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FAMILY BACKGROUND/ATTRACTION. Part 1: Family Background. Why examine family background? Background influence – The family is the chief socializing influence on children. Children learn about social relations via modeling and rewards and punishments.

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Part 1: Family Background


Why examine family background?

    • Background influence –
      • The family is the chief socializing influence on children.
      • Children learn about social relations via modeling and rewards and punishments.
      • The extent of family influence is contingent on the child’s personality and how they react to the environment.

How do we overcome negative influence?

    • Examine your family background and develop a self understanding.
    • Take responsibility for your past.
    • Make peace with the past.

Areas of Influence

    • Parental attitudes toward children/the importance of approval and acceptance
      • If parents love and approve of children, children develop high self esteem and feel they are loveable and capable of being loved.
      • Parents who criticize make children insecure in marriage, sensitive to criticism, jealous.
      • Parents who ignore children lead children to feel inferior or unworthy. In turn, they will expect partner to fulfill unmet needs.

Attitudes toward the opposite sex (based on psychodynamic theory )

    • Boys attitudes toward women
      • If boys had good relationships with mother and sisters, they will learn to like women.
      • If father had good relationships with mother and daughters, sons will repeat this pattern of relationships toward women.
      • If father was hostile and cruel toward women, boys will dislike and distrust women.
      • If mother was controlling, abusive or cruel to husbands and sons, boys will later resent women.

Attitudes toward the opposite sex (based on psychodynamic theory )

    • Girls attitudes toward men
      • If girls had good relationships with father and brothers, they will learn to like men.
      • If mother had good relationships with father and sons, daughters will repeat this pattern of relationships toward men.
      • If mother were hostile, cruel, or distrusting toward men, daughters will dislike and distrust men.
      • If father were hostile or cruel toward wives and daughters, daughters will learn to dislike men.

Family Attitudes toward Physical and Verbal Affection

    • Children in undemonstrative families, or families who don’t express affection, they have difficulty expressing affection as adults.
    • If children are deprived of affection as a child, they may expect or demand it from mates.
  • Attitudes towards Sex
    • It is best for parents to be open and accepting about nudity and sexuality.
    • Parents who cover up children and attempt to repress sexual desires may lead children to have discomfort around their own sexuality or be hypersexual as young adults.

Gender Role Socialization

    • A gender role is a person’s outward expression of maleness or femaleness in a social setting.
    • Children learn masculinity and femininity via modeling and identification.
    • Areas influenced by gender roles are masculine and feminine traits, division of role responsibilities, and vocational roles.
    • Children who come from more flexible gender roles may become more flexible, and from more traditional may become more traditional.

Family Values and Work Habits

    • Children learn work ethics from their family environment.
    • Children learn materialism from their family environment.
  • Communication
    • Effective communication is essential to a good marriage. It includes listening, understanding, being open, positive, supportive and discussing conflict reasonably.
    • We learn communication styles, open vs. closed, dominant vs. submissive, etc. from our family environment.

( See Chapter 1 of your book for other influences outside of the family).


Attraction – Definition:

    • cognitive – a belief; structure of knowledge about another person
    • affective – a feeling/emotion about another person
    • behavior – the tendency to approach or avoid another person

Theories of Attraction (to be explained in class)

    • Balance theory
    • Reinforcement theory - definition
      • Gain loss theory – a person who provides a gain in esteem is more liked than a constant rewarder
        • anxiety reduction – negative evaluation causes anxiety, gain condition reduces anxiety and results in positive feelings towards the evaluator
        • competence- if evaluator changes opinion over time, it may be due to hard efforts of the person being evaluated, leads to a positive sense of competence
        • discernment – change in opinion over time of evaluator implies s/he is a discerning individual. Discernment proves the person is worthy.
        • contrast – positive things following negative makes the positive seem more so in contrast.

Factors that Affect Attractiveness –

    • Proximity – Frequent precursor to attractiveness
    • Physical attractiveness
      • Physical attractiveness vs. Character/Personality (notes to be given in class)
      • The importance of physical attractiveness
        • matching hypothesis – we tend to pick mates similar in attractiveness to ourselves
        • couple attractiveness – Study
      • Standards of Attractiveness

Other factors: Personality and Social factors

    • Similarity – we tend to like those who are similar to us in attitudes, opinions, and preferences.
    • Complementarity – opposites attract, seems to be less strong than similarity.
    • Reciprocity – we like those who like us.
    • Personality is also important – people with positive personality. qualities are more liked than those who possess negative qualities, extroversion is very important in first impressions.
    • Self disclosure – how much we tell others about personal things, as long as it is appropriate disclosure, may facilitate attraction.
    • Unconscious factors – sometimes we do not know what attracts us, someone may be reminiscent of a parent we were close to or they have qualities we wish we had - some believe in a concept known as “physical chemistry”.