Attraction in Social Psychology

Table of Content

Introduction: Attraction in Social Psychology is one of the key areas where there is still research going on to understand what are the various elements in a human that makes him/her to behave in a specific manner & how these variations are processed by the brain. The importance of this research paper is mainly to explain the basic psychological functions that are mainly concerned with the element of ‘attraction’ in Psychology & to analyze the statistical data available. So what are the various elements that cause attraction? Do these interests or aspects vary with change in age?

Are they different with respect to the geographical areas? What attracts people in selecting another as a mate and marriage partner? What attracts people in selecting another as a mate and marriage partner from a different culture? Many such questions will be answered in this research paper. Main Content: The different types of situations that can cause an attraction: 1. Proximity – People usually get to know people who are very close usually to their residence especially from an early age. Such proximities can create a spark of friendship among people. . Association – This kind of association is based on meeting people or new students during a common class that all of them enjoy. 3. Similarity – People prefer other kinds of people who share similar opinions or have a common liking regarding other interests. 4. Reciprocal Liking – This is based on the theory that, we usually like another person who enjoys our friendship & company. 5. Physical Attractiveness – Physical attraction plays a role although not that high compared to the above reasons, in which we choose as friends.

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Nonetheless, we tend to choose people who we believe to be attractive and who are close to how we see our own physical attractiveness. Early studies of socialization in adolescence concentrated on the influence of parents. Building on the prior work of scholars who had studied socialization during early and middle childhood, students of adolescent socialization examined different forms of parental discipline and their impact on the adolescent’s character development.

The dramatic increase in the relative size of the adolescent population during the 1960s, however, as well as growing concerns about the segregation of adolescents from adults created by the growth of secondary and post-secondary education, fueled scholarly interest in the study of adolescent peer groups and the potential influence of adolescents on each other. The human psyche operates so that we feel bad when we are socially isolated, ridiculed, and rejected and good when we are warmly greeted by a friend, complimented by a Co-worker, or kissed by a mate.

On the continuum from immediate surface-level goals to fundamental social motives, people are often consciously aware of the moment-to-moment surface-level goals (to get a date for Saturday night); they are sometimes, but not always, aware of broader underlying goals (to develop a romantic relationship); and they may rarely be conscious of the fundamental motives, or ultimate functions, that un- dearly their social behavior (to attract and retain a mate).

Furthermore, the links between motives and social behaviors are sometimes quite complex. For instance, aggression may serve the goal of protection, but winning a fight might also help a teenage boy achieve sta- thus or get information about himself. In fact, a given behavior can serve more than one motive at the same time; for instance, going on a date could eventually lead to the satisfaction of the needs for affiliation, for social information, for status, for a mate, and even for protection.

Problems that can arise in romantic relationships: Obsession about partner’s availability, emotional instability, worries about being abandoned, lack of satisfaction, strong physical attraction, jealousy, and a passionate desire for union characterized anxious-ambivalent persons’ love relationships. They tend to construct highly conflictive relationships and to suffer from a high rate of break-ups.

They indiscriminately disclose their personal feelings without taking into consideration the partner’s identity and responses; display argumentative and over-controlling responses towards romantic partners; rely on strategies that aggrandize rather than reduce interpersonal conflicts; and elicit negative responses from partners. Overall, anxious-ambivalent persons’ pattern of interpersonal behaviors reflects a demand of compulsive attachment from others, which may create relational tension, may result in the breaking-up of the relationship, and may exacerbate their basic insecurity and fear of rejection.

Cross-Cultural Case Study on Attractiveness: Although the effects of attractiveness and physical appearance on the formation of positive impressions are well documented in the mainstream psychological literature, cultures clearly differ on the meaning and definition of attractiveness. Beauty is a relative judgment, and people of different cultures can have quite different concepts of what is beautiful and what is not. Cultural differences in the definition of attractiveness, in turn, can influence the formation Of impressions.

Daibo, Murasawa, and Chou (1994) – some of the well-known experimental psychologists , for example, compared judgments of physical attractiveness made by Japanese and Koreans. They showed male and female university students in both countries slides of Japanese and Korean females and asked them to rate the attractiveness and likability of each person using 13 bipolar adjective scales. Three poses of each person were shown: front view, profile, and three-quarter view.

Facial physiognomy— that is, the anatomical characteristics of the face—were also measured separately by an anatomist, and these measurements were correlated with the psychological judgments provided by the respondents. In Japan, attractiveness ratings were positively correlated with large eyes, small mouths, and small chins. In Korea, however, attractiveness ratings were correlated with large eyes, small and high noses, and thin and small faces. Koreans tended to attach other affective and psychological judgments, such as maturity and likability, to judgments of attractiveness. The Japanese, however, did not.

Inferences from the above case study: Analysing the above case study of two cultures, we can see that there are different standards for beauty, but that beauty has culturally specific psychological meanings. It also gives us a wider meaning of how ‘culture’ plays a major role in attractiveness. There is no clear-cut answer as to why some studies have found differences across cultures and others have found cross-cultural similarity. Clearly, methodological differences across the studies need to be ruled out before making any definitive statements concerning the possible influence of culture on ratings of attractiveness.

For example, the differences in the results across studies may be attributable to the nature of the samples tested, or the nature of the stimuli used. Also, differences in the findings across cultures may be associated with degree of exposure to other cultures’ standards of beauty via mass media (magazines, movies, television), and these effects are not handled consistently in all cross-cultural research. Regardless of the research findings, however, we know from personal experience that there are enough individual differences within any culture in judgments of attractiveness to suggest that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

Ginsburg and Harrington (1996) recently proposed an account of emotion along more purely conceptualist lines. The concept of emotion refers to an action in a context. The con- text has two structural features. The first is hierarchical: a broad system of events and social relationships that are necessary to give meaning to the action. The second feature of the context is linear; that is, it includes a sequence of actions unfolding overtime. Prior actions lead to subsequent actions. Actions also alter bodily state and felt experience.

The entire sequence of actions in context with its accompanying bodily and mental state is construed as emotion. In this way, there is no emotion in addition to the action in context. No single event within the sequence can be equated with emotion. Ginsburg and Harrington described the proper study of emotion as descriptive. They suggested creating natural histories of specific emotional episodes. In turn, these emotional episodes are to be understood as a subsystem of larger and more complex systems.

The search for universal entities is abandoned in favour of an exhaustive description of such systems relevant for a particular culture. Interpersonal Attraction: As our world gets smaller and smaller, the frequency of interacting with people of ethnic and cultural backgrounds different from our own increases. As these intercultural interactions increase, so does the likelihood that people will be- come attracted to each other, fall in love, get married, and have families. Indeed, whereas intercultural and interracial relationships were a rarity in the past, they are now more and more frequent in our ommunities. With this increase in intercultural and inter- racial relationships increased tensions, frustrations, worries, and joys. Driven by new concerns arising from our increasingly intercultural world, the amount of cross-cultural research on this topic has also increased. Psychologists use the term interpersonal attraction to encompass a variety of experiences, including liking, friendship, admiration, lust, and love. Interpersonal Attraction and Love in the United States (Statistical Data): About 90% of people in most societies get married.

What attracts people in selecting another as a mate and marriage partner? Studies conducted by psychologists as early as the 1950s showed that proximity influences attraction: People who live close to each other are more likely to like one another. Findings from more recent studies support these early findings. Researches showed that people who live close together are more likely to get married. In the United States, physical attractiveness is an important ingredient of interpersonal relationships, but attractiveness may be more important in male preference for females than the reverse.

Most people surveyed in the United States prefer physically attractive partners in romantic relationships. But a matching hypothesis also suggests that people of approximately equal physical characteristics are likely to select each other as partners. Likewise, a similarity hypothesis suggests that people similar image, race, religion, social class, education, intelligence, attitudes, and physical attractiveness tend to form intimate relationships. Certainly, there is something safe about similarities in a relationship that make similar partners particularly attractive for romance and love.

Few people in the United States would discount the importance of love in the development and maintenance of long-term relationships such as friendship and marriage, and love has been a particularly well studied topic in American psychology. Hatfield and Berscheid’s theory of love and attachment proposes that romantic relationships are characterized by two kinds of love. One is passionate love, involving absorption of another that includes sexual feelings and intense emotion. The second is companionate love, involving warm, trusting, and tolerant affection for another life is deeply intertwined with one’s own.

Sternberg’s theory is similar to Hatfield and Berscheid’s but divides companionate love into two separate components: intimacy and commitment. Intimacy refers to warmth, closeness, and sharing in a relationship. Commitment refers to an intention to maintain a relationship in spite of the difficulties that arise. In Sternberg’s theory, seven different forms of love can exist, depending on the presence or absence of each of the three factors: passionate love, intimacy, and commitment. For instance, infatuation is passion alone, without intimacy or commitment; romantic love is a combination of passion and intimacy, but without commitment.

When all three factors are present, Sternberg calls that relationship consummate love. Conclusion: In this paper, various considerations regarding what makes people attractive, how cultural differences affect, the selection of a life partner & how different cultures view the aspect of ‘attractiveness’ differently has been discussed. It is also clear that different situations or circumstances make people behave differently. All the various behavioural patterns & other features discussed above are the perfect mixtures for what is termed as ‘attractive’.


1. Buss, D. M. The evolution of human intra-sexual competition: Tactics of mate attraction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 616–628. 2. Buss, D. M. , Sex differences in human mate preferences: Evolutionary hypotheses tested in 37 cultures. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 12, 1–49 3. International Encyclopaedia of Behavioral & Social Sciences (Page-149) 4. http://jfmueller. faculty. noctrl. edu/crow/topicattraction. htm 5. http://psypress. co. uk/smithandmackie/resources/topic. asp? topic=ch11-tp-01 6. Interpersonal Attraction (http://www. nd. edu/~rwilliam/xsoc530/attraction. html) 7. http://users. ipfw. edu/bordens/social/attract. htm

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Attraction in Social Psychology. (2017, Jan 28). Retrieved from

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