Chapter 9—Interpersonal Attraction
Is aesthetics preference related to complexity of the stimulus
Preference increases complexity
√ Canadian India and Uganda
√ (berlyne, robbins & thompson 1974)
Preference is better for moderate levels of complexity
√ (hekkert & van wieringer 1990)
Is physical attractiveness universal or culturally variable?
Charles Darwin (1871) considered “attractive face”
Some aspects of physical attractiveness (the face only) have been found to be
1) Clear complexion
2) Bilateral symmetry
3) Average features
Skin that looks free of blemishes, blotches, sores and rashes
Indicator: our ancestor believed that blemish free skin would mire likely to
be healthy and have healthy babies
People are attracted to healthy mates.
The cosmetics industry provides people with ways to make their complexion
People have strong aversive reactions to skin conditions.
Left side of their bodies are identical to their right side of their bodies
Indicator: development of stability
Genetic mutations, pathogens, or stressors in the womb can lead to
On average, asymmetrical faces are viewed as less attractive.
Faces with averagely proportioned features are more attractive than faces
that deviate from average.
Average features are less likely to contain genetic abnormalities and are
more symmetrical. We can process any kind of stimulus that is closer to a prototype easier than
one that is further from a prototype.
• Easy processing is associated with a pleasant feeling that gets
interpreted as attractive.
Biracial: average face is most attractive face of all
Cultural Variability—Body Weight
The kinds of body weights that are perceived to be most attractive vary
considerably across cultures.
Western women who are unusually thin fit the ideal body weight.
Africa women ideal body image is heavier ‘fat’ indicates strength and beauty
‘Tranny of the Beautiful”
Physical attractive Canadians election Canadians receive 3 times as many votes
as unattractive ones
More attractive MBA’s earned more money than less attractive MBA’s
Attractive defends in misdemeanour cases are assigned lighter sentences than
less attractive ones?
Value of Attractiveness Study(Anderson, Adams, & Plaut, 2008).
(United States vs. Ghana – life outcomes due to attractiveness)
Participants indicated how satisfied they were with various life outcomes
(e.g. their career, friendships, abilities, etc.).
Physically attractive Americans were more satisfied with their lives—
positive correlations between satisfaction and attractiveness.
Physically attractive Ghanaians were not more satisfied with their lives—
negative correlations between satisfaction and attractiveness.
The “Tyranny of the Beautiful” may be largely restricted to independent cultural
relational mobility, has implications for the basis of relationships.
• This affects how we form and view relationships.
• Relational mobility can be either high or low, and parallels
approximately with independence and interdependence.
In individualistic cultures
promoting independent selves, people typically have much freedom in deciding with
whom they will have relationships.
The social environment presents many opportunities for people to
create new social ties.
They have more flexibility in deciding whether or not to associate
with someone not in their in-group. This is referred to as high relational mobility.
promoting interdependent selves, people have less freedom in deciding who they
have relationships with.
The social environment does not provide very many opportunities to
create new relationships.
Significant relationships come from various out-groups, and such in-
groups are not chosen —they exist by default.
This is referred to as low relational mobility.
Propinquity effect : People are more likely to befriend people they interact with
MERE EXPOSURE AND SIMILARITY ATTRACTION EFFECT
A couple of mechanisms:
Mere exposure effect = a culturally universal mechanism whereby the
more we are exposed to a stimulus, the more we are attracted to it
Interpersonal attraction (propinquity and mere exposure) –
Segal, 1974 Maryland police (Segal, 1974) alphabetical order of
friends chosen, last names played a role in choosing friends
Other influences: personalities, backgrounds and religious beliefs
Similarity-attraction effect = a non-universal mechanism whereby
people are attracted to others if they share many similarities (attitudes,
economic backgrounds, religion, social backgrounds)
(heine et al 2007) Similarity -attraction effect –Canadians better
liked a stranger they considered very similar to themselves, Japanese
attitudes toward strangers were unaffected by perceived similarity
reason maybe because self-esteem
Benefits of Attractiveness
In cultures with high relational mobility:
Lots of opportunities for people to seek new interactions
Thus beneficial to attract potential new relationship partners
In cultures with low relational mobility
Much more stable relationship networks
Characteristics that attract people are relatively less useful
Friends and Enemies HIGH RELATIONAL MOBILITY LOW RELATIONAL MOBILITY
1. People choose there own in- 1. people aren’t likely to be able to
group members choose in-groups or in-group
2. They can opt to avoid people who members
can be enemies 2. Enemies are likely to emerge
3. Independent people within
- 3. Interdependent
Adam 2003 (Ghana vs. American friendships)
Americans(high relational mobility) have a greater # of friends than
Ghanaians (low relational mobility)
Ghanaians believe having a lot of friends is “foolish” because they are only
good for practical support (financially, social needs)
Westerners say they don’t have enemies because they avoid people they
Ghanaians view “enemyships” as a natural state of life.
Romantic love is an evolutionary adaptation to ensure that children had
adequate resources and protection also known as “parental love”
Romantic love is a universal.
Marriages being based on romantic love is NOT
universal (arranged marriages)
• Highest in Quebec (51%)
Comparison of quality of ones own romantic relationship with peoples Romantic
• Canadians quality of their own romantic relationships to fit superior
to those of other people
• A similar bias hold for Asian Canadians and Japanese but is smaller
• Are more common in cultures with extended family systems (India)