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Attraction and Close Relationships. Social Psychology Chapter 9 November 19, 2004 Class #12. The Need to Belong. The need to belong is a basic human motive We care deeply about what others think of us

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attraction and close relationships

Attraction and Close Relationships

Social Psychology

Chapter 9

November 19, 2004

Class #12

the need to belong
The Need to Belong
  • The need to belong is a basic human motive
  • We care deeply about what others think of us
  • Those with a network of close social ties tend to be happier, healthier, and more satisfied with life than those who are more isolated
the thrill of affiliation
The Thrill of Affiliation
  • Need for Affiliation:
    • The desire to establish social contact with others.
    • We are motivated to establish and maintain an optimum balance of social contact.
  • Stress arouses our need for affiliation
    • Fearful misery loves company
    • Embarrassed misery seeks solitude
    • Misery loves the company of those in the same miserable situation
  • Sources
    • Inborn personality trait
    • Learned reaction to failed interactions with others
  • Painful consequences
    • Negative self-evaluations
    • Expectations of failure in social encounters
    • Self-blame for social failures
    • Self-imposed isolation
the agony of loneliness
The Agony of Loneliness
  • A feeling of deprivation about social relations
  • Most likely to occur during times of transition or disruption
  • Loneliest group in American society are those 18 to 30 years old
  • We employ various strategies to combat loneliness
perspectives on attraction
Perspectives on Attraction
  • We are attracted to others with whom a relationship is directly or indirectly rewarding
  • All humans exhibit patterns of attraction and mate selection that favor the conception, birth, and survival of their offspring
    • Evolutionary perspective
familiarity being there
Familiarity: Being There
  • Who are we most likely to become attracted to?
    • Two basic and necessary factors in the attraction process:
      • Proximity
      • Exposure
the proximity effect
The Proximity Effect
  • The single best predictor of attraction is physical proximity, or nearness
  • Where we live influences the friends we make
    • College students tend to date those who live either nearby or in the same type of housing as they do
the mere exposure effect
The Mere Exposure Effect
  • Contrary to folk wisdom, familiarity does not breed contempt
  • The more often we are exposed to a stimulus, the more we come to like that stimulus
  • Familiarity can influence our self-evaluations
here we go again
Here we go again…
  • Physical Attractiveness:
    • We react more favorably to others who are physically attractive than to those who are not
    • Bias for beauty is pervasive
is beauty an objective quality
Is Beauty an Objective Quality?
  • Some argue that certain faces are inherently more attractive than others
    • High levels of agreement for facial ratings across ages and cultures
    • Physical features of the face are reliably associated with judgments of attractiveness
    • Babies prefer faces considered attractive by adults
is beauty a subjective quality
Is Beauty a Subjective Quality?
  • People from different cultures enhance their beauty in very different ways
  • Ideal body shapes vary across cultures, as well as among racial groups within a culture
  • Standards of beauty change over time
  • Situational factors can influence judgments of beauty
why are we blinded by beauty
Why Are We Blinded by Beauty?
  • Inherently rewarding to be in the company of people who are aesthetically appealing
    • Possible intrinsic and extrinsic rewards
  • Tendency to associate physical attractiveness with other desirable qualities
    • What-is-beautiful-is-good stereotype
the physical attractiveness stereotype
The Physical Attractiveness Stereotype
  • People within a culture, assume that attractive people have the traits that are valued by that culture
  • Adults and children are biased toward attractive people
  • Even infants stare at attractive people longer than unattractive people!
  • Lessons begin early – how many ugly heroes are there in children’s tales vs. the number of ugly villians?
the benefits and costs of beauty
The Benefits and Costs of Beauty
  • Being good-looking does not guarantee health, happiness, or high self-esteem
  • Attributional problems with being good-looking:
    • Is the attention and praise one receives due to one’s talents or just one’s good looks?
other costs of beauty
Other Costs of Beauty
  • Pressure to maintain one’s appearance
    • In American society, pressures are particularly strong when it comes to the body
    • Women are more likely than men to suffer from the “modern mania for slenderness”
  • Overall, being beautiful is a mixed blessing
    • Little relationship between appearance in youth and later happiness
this appears to be conflicting research
This appears to be conflicting research…
  • Simpson, Gangestad, & Lerma (1990)
    • People involved in serious relationships rate beautiful models as less attractive
  • Kendrick et al. (1989)
    • Men viewing ravishing nude models in magazines gave lower ratings to average-looking women including their own wives
      • Appears contrast effect is in place here
how important is intelligence
How important is intelligence?
  • Men and women differ in this criterion for sexual partners
  • But not for long-term partners
kenrick sadalla groth trost 1990 kenrick groth trost sadalla 1993
Kenrick, Sadalla, Groth, & Trost (1990) Kenrick, Groth, Trost & Sadalla (1993)
  • Students in these series of studies were asked:
    • What is the minimum percentile of intelligence you would accept in considering someone for:
      • A DATE
minimum intelligence desired
Minimum Intelligence Desired

Women desire slightly above average for a single date






And want more with increasing commitment








Men have similar criteria for dates






And for long-term mates





first encounters liking others who are similar
First Encounters: Liking Others Who Are Similar
  • We tend to associate with others who are similar to ourselves…
    • Byrne (1971):
      • We like people who we perceive as having similar attitudes to our own
    • Rosenbaum (1986):
      • Similarity does not spark attraction; rather dissimilarity triggers repulsion, the desire to avoid someone
matching hypothesis
Matching Hypothesis
  • People tend to become involved romantically with others who are equivalent in their physical attractiveness
  • Matching is predictive of progress in a relationship
do opposites attract
Do Opposites Attract?
  • Is there support for the complementarity hypothesis, which holds that people seek others whose needs “oppose” their own?
    • Research shows that complementarity does not influence attraction
first encounters liking others who like us
First Encounters: Liking Others Who Like Us
  • Heider (1958): People prefer relationships that are psychologically balanced
  • A state of balance exists when the relationship is characterized by reciprocity
    • Mutual exchange between what one gives and what one receives
  • Liking is mutual, which is why we tend to like others who indicate that they like us
first encounters pursuing those who are hard to get
First Encounters: Pursuing Those Who Are Hard to Get
  • Does the hard-to-get effect exist?
    • We prefer people who are moderately selective to those who are nonselective or too selective
    • We are turned off by those who reject us
  • Psychological reactance can increase or decrease attraction
mate selection the evolutionary perspective
Mate Selection: The Evolutionary Perspective
  • Men and women by nature must differ in their optimal mating behaviors
    • Women must be highly selective because they are biologically limited in the number of children they can bear and raise in a lifetime
    • Men can father an unlimited number of children and ensure their reproductive success by inseminating many women
the burger king study
The Burger King Study
  • Townsend & Levy (1990)
    • Who would you prefer: a well-dressed unattractive person or a good-looking person in a Burger King outfit???
cues to resources clothes
Cues to resources – Clothes
  • Burger King study:
    • Townsend and Levy (1990) looked at the effects of male status and ornamentation.
    • First, males were pre-rated into 2 groups:
      • Handsome versus homely
    • Each were put into 1 of 3 costumes:
      • Armani suit with Rolex (high status), white t-shirt (medium status), or Burger King uniform (low status)
design of the study 2x3
Design of the study: 2x3



Armani suit


White t-shirt


BK outfit


  • What do you think happened?
    • Females?
    • Males?
the content of women s mate preferences
The Content of Women’s MatePreferences
  • Social status universal clue to the control of resources
  • Greater social status bestows children with better opportunities
  • Women consistently rate social status as being more desirable in a partner than men do
  • For women, social status rated only slightly less important than good financial prospects
supporting evidence for the evolutionary perspective
Supporting Evidence for the Evolutionary Perspective
  • Universal tendency in desired age for potential mate
    • Men tend to seek younger women
    • Women tend to desire older men
  • Men and women become jealous for different reasons
    • Men become most upset by sexual infidelity
    • Women feel more threatened by emotional infidelity
mate selection sociocultural perspectives
Mate Selection: Sociocultural Perspectives
  • Women trade youth and beauty for money because they often lack direct access to economic power
  • Men are fearful of sexual infidelity because it represents a threat to the relationship, not fatherhood issues
studies of personal ads
Studies of personal ads…
  • Wiederman (1993)
    • A study of 1,111 personal ads found that female advertisers seek financial resources 11 times as often as male advertisers
  • Buss (1989)
    • Looked at 10,047 individuals in 37 cultures on 6 continents and 5 islands
    • Found this was not just restricted to American or Western Societies
gender differences
Gender Differences…
  • The differences typically found between the sexes are small compared to the similarities.
  • But when it comes to casual sex…
    • See next slides…
i have been noticing you around campus i find you very attractive
“I have been noticing you around campus. I find you very attractive.”
  • Clark & Hatfield (1989)
    • In this study, students were approached by another student of the opposite sex, who uttered the above statement…
    • This was followed by one of three invitations:
      • “Would you go out tonight?” or
      • “Would you come over to my apartment?” or
      • “Would you go to bed with me?”

Men were even more likely to say “yes” to the sexual invitation




Not a single woman said “yes” to the sexual invitation

Percent Saying “Yes”

About half of both sexes said “yes” to the date




Go Out

Go to Apt.

Go to Bed

variations in perceptions and reactions
Variations in Perceptions and Reactions
  • Compared to women, men perceive more sexuality in an interaction between a man and a woman
  • This is true whether they are participants or observers
  • However, men see interactions involving their sister as platonic
defining features of love
Defining Features of Love
  • Beverly Fehr (1988) asked Canadian students to list as many features of love as they could in 3 minutes.
    • Students lists commonly included:
      • caring
      • happiness
      • friendship
      • warmth
      • trust
      • commitment
      • euphoria
      • Sexual passion
      • heart rate increases
intimate relationships
Intimate Relationships
  • Often involve three basic components:
    • Feelings of attachment, affection, and love.
    • The fulfillment of psychological needs.
    • Interdependence between partners, each of whom has a meaningful influence on the other.
  • How do first encounters evolve into intimate relationships?
    • By stages or by leaps and bounds?
murstein s 1986 stimulus value role theory
Murstein’s (1986) Stimulus-Value-Role Theory
  • Stimulus Stage: Attraction is sparked by external attributes such as physical appearance
  • Value Stage: Attachment is based on similarity of values and beliefs
  • Role Stage: Commitment is based on the performance of such roles as husband and wife
how do intimate relationships change
How Do Intimate Relationships Change?
  • Most researchers reject idea that intimate relationships progress through a fixed sequence of stages
  • For reward theories of love, quantity counts
  • There are qualitative differences between liking and loving, as well as different forms of love
the intimate marketplace social exchange theory
The Intimate Marketplace:Social Exchange Theory
  • People are motivated to maximize benefits and minimize costs in their relationships with others
  • Relationships that provide more rewards and fewer costs will be more satisfying and endure longer
  • The development of an intimate relationship is associated with the overall level of rewards
relationship expectations
Relationship Expectations
  • Comparison Level :
    • Average expected outcome in relationships
  • Comparison Level for Alternatives:
    • Expectations of what would receive in an alternative situation
    • Investments in relationship increase commitment
the intimate marketplace equity theory
The Intimate Marketplace:Equity Theory
  • Most content with a relationship when the ratio between the benefits and contributions is similar for both partners…
types of relationships
Types of Relationships
  • Exchange Relationships:
    • Participants expect and desire strict reciprocity in their interactions
  • Communal Relationships:
    • Participants expect and desire mutual responsiveness to each other’s needs
secure and insecure attachment styles
Secure and Insecure Attachment Styles
  • Attachment Style:
    • The way a person typically interacts with significant others
    • Is the attachment style we had with our parents related to the attachment style we exhibit in our romantic relationships?


Sternberg (1986): This researcher believes that the long list presented earlier could be reduced to three essential components:

physiological arousal, longing to be with

close bond, sharing, support

willing to define as love, commitment to long term

are there different varieties of love
Are There Different Varieties of Love?
  • Not all types of “love” involve same mix of passion, intimacy, and commitment…
    • Passionate love
      • A state of intense longing for union with another
    • Companionate love
      • Affection and tenderness for those whose lives are entwined with our own
companionate love the self disclosure in it
Companionate Love: The Self-Disclosure in It
  • Form of affection found between close friends as well as lovers
  • Less intense than passionate love
    • But in some respects it is deeper and more enduring
  • Characterized by high levels of self-disclosure
relationship issues sexuality
Relationship Issues: Sexuality
  • Kinsey’s groundbreaking research during 1940s
  • Problems with studying sexual activities:
    • Limitations of self-reports
    • What does it mean to “have sex”?
  • Men view the world in more “sexualized” terms
  • Gender differences in self-report surveys about sexual attitudes and behaviors
what constitutes having sex
What Constitutes “Having Sex”?

Hatfield & Rapson (1987)

obtaining sexual satisfaction
Obtaining Sexual Satisfaction
  • The drive to satisfy a passionate sexual attraction has been known to cause chaos in one’s life
    • The media plays heavily on this idea
      • For example: the movie “Fatal Attraction”
college men and women report several sexual fantasies per day
College men and women report several sexual fantasies per day…
  • Leitenberg and Henning (1995)
    • Did you think about sex even for a moment during the last 5 min?
      • Age < 26:
        • Males 50%,
        • Females 40%
      • 26-55:
        • Males 25%
        • Females 14%
relationship issues sexual orientation
Relationship Issues: Sexual Orientation
  • Sexual orientation is one’s sexual preference for members of the same sex, opposite sex, or both sexes
  • Large scale surveys suggest that
    • 3-4% of men are exclusively homosexual
    • 1-2% of women are exclusively homosexual
  • Incidence of homosexual behavior varies with generations and among cultures
origins of sexual orientation
Origins of Sexual Orientation
  • Little evidence to support many early theories
  • Scientific evidence of a biological disposition
  • Complex issue
    • Are roots for sexual orientation the same for men and women?
    • May be a psychobiological process
relationship issues communication and conflict
Relationship Issues: Communication and Conflict
  • Communication patterns in troubled relationships:
    • Negative affect reciprocity
    • Demand/withdrawal interaction pattern
  • Basic approaches to reducing the negative effects of conflict:
    • Increase rewarding behavior in other aspects of a relationship
    • Try to understand the other’s point of view
attributions and quality of relationship
Attributions and Quality of Relationship
  • Happy couples tend to make relationship-enhancing attributions
  • Unhappy couples tend to make distress-maintaining attributions
the termination of relationships


Relationship Issues: Breaking Up

relationship issues breaking up
Relationship Issues: Breaking Up
  • A relationship is likely to be long-lasting when the couple:
    • Has incorporated each other into one’s self
    • Has become interdependent and have invested much into the relationship
  • But these factors also intensify stress and make coping more difficult after the relationship ends
causes of relationship dissolution
relationships change our personalities
Relationships Change Our Personalities
  • Caspi & Herbener (1990)
    • People married to dissimilar partners change their personalities more over the years
  • The slides in this presentation were prepared by the following:
    • Slide #16:
    • Slides #36-37, 39, 42-43:
    • Slides #72 & #74: