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Lecture 6

Lecture 6 - Attraction and Relationships

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Emily Impett

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PSY220H5 – Social Psychology Lecture 6 – October 24, 2013 Attraction and Relationships Plan for Today - Attraction: What sparks our initial interest in someone? - Close relationships: Do we need them (yes!) and why? - Romantic relationships: How do we make love last? Attraction Topic: - Attraction: What sparks our initial interest in someone? Four Factors that Influence Attraction - Proximity - Similarity - Physical attractiveness - Physiological arousal Factor 1: Proximity - How close we are (in physical distance) to someone - “Contrary to popular belief, I do not believe that friends are necessarily the people you like best; they are merely the people who got there first.” - Sir Peter Ustinov Westgate Housing Study - Looks at the physical proximity and formation of friendships - Married MIT students randomly assigned to one of 17 buildings in a housing complex isolated from the rest of the city o Nearly all these people were strangers when they met at their buildings - Virtually no one knows anyone in the complex beforehand - Simple question: Who ends up liking whom? o They were asked to name their 3 closest friend - Results: o 65% of the residents had at least one friend who lived in their own building o But those living in the same building represented only 5% of all residents  People were more likely to be friends with people within their housing complex as opposed to different buildings o 41% - at least one friend who lived next door How Does It Work? - We have an increased opportunity to meet people who live close to us o We need to make initial contact with people if we are interested in them o Proximity make it more possible to make initial contact o Proximity ups our chances of meeting people (people who can eventually like or dislike a lot) - We tend to like novel stimuli more after we have been repeatedly exposed to them (mere exposure) Mere Exposure Effect - The tendency for novel (new) stimuli to be liked more after we have been repeatedly exposed to them PSY220H5 – Social Psychology Lecture 6 – October 24, 2013 Correlational Examples - Correlation between frequency of exposure and how much we like items in a given domain o Apples > grapefruits; broccoli > leeks o Venezuela > Honduras (among people) - We cannot rely on this correlational research.  we don’t know if exposure increases us to like something or vise versa o Does exposure  liking? o Does liking  exposure? Better Correlational Evidence - People prefer letters in the English alphabet that appear more often in words o Hard to imagine that there are so many Es and Rs because people like those letters - We tend to prefer letters in our own names o The name came first (from our parents), then the preference for the letters o Exposure leads to liking in this case Experimental Evidence - Kadirga - Afworbu - Many studies have shown that randomly assigning people to see more of a stimulus more than others leads for them to like that stimulus more - We find evidence of the mere exposure effect Do We Select Dogs Who Look Like Us? - Because we are exposed to our faces everyday, it is possible that we might choose dogs or other pets that look like us - Some researchers wanted to see whether empirical evidence exist for this claim Dog Study - Researchers took a set of pictures of 45 dogs and their owners photographed separately - Judges shown a set of three pictures o One owner, that owner’s dog, and one other dog - Task for participants: pick the true match o Choose what was the true owner of the dog - Results o Observers were better able tan chance to match the owner with their dog o Observers correct 64% of the time  People were better able to match the owner with his or her own dog o Results due to selection, not convergence not due to becoming more similar over time (ability to pair a person with their pet was not associated with length of dog ownership)  We tend to be attracted to people or even pets, the more we’ve been exposed to them Factor 2: Similarity - Do opposites attract or do birds of a feather flock together? Empirical Evidence - 1,000 married couples provided information about themselves on 88 characteristics PSY220H5 – Social Psychology Lecture 6 – October 24, 2013 - Average similarity of couples was compared to similarity of random generated “couples” - Actual couples more similar on 66 out of 88 - Most similarity for social class and religion - Interracial and interethnic couples are more similar to each other in personality traits than couples of the same race and ethnicity o Could be because people make up, or compensate, for having no similarities with similar people by seeking out similarities from other dimensions o - Possible compensation for dissimilarity on one dimension by seeking out similarity on others How Does It Work? - Similarity facilitates smooth interactions (similar attitudes, less conflicts of interest) o We know that conflicting interests in relationships are inevitable - We expect similar others to like us o Research has shown that we want people in general to like us and approve us o We tend to like people who like us in return - Similar others have qualities we like; dissimilar others are “unreasonable” o We tend to hold on to views and opinions tightly, and we think our views are right o When we meet people who are similar, we tend to think they have the right values Factor 3: Physical Attractiveness - In advertising, the beauty business is really big What is Beautiful? - Facial symmetry o Preference for symmetrical faces (seen across cultures, ethnic groups, etc.) - Women o Large eyes, small nose, small chin, prominent cheekbones, high eyebrows - Men o Large eyes, small nose, large chin Halo Effect - The common belief (accurate or not) that attractive people possess a host of positive qualities beyond their physical appearance - Think about how beauty or attractiveness constitutes a stereotype We Think Attractive People… - Are happier - Are more extraverted and sociable - Are more popular - Are more intelligent - Make more money Kernel Of Truth - Highly attractive people do develop good social interaction skills and report more satisfying interactions with others - They are treated differently (due to the beauty is good stereotype) - This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy PSY220H5 – Social Psychology Lecture 6 – October 24, 2013 Benefits of Attractiveness - School work evaluated more favorably - Earn more money (especially men) - Receive more help from others (especially women) - Receive lighter prison sentences Starts Early in Life - Nurses are more responsive to “cuter” babies and gave them better care o They were discharged from the hospital more quickly than the less attractive infants - Attractive infants receive more playful attention from their mothers - Attractive children are more popular in nursery school o Teachers
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