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Critically Compare the Factors that Affect Interpersonal Attraction and the Development of Relationships

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Critically Compare the Factors that Affect Interpersonal Attraction and the Development of Relationships Interpersonal attraction is the attraction between people which often lead to friendships or romantic and sexual relationship between two people. This essay will aim to critically compare and evaluate the factors that affect interpersonal attraction leading to the development of long-term relationships, evaluating key research, which has been conducted in this area of social psychology. There are several reasons or motives underlying interpersonal attraction. The need for affiliation (naff), need for intimacy and avoidance of loneliness. Most humans are social animals who enjoy the company of others, therefore need to establish and maintain relationships with other fellow humans; this contact provides emotional support, a basis for social comparison and attention. The need for intimacy (nint) is a need to form and maintain close affectionate relationships with others and to share information about themselves and show concern for others. Physical closeness or proximity is an important factor in interpersonal attraction. In order to meet two people must share close proximity, this helps in forming a close relationship. Research by Festinger, et al (1950 see PIP P.690) and Sigall (1973, see Gross, p.409) ...read more.


This is illustrated by the belief that outgoing individuals are attracted to individuals who are shy and reserved. A study done by Winch (1958; see PIP p. 695) thought that opposites attract and were happier. Statistics show that individuals in long-term, relationships prefer to associate with other people who are similar to them. Relationships in which people do not share interpersonal communication styles are frustrating and less likely to flourish as shown by the study done by Burleson, (1994 see Gross). Rosenbaum (1986; see PIP p. 695) found evidence to suggest that dissimilarity of attitudes reduces liking, but no evidence to suggest the other way round. Physical attraction has been shown in studies to be a major determinant in liking at first sight. Regan and Berscheid (1997) found that both sexes rate physical attractiveness as the most important characteristic in determining desire of a sexual partner. Physical attractiveness is highly correlated with other desirable traits and this is known as the "what is beautiful is good stereotype"(Dion, Bercheid &Walster 1972 see Gross). The beautiful are thought to be more sociable, extroverted and more sexual, happier and more assertive, this stereotype appears to operate through cultures as both Korean and North American students agreed on this. Snyder, et al (1977 see Gross p.481) ...read more.


In order for the relationship to survive there needs to be balance of input from both. Equity theory is an improvement on social exchange theory and it seemed to predict satisfaction and liking in relationships, Walster et al (1978, see Gross, p.473). Relationships don't become equitable over time and, equity doesn't predict the stability or quality of relationship (Van Yperen & Buunk 1990). This means that people are happy in relationships if they give and receive love and not necessarily profit from the relationship. Some individuals would be happy to receive love in the relationship and this does not have to be more than they give. Studies in interpersonal attraction have shown a brief insight into how relationships are formed. People available are those with whom there is a lot of contact and this is determined by proximity. Physical proximity reduces the cost of interaction as it's easier to talk to someone near rather than long distance and repeated exposure can produce a more positive attitude. Looks do matter when it comes to forming a relationship. These factors then lead to love that can be passionate, compassionate or altruistic and developing long-term relationships and friendships. Interpersonal attraction is multi faceted and dynamic and the many types of close relationships vary along with the many factors involved. The satisfaction in a relationship and investment are critical to maintain and stabilize the relationship. ...read more.

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