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PSY220H5 Lecture Notes - Social Exchange Theory, Positive Tone, Equity Theory

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Virginia K Walker

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Interpersonal Attraction
March 14th, 2013
What attracts us to another person?
What is love?
Why do we love?
How do we maintain relationships?
Why do relationships end?
Factors that Influence Attraction
Proximity- geographical nearness; closer you are to someone, more likely it is that you will be attracted to them
Reciprocal liking
Relationship rewards
Physical attractiveness
Sometimes called propinquity
Propinquity effect
the finding that the more we see and interact with people, the more likely they are to become our
Ex. Festinger, Schachter & Back (1950)
Leon Festinger- got together with Schachter and Back and they studied formation of friendship
in 2 floor apartment building and found that people more likely to become friends if they live on
the same floor (see each other more often and more likely to interact)
Those who live around stairs or mailboxes more likely to be friends with others (more
opportunity to have interaction with others)
Actual physical distance
Functional distance
certain aspects of architectural design (i.e. building) that make it likely some people will come into
contact with each other more often than others
Ex. location of rest room, stairs, elevator, or mailboxes
Why does this happen?
Availability- by virtue of coming into contact with someone, it places them in place where they
choose who to be friends/in a relationship with; those you come in contact with are those that
become available for you to choose from
Anticipation of interaction
More contact you come in with someone, the more you expect you will interact with
them in the future
Anticipatory liking- expecting we will like those with who we have to interact with in the
Mere Exposure
The more we see certain people around, the more familiar they become, the more
familiar they are, the more we like them
I.e. new song playing over and over again and you slowly start to like it
Proximity influences how often you come in contact with certain people
Can occur in the absence of physical exposure
Ex. Internet relationships- the more you chat on the internet, looking at their
Facebook picture, it can increase your liking for that person, because of mere
Overexposure deceases liking

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Attraction to people who are like us- same beliefs, personality traits, interests, attitudes
Why is similarity important?
People who are similar to us…
Will be inclined to like us- i.e. someone who likes to do the same thing as you, you
believe that you will get along with that person
Provide us with important validation for our characteristics and beliefs- someone likes
to do what you like so you assume it must be a good thing that you are doing
Will be enjoyable to spend time with
Note that the more attracted we are to someone, the more similar we assume that person is to us
Dissimilarity can increase disliking
False consensus bias- when you assume that people share your beliefs/attitudes/positive characteristics
To the extent to which you believe others believe what you do, you interact with them and
discover otherwise
Attitude alignment- become similar overtime; we align our behaviour and attitudes with individuals to
whom we feel close
Can opposites ever attract?
Little evidence that opposites attract
Complementarity- i.e. you might be outgoing but you are attracted to those who are quiet/reserved and
they are attracted to extraverts
By interacting with someone who compliments you (what you don’t have) gives you access to
the opposite side (i.e. your extravert friend takes you out to parties which you wouldn’t go to
Some empirical evidence for complementarity; evidence not consistent
Reciprocal Liking
When you like someone and that person also likes you
Can come about via a self-fulfilling prophecy (when you hold initial belief/expectation and your belief
influences how you behave which in turn elicits responses in others which you use to confirm your initial
Ex. Curtis & Miller (1986)
Flattery & favours
Depends on attributions
Ex. Ingratiation
Effects of low self-esteem
Ex. Focus on literal meaning
Ex. Rebound relationships- deprivation means need will be more satisfying
Ex. Underestimation of how much partner values you
Self-fulfilling prophecy
Relationship Rewards
Reward Theory of Attraction
The idea that we are attracted to others who reward us, who we find rewarding, and who we associate
with reward
How you feel when you are with that person; associate person with good feelings if you feel good
around them
Evaluative conditioning
The idea that stimuli take on the valence of the surrounding situation
If the surrounding situation is positive, the stimulus takes on a positive valence;
If the surrounding situation is negative, the stimulus takes on a negative

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Physical Attractiveness
Most important for most people but least likely to admit so
Large eyes
Small nose
Small chin
Full lips
Prominent cheekbones
Narrow cheeks
WHR of 0.7 (larger hips than waist)
Strong jaw
Broad forehead
Broad shoulders
WHR of 0.9 (only when he has sufficient resources)
Prominent cheekbones
Moderately broad features
Universality in standards of beauty
Symmetry- more symmetrical an individuals’ facial features, the more attractive they are to others
“Average” features
Contrast effects- i.e. looked at magazine then you will find ordinary people less attractive (comparing them to
physically attractive people in contrast)
Matching phenomenon
The tendency for men and women to choose as partners those who are a “good match” in
attractiveness and other traits
Overtime, our partners seem more physically attractive to us
“What is beautiful is good”
Mostly applies to social competence
Attribute good social skills to good looking people; in fact, good looking people have good social skills
but it’s not because they are good looking
Misattribution of arousal
The process whereby people make mistaken inferences about what is causing them to feel the way they
Ex. Dutton & Aron (1974)
Ex. “Love on the dance floor”- being at a club with loud music, heart racing and you’re really
aroused; seeing someone at this moment and assuming you like them misattributed as
attraction to another person
Ex. “Make up” sex- angry at each other so you are aroused
What is love?
Definitions of love
Companionate love, the feelings of intimacy and affection we feel for another person when we care
Passionate love, the feeling of intense longing accompanied by physiological arousal we feel for another
Sexual attraction that distinguishes companionate and passionate love
Cultural differences but good within culture agreement- individuals see/experience love in similar way
within same culture
Sternberg’s triangular theory of love
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