Psychology 2035A/B Lecture Notes - Equity Theory, Physical Attractiveness, Reciprocal Liking

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INTERPERSONAL ATTRACTION AND LOVE
October 18, 2010
Q: Why are people attracted to other people?
Examples of why socialization/contact with other people is so important to us:
In the 60s, the dean of Indiana University sailed a 10m boat off the east coast of the US
across the Atlantic Ocean, and arrived in Ireland 51 days later. He was very LONELY! He
said he would NOT do it again b/c it was too much of an ordeal b/c he was too lonely even
though he always thought he was self-sufficient. He realized that he had the need of
having someone to talk to after not being able to communicate with other people for such
a long time
In 1959 a psychologist offered students 50$/day to stay in a room alone without any
contact with the outside world. He found that no one was able to stay in the room for
longer than 8 days, 1 only lasted 20 min
Q: Why are we NOT attracted to everyone b/c of out instinctive need to be with other people?
What makes us selective in the people we care about?
Interpersonal Attraction
- Part 1: specific factors (241-247)
oInitial Encounters
Proximity- we like our neighbours more than people who are not near us
Familiarity-we like people that we see often rather than someone we’ve
never seen
Physical attractiveness- we like people who are more physically attractive
oWhen getting acquainted, some factors include:
Reciprocal liking- we like people who we know like us in return
Similarity- we like people with whom we share similar interests
Personal characteristics- we can like someone based on certain
personality characteristics that they possess
- Part 2: general theories of attraction
1. The Reinforcement-Affect Model
oBasic idea: rewards lead to positive affect (feelings); punishment lead to negative
feelings
oTheory predicts that we’ll like people who reward us and we won’t like people who
punish us
INTERPERSONAL ATTRACTION AND LOVE
October 18, 2010
You are more likely to like someone who is especially kind to you rather then
rude
oBut that’s not all, this theory ALSO says:
We’ll like/dislike people even when they don’t cause our positive or negative
feelings - they simply have to be present when we experience positive or
negative affect; thus our feelings towards someone can have nothing to do
with the person themselves but simply the situation in which we met them in
STUDY : hot rooms- people were put in rooms that were either normal
temperature or uncomfortably hot with other people that they didn’t know.
They were then asked of their impression of the stranger and the results
showed that they liked people in normal rooms than the uncomfortably hot
room because they experiences bad feelings towards the environment which
translated to the person even though they did NOT CAUSE the heat
Same concept applies if they heard bad news on the radio in the
presence of another person; we’d like the person more if we heard
GOOD news in their presence
AND with also works with pleasant vs. unpleasant music
2. Social Exchange Theories
oThey focus explicitly on attraction in relationships which makes them more complex
oA relationship exists whenever people interact on a regular basis e.g. marriage, a
dating couple, family members but ALSO according to this definition being in a
study group/classroom and a car pool is a relationship b/c we interact with these
people on a regular basis
oSatisfaction with a relationship depends on :
1. Rewards (what a person “receives” from the relationship) affection, intimacy,
respect, sex, someone to lean on rewards of being in a relationship
2. Costs (what a person “contributes” to the relationship) time, effort, compromise,
suffering in times of conflict, can’t date other people
oRewards and costs can be expressed in terms of a ratio: R/C (rewards/costs);
described both as a DIFFERENCE and RATIO in the text, both are right but the
lecture refers to the ratio
Theories say it’s good to get at least as many rewards as costs out of a
relationship (R=C)
INTERPERSONAL ATTRACTION AND LOVE
October 18, 2010
So when rewards equal or exceed costs, we will be satisfied with the
relationship
But when the costs exceed rewards, we’ll be dissatisfied with the relationship
Carpool- cheaper, avoid buses, people to talk to in the morning BUT can’t
sleep in, less flexible if a class is cancelled according to the theory if the
rewards exceed the costs you’ll be satisfied in this relationship
oThe above are the 2 basic ideas that are the basis of all social exchange theories
(rewards and costs, and which one outweighs the other)
oResearch shows that costs become important only after about 3 months in a dating
relationship. After 3 months you balance both rewards/costs whereas at the
beginning it’s all about the rewards
Equity Theory
- Relationships are satisfied when rewards outweigh the costs but ALSO considers the
rewards and costs of both people in the relationship
- “equity” exists when one person’s ratio of R/C = the other person’s ratio of R/C
-EXAMPLES:
Relationship Satisfaction You Partner
equitable relationship-
both ratio are equal
10/10 10/10
Still an equitable
relationship even though
it’s shitty
1/1 1/1
REWARDS ARE NOT EQUAL
B/C YOUR COSTS ARE 10x
AS MUCH BUT YOUR RATIO
IS THE SAME b/c your also
getting 10X more out SO
YOUR STILL SATISFIED
10/10 1/1
- Newspaper vender/him had a satisfying relationship when he wasn’t talking but he was
NOT interested in talking to the guy before his more coffee so he was no longer satisfied
until the guy shut up
**equity is not the same as equality the actual rewards and costs don’t have to be the same,
it’s only important that the ratio is the same!
- Inequity exists when one person’s ratio of r/c does not equal the other person’s ratio