Attraction & Intimacy
Nov. 22 , 2012
Facts about Attraction!
- Basic facts about attraction:
o Physical proximity plays a large role in attraction and relationship formation
o We like those who are physically attractive
o We like other who are similar to us
Physical characteristics, psychological characteristics (attitudes, education, age, cultural
(1) Classical Conditioning
- UCS UCR
o No conditioning involved; this happens automatically. (Food and salivating)
- CS nothing (ringing bell.. nothing happens)
- CS + UCS UCR
o Dog starts salivating for food when ringing the bell AND showing food.
o This continues to happen.
- CS CR (conditioned stimulus to conditioned response)
- Nice meal Pleasant feeling
- Ronaldo nothing (Ronaldo not associated with anything; but every time you have food and Ronaldo is
present you will associate it with the pleasant feeling)
- Ronaldo + Nice meal Pleasant feeling
- Ronaldo Pleasant feeling
- Study by Griffit: attraction to strangers and difference of room temperature. Had participants sit in lab,
two conditions: one condition is room temperature; other condition the room is hot and humid (makes you
uncomfortable). Participants given two types of questions; one group received a questionnaire that was
similar to them on 25% of the attitudes. Other group more similar. Asked who do you like more? Liked the
group who was MORE than 25% similar.
- Found participants who were sitting in room temperature liked both groups more than the other. They
associated positive feeling with the person that they were reading about. They’re more forgiving when
they’re reading about someone who is dissimilar to them. They still like someone who is more similar to
them MORE than they like someone who isn’t.
Conditioning & Attraction
- Reinforcement theorists and the three facts regarding attraction:
o Proximity increases the chances of classical conditioning
People you go to university with/are in closer to you are more likely to be compared to
other experiences (conditioned)
o It is pleasant to look at attractive people. We associate the pleasant feeling with the attractive
o Similar people confirm our views. That makes us feel good and those feelings become associated
with the person.
Someone who has the same attitude, we are less likely to have conflict with that person
because we like them.
(2) Social Norms
- There are two different sets of rules that govern giving and receiving benefits in relationships (Clark &
o Exchange relationships
Benefits are given with expectation of receiving comparable benefits in return Not necessarily people we are close with, but people we interact with on a
regular basis. “I help you in exchange that you help me.”
o Communal relationships
Type of relationship we have with our family or loved one. It is much closer. The
difference between the two is not just that we do more for people we are in a communal
relationship with, but you care for them. Quality beats quantity here. You help not
because you expect something in return. You want to express your concern and that you
Benefits are given in response to the other’s needs or to demonstrate special concern for
You also do a lot for your family (paying for children’s education; less likely to pay for
your friends education)
We like those people who follow the norms that have to do with your relationship with
them. (Friends do what you expect, we do what they expect). We like our family when
they do things because they care and they enjoy being with you.
- Clark and Mills (1979) study
o Male participants worked on a word task creating words from letter tiles
o Attractive confederate in another room
o One condition told that this attractive student is new to the university and she wants to meet
people cause she doesn’t know anyone
o One condition: this student is very busy. Couldn’t come any other time. After experiment her
husband is going to pick her up.
o Cover story to create either communal or exchange relationship expectancy
o After task participants were asked to transfer their extra letter tiles to the woman (all participants
agreed to give them to her)
o The woman either transferred her credits or thanked the participant
o Point of experiment is to accumulate as many points as possible.
o Participants rated how much their liked the woman
o They found participants like the woman significantly more in a communal condition (when she
doesn’t know anyone and wants to meet people, and when she just thanks them.. just saying thank
you allows some idea that oh, maybe I can start a conversation with her later!). They didn’t like
her as much if she transferred her credit to them. (It’s clear what this relationship is, she’s
married, there’s no chance.) We like those who follow norms within a relationship that matches
Social Norms Approach
- Social norms approach and three facts regarding attraction:
o We cannot adhere to the norms of communal and exchange relationship unless we come into
contact with the other person
o This approach has little to say about physical attractiveness
No evidence to say because someone’s attractive that we’ll follow norms.
o We like those with similar attitudes because the other can best understand us and we can best
understand the other
Married couples: if you both think that the same things should be valued. When people
follow different norms, you don’t get along as well.
(3) Self-Evaluation Maintenance
- People strive to improve their self-esteem through (Tesser & Collins, 1988):
o There are various processes we engage in, in order to increase the sense of positive self
o Reflection process
Happens when you are with someone who is perceived to be an attractive person. You
bask in their glory and you feel better about yourself. You walk into a party with a good looking, highly educated person. Even though you didn’t contribute to this person’s
success, you feel