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Attraction is the force that drives bodies or people together, in social psychology the definition of interpersonal attraction is an attitude of liking or disliking.

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Anna Moore                 Psychology coursework


Attraction is the force that drives bodies or people together, in social psychology the definition of  interpersonal attraction is an attitude of liking or disliking (negative attraction) (Bersheid, 1976) Many factors; proximity, similarity, reciprocity and physical appearance contribute to interpersonal attraction.

Proximity; If we come into contact with someone either socially or at work frequently we are more likely to form an attraction with them rather than someone who we rarely see. Adults reported an increased liking for a photo of a stranger simply as a result of being exposed to a photo many times (Moreland and Zajonc, 1982)

Reciprocity; The tendency to return feelings and attitudes that are expressed about us. We tend to like those who like us and reject those who reject us. When we are admired and complimented we are inclined to return those feelings and behaviours. Walster (1965) did a study about reciprocity, women in a waiting room were approached by a good looking male (confederate) who asked them for a date. They then entered the experiment room where they were made to feel either positive about themselves or negative about themselves. He found that the women who had been led to feel negatively about themselves felt considerably more attracted to their male admirer than those who had been led to feel positively about themselves.

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Aim: We aim to recreate Murstein’s “similarity of attractiveness between newly married couples” study, thus investigating his matching hypothesis theory

Alternative hypothesis:There is a positive correlation between the perceived attractiveness of the female and the perceived attractiveness of the male that she marries

Null hypothesis: There is no significant correlation between the perceived attractiveness of the male and female and the perceived attractiveness of the male that she marries. Any significant correlation will be due to chance factors

We are going to use  a directional hypothesis as we can predict the out come of the study due to similar studies to this having been done before.

We will use a significance level of 5% (P ≤ 0.05) As this is the standard level for psychological research to be tested at. This means that out of every 100 pieces of data collected 5 will be due to chance.

We are going to test the significance of our results using ‘Spearman’s Rho’ as we require correlational analysis and because our data will be ordinal



We are going to use a non experimental method due to the nature of the research. There will be no IV or DV because we are not doing a true experiment we will be using a correlational design to complete our study. There are advantages to conducting the study in this way:

  • There is greater ecological validity
  • It is possible to compare to variables where it is not possible to conduct an experiment.

As well as disadvantages:

  • There is a lack of internal validity due to a lack of control
  • It is not possible to deduce cause and effect as you cannot say that it is purely someone’s attractiveness that makes them get married; there may be many other variables that are not possible to control.

The two variables we will be comparing are the perceived attractiveness of the female and the perceived attractiveness of the male in a couple.

Control of confounding variables:

Participant variability:

  • Standardised instructions will be used to make sure that the participants in the study are all given exactly them same instructions and are not given any extra information than others.
  • Participants will all be chosen from a similar catchment area so that there won’t be any regional difference in the perception of attractiveness
  • We will use participants aged between 15-50 because any one younger than 15 may have a different view of attractiveness as may someone over 50
  • We will have to make sure that none of our participants have taken part in a similar study before because this may bias their results
  • We will make sure that there is an equal spread of gender between the participants. Half male and half female.
  • None of the couples should be recognisable by participants in the study as this could result in biases. To deal with this non of the photos will be taken from local newspapers, nor will they be famous people
  • The photos will all be the same size and quality and will all be black and white photocopies of the originals so that no photos appear more attractive or different from the rest based on photo quality.
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They were then read a set of standardised instructions (see participant variability) telling them how to do the experiment: ‘could you please rate these photographs in order of attractiveness starting with the most attractive first’ They were shown the male photos and asked to rank them in order of attractiveness, by sorting the photos which had been cut so that they are separated and can be lined up on a table. We recorded them in our table 1-10 in rank order, 10 being the most attractive, giving us ordinal data. Once they had completed this they were shown the female photos and asked to rank them in order of attractiveness (or vice versa if they are in group B. We are using counter balancing to balance the effects of practice and fatigue)We will then show them the actual couples and tell them who they said were the most and least attractive and who they were married to. They will be told what their results indicate. We will also explain to them the true nature of the experiment and what the results are that we are looking for.The participants will then be thanked for helping us with our study.

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