Chapter 9: Attraction and Close Relationships
Being with Others: A Fundamental Human Motive
-The need to belong is a basic human motive
-Some people are so worries about how they come across that they suffer social anxiety, intense
feelings of discomfort in situations that invite public scrutiny.
-People who have a network of close social ties, in the form of friends, lovers, family members,
and coworkers, tend to be happier and more satisfied than those who are more isolated.
-In fact, people who are socially connected are also physically healthier and less likely to die a
The Thrill of Affiliation
-Need for Affiliation: The desire to establish and maintain many rewarding interpersonal
-Individuals differ in the strength of their need for affiliation, but it seems that people are motivates
to establish and maintain an optimum balance of social contact- sometimes craving the company of
others, sometimes wanting to be alone.
-People would rather celebrate together than alone
-Stanley Schachter: One condition that strongly arouses our need for affiliation is stress. External
threat triggers fear and motivates us to affiliate, particularly with others who share the same threat
-People who were expecting to get electric shocks would rather wait with people who were in the
same situation as them rather than alone
-However, when engaging in embarrassing behavior, people would rather be alone.
-Yacov Rofe: People love company in misery because of Utility. Stress increases the desire to
affiliate only when being with others is seen as useful in reducing the negative impact of the stressful
-Facing embarrassment, being with others is more likely to increase stress than reduce it.
-People facing an imminent threat seek each other out in order to gain cognitive clarity about the
danger they are in.
The Agony of Loneliness
-Shyness can arouse from different sources. It can be a personality trait, or shyness could have
developed due to failed interactions with other.
-Thus, interpersonal problems of the past can cause social anxieties about the future.
-There is some continuity- that this ‘shy’ aspect of our personalities may be predictable from our
temperament and behavior as young children.
-The problem stems from a paralyzing fear of rejection.
-Loneliness: A feeling of deprivation about existing social relations.
-Loneliness is triggered by a discrepancy between the level of social contact that a person has and
the level he or she wants.
-Loneliness is more likely to occur during the time of disruption or transition.
-Loneliest group in North America are 18-30 year olds. Loneliness seems to decline over
The Initial Attraction
-Affiliation is a necessary step in the formation of a social relationship.
-People are attracted to others with whom a relationship is rewarding.
- The rewards may be direct (attention, money, status, information), or the rewards may be
indirect, as when it feels good to be around someone beautiful, smart, funny, or who happens to be
in our presence when times are good.
-Human beings all over the world exhibit patterns of attraction and mate selection that favor the
conception, birth, and survival of their offspring.
Familiarity: Being There
-We are more likely to become attracted to someone whom we have seen and become familiar
with. The 2 basic and necessary factors in the attraction process: proximity and exposure.
The proximity Effect
-The best single predictor of whether two people will get together is nearness.
-People were most likely to become friends with residents of nearby apartments than those who
lived far away.
The Mere Exposure Effect
-Proximity does not necessarily spark attraction, but to the extent that it increases frequency of
contact, it’s a good first step.
-Robert Zajonc found that the more often people saw a novel stimulus, the more they came to like
it. He called this the mere exposure effect, the more often people are exposed to a stimulus, the
more positively they evaluate that stimulus.
-People do not even have to be aware of their prior exposures for this effect to occur.
*Familiarity can even influence our self-evaluation.
Physical Attractiveness: Getting Drawn In
-We react more favorably to other who are physically attractive rather than those who are not.
-Physically attractive men and women earn more money, and fare better than uglier people.
What is beauty?
-Some believe that certain faces are inherently more attractive than others. There are 3 sources of
evidence for this proposition.
1)There is typically a high level of agreement
2) People like faces in which the eyes, nose, lips, and other features are not too different
from the average. People like averaged faces because they are more prototypically face-like and, as
such, seem more familiar to us. Some think that symmetry is what we find attractive (because it is
associated with health, fitness, and high-fertility).
3) Babies have preference for faces considered attractive by adults. Young infants spend
more time looking at attractive faces.
-In contrast to this, some researches believe that physical attractiveness is subjective, because
people of different cultures enhance their beauty in different ways (tats, piercing, paint, fat women in
Africa are attractive).
-Also, standards of beauty change over time. The hourglass figure for women is becoming more
-Also, people often see people as more attractive after they have grown to like them.
-In fact, the more in love people are with their partners, the less attracted they are to others of the
-People feel less attractive after viewing super models of the same sex than after seeing homelier
-While exposure to highly attractive people of the opposite sex put people in a good mood, doing
the same for the same sex did just the opposite.
Why are we Blind-sided by Beauty?
-Regardless of how beauty is defined, its clear that people seen as physically attractive are at a
-We derive pleasure from being around beautiful people.
-When average-looking men and women are seen alongside someone else of the same sex, they
are rated as more attractive when the other person is good looking and as less attractive when he or
she is plain looking.
-What-is-beautiful-is-good stereotype: when people tend to associate physical attractiveness
with other desirable qualities.
-In movies, the more attractive characters were, the more frequently they were portrays as
virtuous, romantically active, and successful.
-Research shows that people who are attractive have a better social life, have more sex and have
better social skills. BUT beauty is not related to intelligence, personality, or self-esteem.
-Men who thought they were interacting with a woman who was attractive
1) formed more positive impressions of her personality
2) were friendlier in their conversation behavior.
3) The female students whose partners had seen the attractive picture were later rated by
listeners to the conversation as warmer, more confident, and more animated.
Fulfilling the prophecies of their own expectations, men who expected an attractive partner actually
The Benefits and Costs of beauty
-One problem is that highly attractive people can’t always tell if the attention and praise they
receive are due to their talent or just their good looks.
-For beautiful people, praise is hard to interpret.
-Also, attractive people have the pressure to remain attractive. (can lead to excessive dieting/
-Cultural ideal for thinness may be set early in childhood.
-Those who were good looking in university were more likely to get married, but they were not
more satisfied with marriage or more content with life.
First Encounters: Getting Acquainted
-Three characteristics of others that can influence our attraction: similarity, liking, and being hard to
Liking those who are Similar
-Research has consistently shown that people tend to associate with others who are similar to
-People who go together as friends, dates, or partners in marriage resemble each other more than
randomly paired couples.
-Bad side: By associating only with similar others, people form social niches that are
homogeneous (occupation, race, age, religion, ethnicity).
-Newcomb: The link betweem actual similarity and liking increased gradually during the school
-When partners who are close discover that they disagree on important moral issues, they bring
their views on these issues into alignment and become more similar from that point on.
-According to Rosenbaum, similarity does not spark attraction, rather dissimilarity triggers
repulsion. He says that people expect more others to be similar, which is why others who are
different grab our attention.
-Donn Byrne proposed a 2-step model that takes both reactions into account.
First, we avoid associating with others who are dissimilar
Then, amongst those who remain, we are drawn to those who are most similar.
-Chen and Douglas Kenrick found that research participants were particularly attracted to outgroup
members who expressed similar attitudes, and they were most repulsed by ingroup members who
expressed dissimilar attitudes.
-Studies show that both men and women yearn for partners who are highly attractive. But in real
life situations, where one can be rejected or accepted, people shy away from people who are out of
-Matching Hypothesis: The proposition that people are attracted to others who are similar in
-In the romantic market place, physical matching seems to occur automatically, as people seek the
best but settle for what they can get.
-Complementary hypothesis, which holds that people seek others whose needs oppose their own.
Surprisingly, the answer is no.
-When it comes to fitting mutual needs and personality traits, research shows that complementarity
does not influence attraction.