PSY 220 CH.10
• Human beings can find themselves romantically attracted to all sorts of people: people of
the same or different sex, people from different cultures, and people spanning a
considerable age range.
• All sorts of relationships can work out.
• Many studies of relationships are not true experiments with random assignment of
participants to different conditions. Instead they use longitudinal methods to examine the
dynamics that unfold over time in pre-existing relationships.
• Faces the challenging methodological problem of self-selection (investigators cannot
assign participants to conditions to be compared).
The Importance of Relationships
• Aperson’s identity and sense of self are shaped by their social relationships. We have a
biological need to belong in relationships.
Arguments for the Need to Belong
• Evolutionarily, relationships help individuals and offspring survive.
• Friendship evolved as a means for non-kin to cooperate and to avoid the costs and perils
of competition and aggression.
• If there is an evolutionary basis, we can expect some universal features.
• Some universal patterns of social behaviour include care giving between mother and
child, wrestling between siblings, flirtation by young people who are courting, affection
between romantic partners, and dominance displays between adolescent males.
• If the need to belong is truly a need it needs to be satiable.As seen in college students
who tend to restrict the number of meaningful friendships to 6 friends.
Evidence for the Need to Belong
• Harry Harlow raised baby rhesus monkeys with access to 2 surrogate mothers (props).
When they reached adolescence, they acted abnormally with their peers. They were
highly fearful, could not interact with their peers, and they engaged in inappropriate
• Evident also in elephants whose mothers have been slaughtered. They grow to be anti-
social and quite aggressive to their own species and others (kill rhinos for sport).
• Admissions for psych problems into hospitals have increased with the amount of
divorces.Also increased are suicide rates and crime.
Relationships and the Sense of Self
• We have a relationship self. When encountering people who remind us of those we know,
our relationship self is activated (unconsciously).
• Showing positive emotions to the person that reminds us of someone else can lead to
them reciprocating those positive emotions.
Different Ways of Relating to Others
• Different relationships contribute to different selves.
Communal and Exchange Relationships • Communal relationships: Relationships in which the individuals feel a special
responsibility for one another to the principle of need; such relationships are often long
term. E.g. relationships among family members, close friends
• Exchange relationships: Relationships in which individuals feel little responsibility
toward one another; giving and receiving are governed by concerns about equity and
reciprocity. Examples include interactions with salespeople and bureaucrats, or with
workers and supervisors in a business organization.
• Societies differ largely in which approach they generally prefer. Collectivistic cultures are
more likely to take a communal approach to most situations. Individualistic cultures are
more likely to take an exchange approach.
• Differences among cultures as well. Catholic countries are more likely to take the
communal approach than Protestant countries.
Reward and Social Exchange Theories of Interpersonal Relationships
• Even the most intimate relationships are partly built on exchange to some extent.
• We gravitate towards relationships that have some sort of reward for us, even if the
reward is as simple as it makes us feel good.
• Therefore a great way to make friends is to reward them in some way.
• The term ‘gold digger’would probably not exist had this approach not worked in the
• Social exchange theory: A theory based on the idea that all relationships have costs and
rewards, and that how people feel about a relationship depends on their assessments of
its costs and rewards and the costs and rewards available to them in other relationships.
• People tend to pursue those relationships that yield the most favourable results for them,
when those aren’t available, they then lower their standards.
• Equity theory: A theory that maintains that people are motivated to pursue fairness, or
equity, in their relationships; regards and costs are shared roughly equally among
• Attachment theory: A theory about how our early attachments with our parents shape our
relationships for the rest of our lives.
• Human children only survive by forming close attachments to their parents/caregivers.
Babies and caregivers both form strong attachments to each other.
• Over time, babies develop working models of themselves and of how relationships
function based on their parents’availability and responsiveness.
• Study: Child left in new room with many new toys. Caregiver initially there, then a
stranger walks in and the caregiver leaves.After 3 minutes caregivers returned. Infants
who were securely attached were often distressed and cried when the caregiver left and
when their caregivers responded, their troubles were eased.Anxious attachment was
shown to be when caregivers sometimes attended to the child’s need and sometimes did
not.Avoidant attachment style was due to caregivers rejecting the infants. The infant
would even reject attention is offered.
• Measures of 2 dimensions to capture attachment style: anxiety and avoidance. • Where a person falls on these 2 dimensions yields 4 attachment styles: Secure, anxious-
preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, and fearful-avoidant.
• Secure attachment style: An attachment style characterized by feelings of security in
relationships. Individuals with this style are comfortable with intimacy and want to be
close to others during times of threat and uncertainty.
• Anxious-preoccupied style: An attachment style characterized by dependency or
“clinginess.” People with an anxious-preoccupied style tend not to have a positive view
of themselves, but they value and seek out intimacy.
• Dismissive-avoidant style: An attachment style characterized by independence and self-
reliance. People with a dismissive-avoidant style seek less intimacy with others and deny
the importance of close relationships.
• Fearful-avoidant style: An attachment style characterized by ambivalence and discomfort
toward close relationships. People with a fearful-avoidant style desire closeness with
others but feel unworthy of others’affection and so do not seek out intimacy.
Stability of Attachment Styles
• Central principle of attachment theory is that they are attached early on and stable
• Secure individuals are particularly likely to remain so over time, but there is still some
• Securely attached individuals report greater relationship satisfaction.
• There is question as to whether people have the same attachment style across all
• Different attachment styles can be momentarily primed or activated.
• Also question as to whether a given attachment style in a relationship is stable across
• In interdependent cultures, kids sleep in their parents’rooms longer, often into
adolescence, leading to greater attachment.
• Sometimes we are drawn to certain people and repulsed by others for reasons we can’t
• Propinquity: Physical proximity.
• Most enduring friendships are forged between people whose paths cross frequently.
Studies of Proximity andAttraction
• Study in a housing complex. Residents were asked to name the 3 people they saw most
socially often in their entire housing project. 2/3rds of those listed friends in the same
building as then, even if the building population was 5% of the total housing complex.
Within buildings, neighbours were more likely to be friends. For those living at the end of
the hall, they were more likely to be friends with the people above and below them.
• Functional distance: The tendency of an architectural layout to encourage or inhibit
certain activities, including contact between people. • Proximity presumably leads to friendship because in increases the chances of chance
• In another study, it was seen that people will overlook things like cultural barriers when
making friends if they have a close proximity to them.
Proximity,Availability, andAnticipating Interaction
• Another reason that proximity breeds liking is that people tend to give those they expect
to interact the benefit of the doubt. Knowing that we will interact with them increases our
liking of them.
The Mere Exposure Effect
• Mere exposure effect: The finding that repeated exposure to a stimulus (for example, an
object or person) leads to greater liking of the stimulus.
• Study: Participants told Turkish words. Different words were shown a different amount of
times to them. Asked later to rate the extent that each word referred to something good or
bad, they were more likely to rate the words they saw often as good.Also accomplished
with Chinese characters or yearbook pictures.
• Experiment: We often see our mirror image. Others see our true selves. When shown both
and asked which we liked better, more likely to say the mirror image.
• Study: Rats were played different types of music growing up. Put in a cage with a foot
peddle that plays type 1 or type 2, and most chose the one they grew up listening to.
• Repeated exposure leads to liking for a couple of seasons. First, people find it easier to
perceive and cognitively process familiar stimuli; people find the experience of fluency
inherently pleasurable. Secondly, upon repeated exposure to a thing or a person with no
negative consequences, we learn to associate the stimulus with the absence of anything
negative and form a comfortable, pleasant attachment to the stimulus.
• People tend to like those that are similar to themselves.
Studies of Similarity andAttraction
• Study: 1000 engaged couples, 850 went on to marry. All were asked to provide
information about themselves on 88 characteristics. Members of engaged couples were
found to be more similar than randomly assigned couples.
• People may compensate for dissimilarity on one dimension by seeking out similarity on
• Study: Students let to live in housing for free in exchange for filling out surveys. Paired
with roommates. Over the course of the 15 weeks, they were more likely to like their
roommate if they were similar to them.
But Don’t Opposites Attract
• Complementarity: The tendency for people to seek out others with characteristic that are
different from and that complement their own.
• The complementarity hypothesis really makes sense only for those traits for which one
person’s needs can be met by the other. (Dependent works with nurturer, but hard-
working not so good with the lazy).
• Though there are few studies and fewer without criticisms that support this hypothesis.
• Similarity is the rule; complementarity the exception.
Why Does Similarity PromoteAttraction? • Interactions with people who share our beliefs, values, and personal characteristics tend
to be rewarding and thus tend to increase our attraction towards them.
• People who share our beliefs and values validate those beliefs and values.
• People also tend to think that most of their beliefs and values are the right ones to have.
• Since a person’s physical appearance is so visible – and visible so immediately – it affects
our instantaneous, gut reaction to someone we meet for the first time.
• Although certain features are deemed attractive by most people, there is variability in
what people fins attractive.
• People are predisposed to like those who are physically attractive, but the reverse is true
as well. People tend to find those they like more attractive.
• Physical attractiveness varies across age ranges.
Impact of PhysicalAttractiveness
• Attractive individuals are more popular among members of the opposite sex than non-
• Found that an essay written by attractive individuals are generally found to be more
appealing than ones written by unattractive individuals.
• Also a correlation between increased attractiveness and increased salary.
• Men are more likely to come to the aid of an attractive woman.
• Defendants are given a leaner sentence if they are found attractive.
The Halo Effect
• Halo effect: The common belief – accurate or not – that attractive individuals possess a
host of positive qualities beyond their physical appearance.
• Experiment: Participants were shown photographs and asked to rate how happy,
intelligent, popular, good of a personality, etc. the people were.Attractive people were
rated higher than unattractive people. The only co