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PSYC 241 Ch9 Attraction and Close Relationships.pdf

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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYC 241
Professor
Roderick C L Lindsay
Semester
Winter

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PSYC  241  –  Attraction  and  Close  Relationships   Chapter  9   Attraction  and  Close  Relationships     Being  with  Others:  A  Fundamental  Human  Motive     We  are  hugely  driven  by  the  need  to  be  socially  accepted.  We  spend  time  and  money  making   ourselves  as  attractive  as  possible.  We  greet  the  end  of  relationships  (because  of  distance,  divorce,   or  death)  with  grief  and  anxiety.       Social  anxiety  disorders:  intense  feeling  of  discomfort  in  situations  that  invite  public  scrutiny.       People  with  more  social  connections  tend  to  have  greater  self-­‐esteem,  happiness,  and  life   satisfaction.       Need  for  affiliation:  desire  to  establish  social  contact  with  others.  People  differ  in  know  great  the   desire  the  strength  of  the  affiliation  to  be,  but  we  all  have  the  desire  for  affiliation  to  some  extent.   After  all,  we  work  and  play  with  others  and  we  make  lifelong  commitments  to  friends,  family,  and   lover(s).       People  strive  to  strike  an  optimum  balance  of  social  contact.  This  is  an  equilibrium  of  sorts  that   balances  the  amount  of  time  you  wish  to  be  alone  with  the  amount  of  time  you  wish  to  be  with   others.  Researchers  refer  to  a  “sociostat”  –  a  social  thermostat  that  regulates  affiliative   tendencies.         What  factors  make  us  more  likely  to  affiliate  with  others  at  a  given  time?   • Thousands  of  individual  and  personality  factors   • Optimum  balance  of  social  contact  –  study  found  that  whether  participants  wanted  to  be   alone  or  with  others  best  predicted  which  they  would  be  the  next  time  they  were  contacted   (via  beepers)   • Fear  can  trigger  affiliation  –  one  example  is  neighbours  coming  together  in  a  storm.  See   cognitive  clarity,  below.     Cognitive  clarity:  others  can  help  us  sort  out  a  stressful  experience.  We  tend  to  seek  others  who   have  the  most  answers  or  experience  to  provide  about  the  situation.       “Misery  loves  the  company  of  those  in  the  same  miserable  situation.”     Fear  of  embarrassment  usually  makes  us  want  to  be  alone.  One  study  found  that  when   participants  were  anticipating  receiving  electric  shocks  they  opted  to  wait  with  other  nervous   patients  but  if  they  were  anticipating  sucking  on  bottle  nipples  or  pacifiers  they  opted  to  wait   alone.  Why  is  this?  One  theory  proposed  that  we  only  seek  to  affiliate  in  stressful  situations  when   the  company  of  others  relieves  some  of  the  negative  effects  of  the  tension.  Of  course  when  we   anticipate  pain,  others  soothe  us.  When  we  anticipate  being  embarrassed,  other  people  are  one   more  means  of  social  evaluation.       1   PSYC  241  –  Attraction  and  Close  Relationships   We  are  social  creatures  with  a  need  to  affiliate.  This  makes  loneliness  “the  most  terrible  poverty”   (Mother  Teresa)  and  shyness  very  debilitating.  People  who  are  shy  tend  to  engage  in  risk   avoidance  by  rejecting  others  before  they  can  be  rejected  themselves.  This  can  put  them  in  a   pervasive  cycle  of  being  alone.  Furthermore,  shy  individuals  tend  to  evaluate  themselves   negatively,  expect  to  fail  in  social  encounters,  and  blame  themselves  when  they  do.  This  can  lead   them  into  self-­‐imposed  isolation.       People  who  fear  rejection  tend  to  think  that  their  friendly  or  romantic  gestures  are  transparent  to   others,  which  causes  them  to  back  off.     Loneliness:  feeling  of  deprivation  about  existing  social  relationships.  Some  researchers  say  that   this  comes  from  a  discrepancy  in  the  number  of  social  connections  one  has  and  the  number  that   they  want.       We  are  most  likely  to  feel  lonely  in  times  of  transition  (such  as  going  to  college)  or  disruption   (such  as  a  breakup).  Studies  have  shown  that  people  who  are  not  in  a  relationship  are  lonelier   than  those  who  are,  but  people  who  are  divorced  or  widowed  are  lonelier  than  people  who  have   never  been  in  a  relationship.       The  loneliest  groups  are  American  adolescents  aged  18-­‐30.  Loneliness  tends  to  decline  in   adulthood.     The  Initial  Attraction     • Familiarity   • Physical  attractiveness   • First  encounters   • Developing  desire     If  you’re  to  be  in  a  social  relationship,  need  for  affiliation  is  the  first  step.  Affiliation  itself  is  the   first  step  to  actually  forming  a  social  relationship.       What  are  factors  that  attract  us  to  others?  Most  people  seek  relationships  that  are  rewarding.   There  are  also  evolutionary  theories  as  to  what  fuels  attraction  ...       Evolution  tells  us  that  we  seek  a  mate  who  will  offer  the  best  chances  of  reproduction  and  the   survival  of  our  offspring.  Adaptively  every  organism  wants  to  pass  on  their  genes,  and  to  ensure   this  will  happen  they  will  choose  the  strongest  mate.       Familiarity.  We  are  most  likely  to  be  attracted  to  someone  that  we  have  seen  and  become  familiar   with.  There  are  two  variables  here:  proximity  and  exposure.       Proximity  effect:  individuals  are  most  likely  to  get  together  if  they  share  close  physical  proximity.   Where  we  live  affects  the  friends  we  make.  People  tend  to  date  others  who  live  nearby.       2   PSYC  241  –  Attraction  and  Close  Relationships   Mere  exposure  effect:  the  more  often  an  individual  is  exposed  to  a  stimulus  the  more  positively   they  rate  the  stimulus.  In  other  words,  familiarity  breeds  attraction  (recall  the  jewelry  store;  the   earlier  example  about  magazine  ads).       Here’s  something  interesting:  participants  had  a  portrait  taken  and  two  copies  were  printed;  one   was  the  regular  photograph  and  the  other  was  a  mirror  image.  The  participant  rated  the  mirror   image  photo  more  attractive  while  their  friends  rated  the  regular  photo  more  attractive.  In  both   cases  the  individuals  were  choosing  the  option  they  were  most  familiar  with.       Physical  attractiveness.  This  is  the  variable  that  draws  others  in.  We  tend  to  react  better  to   others  who  are  physically  attractive  than  to  those  who  are  not.       There  is  no  single  standard  of  what  is  beautiful,  but  some  faces  are  inherently  more  attractive  than   others.       When  it  comes  to  rating  others’  attractiveness,  there  is  high  consistency  between  men,  women,   adults,  children,  and  races.  That  is  to  say  that  all  of  these  groups  find  the  same  faces  attractive.  In   addition,  how  attractive  another  person  is  perceived  is  not  relative  to  the  attractiveness  of  the   beholder  (that  is,  people  who  are  unattractive  give  the  same  rating  as  attractive  people  when   looking  at  others).  Common  features  that  people  find  attractive  include  smooth  skin,  a  pleasant   expression,  and  youthfulness.       Men  tend  to  be  attracted  to  women  with  a  narrow  waist  and  wide  hips,  as  this  is  the  body  shape   that  is  best  for  childbearing.  Women  are  more  attracted  to  men  with  a  V-­‐shape.       Remember  in  cognitive  psych  when  we  were  shown  averaged  faces  that  were  more  attractive  than   the  original?  Averaged  faces  provide  more  familiarity  because  they  encompass  more  features.   (MORPHTHING!)  We  also  tend  to  like  symmetrical  faces  because  symmetry  is  a  physical  clue  on  a   person’s  efficacy  as  a  mate  (based  on  variables  of  health,  fertility,  fitness,  etc.)     There  is  some  discrepancy  as  to  whether  beauty  is  inherent  or  in  the  eye  of  the  beholder.  On  one   hand,  there  is  the  evidence  above.  But  these  trends  could  be  accounted  for  by  awareness  of  trends.   A  study  indicates  that  this  is  not  the  case:  babies  spent  more  time  looking  at  photos  of  people  that   had  been  rated  attractive  by  college  students.  On  the  other  hand,  there  is  huge  variability  between   individuals  as  to  what  their  preferences  are  and  whom  they  find  attractive.       Note  that  while  some  faces  are  seen  as  attractive  across  races,  the  overall  attractiveness  of  a   person  can  be  determined  by  culture.  Makeup,  clothes,  body  shape,  hairstyle,  tattoos,  piercings,   and  scars  can  all  be  attractive  in  some  places  and  repulsive  in  others.         Nonphysical  qualities  can  play  a  role  in  how  physically  attractive  we  find  a  person.  In  addition,  the   more  in  love  you  are  with  your  partner  the  less  likely  you  are  to  notice  physical  beauty  or  be   attracted  to  others  of  the  opposite  sex  other  than  your  partner.           3   PSYC  241  –  Attraction  and  Close  Relationships   Red-­‐sex  link:  men  have  been  conditioned  that  the  colour  red  is  associated  with  sex  (as  aroused   female  genitalia  are  this  colour)  and  women  still  use  the  colour  in  clothing  and  makeup  to  vamp   up  sex  appeal.       fMRI  studies  have  shown  that  we  derive  pleasure  from  viewing  attractive  people  much  the  same   way  that  we  derive  pleasure  from  looking  at  a  fine  piece  of  art  or  looking  at  a  beautiful  landscape.       What-­‐is-­‐beautiful-­‐is-­‐good  stereotype:  this  is  fairly  self-­‐explanatory;  we  tend  to  assign  more   positive  traits  to  beautiful  people.  This  has  been  reinforced  in  cinema  for  ages.  Cinderella  is   beautiful  and  kind  while  her  stepsisters  are  ugly  and  cruel.  Evil  characters  tend  to  have  some   physical  deformation  that  makes  them  appear  sinister.       Beauty  is  predictive  of  ...     Beauty  is  not  predictive  of  ...     • More  friends   • Intelligence   • Better  social  skills   • Personality   • More  active  sex  life   • Adjustment   • Success  at  attracting  a  mate   • Self-­‐esteem     How  is  beauty  predictive  of  having  more  friends  and  better  social  skills?  The  first  thing  that  pops   to  my  mind  is  reinforcement.  The  textbook  describes  self-­‐fulfilling  prophecy.  Men  who  thought   they  were  talking  on  the  phone  to  an  attractive  woman  were  friendlier.  Women  in  turn  were   warmer,  more  confident,  and  more  animated.       Why  is  it  that  beautiful  people  can  suffer  from  low  self-­‐esteem?  This  can  be  answered  by  an   attribution  bias.  Attractive  people  cannot  be  sure  if  they  are  being  positively  evaluated  because  of   their  looks  or  their  talent.  In  an  experiment  individuals  were  asked  to  write  an  essay.  They  were   either  told  that  the  essay  was  being  evaluated  by  a)  a  person  who  had  been  watching  through  a   one-­‐way  mirror  b)  a  person  who  had  never  seen  them.  Really  there  was  no  evaluator  and   everyone  got  glowing  reviews  on  their  essay.  Afterwards  the  individuals  were  asked  to  comment   on  the  extent  to  which  they  believed  the  evaluation  was  based  on  the  quality  of  work.  Here  are  the   results:   • Unattractive  individuals  felt  better  about  their  work  when  they  thought  that  the  evaluator   had  seen  them  than  when  they  had  been  unseen.     • Physically  attractive  individuals  did  not  rate  their  work  quality  as  high  when  they  had  been   seen,  but  rated  it  substantially  higher  when  they  had  been  unseen.       In  addition  to  the  attribution  bias,  there  can  be  huge  social  pressure  acting  on  individuals  to  stay   attractive.       First  encounters.  Of  course  during  a  first  encounter  beauty  draws  you  like  a  magnet.  But  there  are   three  other  variables  that  can  influence  attraction  from  the  first  encounter:   • Similarity   • Reciprocity   • Being  hard  to  get     4   PSYC  241  –  Attraction  and  Close  Relationships     Similarity.  Even  though  the  old  saying  goes  “opposites  attract”,  when  it  comes  to  attraction  this   tends  to  be  untrue.     • Demographics   • Attitudes   • Attractiveness   • Subjective  experience     Think  about  this:  going  into  a  chatroom  and  meeting  someone  with  the  same  favourite  movies,   bands,  and  interests.  Now  picture  chatting  with  someone  with  totally  different  interests.  Who  are   you  more  likely  to  want  to  meet?     Demographic  variables  such  as  age,  education,  race,  religion,  height,  intelligence,  and  SES  are  an   important  factor.  Most  couples  tend  to  be  similar  when  it  comes  to  demographics.       Attitude  similarity  is  important;  people  tend  to  be  attracted  to  others  who  have  similar  values,   interests,  and  opinions.       Attitude  similarity  can  breed  attraction,  but  also  attraction  can  breed  attitude  similarity.   • Students  perceived  evaluators  better  when  the  evaluator  agreed  with  their  written   attitudes.   • Close  couples  who  disagree  on  an  issue  tend  to  bring  their  attitudes  into  alignment.     Some  researchers  say  that  attraction  to  similar  others  is  overplayed  as  a  mechanism.  They  believe   that  first  we  are  repulsed  by  dissimilar  others  (causing  avoidance)  and  then  we  seek  similarity.       Bryne’s  two  stage  model  of  the  attraction  process:     1. We  avoid  people  who  are  dissimilar.   2. Among  the  remaining  people  we  are  drawn  to  those  who  are  most  similar.             5   PSYC  241  –  Attraction  and  Close  Relationships     Attractiveness.  People  are  more  attracted  to  good-­‐looking  people  within  their  reach.  That  is  to   say,  a  large  part  of  attraction  is  finding  a  person  within  your  league.       Matching  hypothesis:  people  tend  to  be  involved  with  romantic  partners  of  similar   attractiveness.     Subjective  experience.  The  simple  act  of  making  eye  contact  in  a  crowded  room,  laughing  at  the   same  joke,  etc.  can  be  the  basis  of  sharing  a  similar  experience.  Even  if  two  people  are  dissimilar   they  can  feel  connected  by  a  shared  experience.     I-­‐sharing:  similarity  through  sharing  a  subjective  experience.       Complementarity  hypothesis:  the  notion  that  “opposites  attract.”  There  has  been  no  scientific   basis  for  this  hypothesis.  People  may  be  attracted  to  novel  traits  but  this  does  not  allow  for   sustained  attraction.       I-­‐sharing  explains  why  it  sometimes  appears  that  opposites  attract.  Two  people  who  are  dissimilar   can  be  attracted  to  one  another  because  of  a  shared  experience.  For  example,  a  Christian  and  an   atheist  can  be  brought  together  over  the  beauty  of  a  painting.  This  effect  can  be  fleeting,  however.       Reciprocity.  We  prefer  relationships  that  are  psychologically  “balanced.”     Reciprocity:  mutual  exchange  between  what  we  give  and  what  we  receive.  This  creates  a  state  of   balance  in  the  relationship.       We  tend  to  like  others  who  like  us.  We  want  to  like  the  friends  of  our  friends  and  the  enemies  of   our  enemies.       In  one  experiment  female  participants  were  paired  with  a  confederate.  Afterward  the  participant   overheard  a  conversation  between  the  confederate  and  the  experimenter  that  evaluated  her.  The   participant  liked  the  confederate  more  when  the  evaluation  went  from  negative  to  positive  than   when  it  went  from  positive  to  negative  or  was  positive  the  whole  time.  The  implication  is  that  we   like  people  whose  affection  comes  gradually  more  than  those  whose  affection  comes  easily.       Hard  to  get.  We  like  others  who  are  socially  selective.       Hard-­‐to-­‐get-­‐effect:  we  tend  to  prefer  people  who  are  highly  socially  selective  in  their  social   choices.  There  is  a  middle  ground  though;  we  prefer  people  who  are  moderately  selective  over   people  who  are  nonselective  (low  standards)  or  snobby  (excessively  high  standards).       The  hard-­‐to-­‐get-­‐effect  is  not  as  simple  as  it  outwardly  appears.  We  tend  to  dislike  others  who   reject  us  because  they  are  in  a  committed  relationship  or  they  have  no  interest  in  us.           6   PSYC  241  –  Attraction  and  Close  Relationships     Recall  the  theory  of  psychological  reactance,  which  states  that  we  are  highly  motivated  to   protect  our  freedom  to  choose  and  behave  as  we  please.  This  ties  into  people  that  are  hard  to  get   (both  because  of  physical  or  external  factors,  such  as  distance,  forbidden  love,  or  lack  of  time).   When  faced  with  the  idea  that  they  might  not  be  the  object  of  one’s  attention  people  will  reassert   themselves.  This  causes  them  to  have  heightened  desire  for  the  thing  they  cannot  have.       Consistent  with  the  theory  explained  above  is  the  phenomenon  that  others  tend  to  get  more   attractive  as  the  night  wears  on,  but  only  as  rated  by  single  people.  Of  course  there  are  obvious   confounds  to  cond
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