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Discuss psychological research into interpersonal attraction

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Introduction

DISCUSS PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH INTO INTERPERSONAL ATTRACTION The main explanations relating to interpersonal attraction are physical attraction, attitude similarity and proximity (frequency of interaction). Many studies have been carried out to find out what people may find attractive and why people may date someone similar to themselves in terms of physical attractiveness. Singh(1993) claims that the more curvaceous the female the more attractive she is perceived, due to a portrayal of fertility and 'child bearing hips'. Gangestad claimed that the more symmetrical the face the more attractive it is perceived to be, as people get older they become less symmetrical so this could be a sign of youthfulness. The Sociobiological theory says that for men youth and attractiveness are important in women as they are good signs or healthy reproductive potential. Ellis found that taller men are perceived as more desirable dates than shorter men in western societies however there have been many powerful leaders who have been shorter and not all cultures see height as attractive. ...read more.

Middle

Physical attraction is not just important at first, Murstein & Christy(1976) found that married couples were more similar in attractiveness than dating couples. People tend to like others who are similar to themselves on a range of factors including age, religion and attitudes. Duck & Barnes (1992) found this to be true for all ages. Evidence suggests that the critical similarities are those concerning beliefs, attitudes and values. Newcombe (1961) recruited students and gained information about their beliefs and attitudes to determine who would share rooms. Some were paired with someone with similar attitudes, some with a person with different attitudes. Friendships were more likely to develop between students who shared the same beliefs and attitudes than those who did not. Byrne et al(1961) found that attitude similarity had much more of an effect on attraction when the attitudes were of importance to the individual. Caspi & Herbener(1990) found that married couples tend to be similar on all personality dimensions. Rubin (1973) ...read more.

Conclusion

It seems that people get to like someone the more times they are exposed to them. However frequency of interaction can also produce more disliking. So it may be that it results in greater intensity of feelings which can be positive or negative. Newcombe found that students became friends with their room-mates even when there was an inconsistency in attitudes, supporting that familiarity may be more important than attitude similarity in friendships. A problem is that much research in this area has been artificial and leaves out most of the things people do in everyday life. It is impossible to control the important factors which influence relationship formation, except in highly artificial situations which lack ecological validity. Much of the research has focused on thoughts or attitudes rather than actual social interaction. There has also been a focus on a limited variety of relationships often between young students in America and so there is a danger generalizing from such a limited population. Also there has been too much emphasis on romantic relationships at the expense of other important relationships. ?? ?? ?? ?? Sarah Warbrick 20/9/04 ...read more.

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