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Social Psychology: The Role of Attraction.

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Amber Lee February 25, 2003 Mr. Crane - Psych I Social Psychology: The Role of Attraction In determining our friends and partners, society's influence, along with our own values for attraction, play an important role. There are varying levels of attraction, which determine the types of relationships people share. The four general factors that contribute to attraction and determine the strength of a relationship are physical attractiveness, proximity, similarity, and reciprocity. Physical attraction is an important dimension of forming an impression of someone. Studies show that we are inclined to think negatively or dislike individuals who are unattractive, and more likely to overlook or pardon the faults of one who is more physically attractive. In an experiment done by Karen Dion (1972), women were given reports with attached photographs of severe classroom disruptions by elementary schoolchildren. The subjects tended to blame the disruptive behavior on the children who were unattractive, saying that it was easy to see that they were "brats." On the other hand, beautiful children were easily excused and received no such comment. ...read more.


As shown in studies by Markus, Kitayama, and Heiman (1996), culture also plays a role in these assumptions. Individualistic societies (U.S. and Canada) further assume that beautiful people are indepedent, assertive, and self-reliant. Collectivist societies (Korea) did not make such assumptions, but rather, assumed that beautiful people had integrity, generosity, sensitivity, and concern for others. An important factor in the selection of our friends is due to proximity. The majority of our friends live close to where we live, or at least where we lived during the time period the friendship developed (Nahemow & Lawton, 1975). In most cases, the more exposure we have to a stimulus, the more apt we are to like it. Proximity strengthens relationships because friendships develop after getting to know someone, and closeness in distance provides the easiest way to accomplish this goal. Segal (1974) observed that seating order according to alphabet predicted close friendships between people who's surnames began with the same letter. In the Westgate Housing research done by Festinger, Schachter, and Back (1950), friendship formation was tracked among families moved into Westgate apartment complexes. ...read more.


People tend to like those better who return the feeling of attraction, and this rewarding feeling of acceptance usually results in a higher level of attraction toward that person (Forgas, 1992; Zajonc & McIntosh, 1992). An alternative explanation would be that reciprocity occurs because it is flattering to the ego (Gilbert & Jones, 1986). According to the 'reward cost principle' we are attracted to people who seem to like us (Aropnson, 1980). This attraction may be based on similarities or shared interests- a person agreeing with our beliefs, ideas and attitudes. This is attributed to the belief that when a person is in agreement with us, they support what we believe, providing us with the reward of reinforcement. Rubin (1973) suggests that the rewarding nature of similarities lies in the basis for joint activities, affirmation through agreement leading to increased self confidence, ease of communication, vanity and reciprocal liking. Attraction relates to social psychology in that society's influence and our own beliefs and values play an important role. Attraction is reinforced through physical attractiveness, proximity, similarity, and reciprocity. In applying these factors to your own relationships, you will find that interpersonal attraction does indeed play a role. ...read more.

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