormones: Sex hormones may play a role in sexual
orientation via both activating and organizing effects.
Ultimately, sexual orientation may be explained by a
combination of factors (genetic, hormonal and