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Chapter 10. Interpersonal Attraction: From First Impressions to Close Relationships. Chapter Outline. I. Major Antecedents of Attraction. Major Antecedents of Attraction. Human beings are the most social of social animals and the desire to be liked and accepted is very strong.

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chapter 10

Chapter 10

Interpersonal Attraction:

From First Impressions to Close Relationships

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

chapter outline
Chapter Outline

I. Major Antecedents of Attraction

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

major antecedents of attraction
Major Antecedents of Attraction

Human beings are the most social of social animals and the desire to be liked and accepted is very strong.

According to Berscheid (1985) matters of interpersonal attraction are of life-and-death importance.

Friendships and close relationships are at or near the top of the list of what people say makes them happy; people desire to be liked by even the most casual of acquaintances.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

The Person Next Door: The Propinquity Effect

One of the simplest determinants of interpersonal attraction is proximity—sometimes called propinquity.

The finding that the more we see and interact with people, the more likely they are to become our friends is known as the propinquity effect.

And it works at the micro level (see Festinger et al, 1950 friendship formation study; Fig. 10.1).

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

The Person Next Door: The Propinquity Effect

Festinger et al (1950) found that attraction and propinquity rely not only on actual physical distance but also on functional distance.

Functional distance is defined as certain aspects of architectural design that make it likely some people will come into contact with each other more often than others, e.g., people living near mailboxes.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

The Person Next Door: The Propinquity Effect

The propinquity effect works because of familiarity, or mere exposure—the finding that the more exposure we have to a stimulus, the more apt we are to like it (see Moreland & Beach, 1992 classroom study; Fig. 10.2).

Unless exposure creates an initial negative impression (e.g., the guy’s an obnoxious jerk), greater exposure leads to greater liking.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

The Person Next Door: The Propinquity Effect

Computer-mediated communication offers a new twist on the propinquity effect.

McKenna and Bargh (2000) found that two people liked each other more if their first encounter was via an internet chat room, rather than a face-to-face meeting.

They also liked each other more on a second face-to-face meeting if their first meeting was on the internet.

Whether or not this translates into a long-term relationship awaits further research.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

Similarity

Are we attracted more to people who are similar to us (similarity), or are we more attracted to people who are opposite to us (complimentarity)? Answer: those who are similar.

Dozens of studies have shown that if all you know about a person (whom you’ve never met) is his or her opinions on several issues, the more similar those opinions are to yours, the more you like him or her.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

Similarity

Does similarity predict friendship formation when people meet for the first time? Yes (see Newcomb, 1961 dormitory study).

Men became friends with those who were demographically similar (e.g., shared rural background), as well as with those who were similar in attitudes.

For some people, similarity of activity preferences is a stronger predictor of attraction than is similarity of attitudes (Jamieson et al, 1987 U of Waterloo study).

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

Why is similarity so important in attraction? There three possibilities:

Similarity

  • We assume that people who are similar to us will like us.
  • People who are similar provide us with important social validation for our characteristics and beliefs, ie, they provide us with a feeling that we are right.
  • We assume that people who are similar to us on important characteristics are people that we would like to interact with.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

Reciprocal Liking

One of the most potent determinants of our liking someone is if we believe that that person likes us—reciprocal liking.

Reciprocal liking effects can only occur if we like ourselves. People with negative self-concepts tend to be skeptical that others actually do like them and therefore may not reciprocate liking.

Reciprocal liking can come about because of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

Reciprocal Liking

In a study by Curtis and Miller (1968) participants who thought they were liked behaved in more likeable ways with their partner (e.g., disclosed more about themselves, warmer, more pleasant manner) than those who thought they were disliked.

And their partners liked them more than did the partners of students who thought they were disliked (see Fig. 10.3)—a self-fulfilling prophecy.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

The Effects of Physical Attractiveness on Liking

In addition to propinquity, similarity, and reciprocal liking, physical attractiveness is a major determinant of liking in studies of first impressions (see Walster and colleagues, 1966).

This is true of homosexual as well as heterosexual couples (Sergios & Cody, 1985).

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

The Effects of Physical Attractiveness on Liking

There is a bit of a dilemma here. When people are asked about the qualities they desire in a dating partner or a mate, physical attractiveness is not at the top of the list.

Yet, when it comes to their actual behaviour (e.g., choosing a date) appearance seems to be the only thing that matters.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

The Effects of Physical Attractiveness on Liking

Are people unaware of the importance they place on looks, or are they unwilling to admit that they so highly value such a superficial characteristic?

Findings from Hadjistavropoulos and Genest’s (1994) lie detector study suggests that we are indeed aware of the value we place on looks, but as long as we can get away with it we won’t admit it.

Finally, although both sexes value attractiveness, men do so more than women.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

Physical Attractiveness: Cultural standards of Beauty

Studies show that men give high attractiveness ratings to women’s faces with large eyes, a small nose, a small chin, prominent cheekbones and narrow cheeks high eyebrows, large pupils and a big smile.

Women give high ratings to malefaces with large eyes, prominent cheekbones, a large chin and a big smile (Cunningham et al, 1995).

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

Physical Attractiveness: Cultural standards of Beauty

There is some overlap in men’s and women’s ratings. Both sexes admire large eyes in the opposite sex, considered a ‘babyface’ feature which elicits feelings of warmth and nurturance.

Both sexes admire prominent cheekbones in the opposite sex, an adult feature that is found only in the faces of those who are sexually mature.

Female faces that are considered beautiful have more babyface features (e.g., small nose, small chin) than the handsome male face.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

Physical Attractiveness: Cultural standards of Beauty

Are people’s perceptions of what is beautiful or handsome similar across cultures? Yes.

Cross-cultural studies suggest that there are universal dimensions of faces that are attractive to the species, perhaps due to evolutionary mechanisms.

Attractive faces for both sexes are those whose features are the arithmetic mean for the species,

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

Physical Attractiveness: Cultural standards of Beauty

-ie, research participants judge the composite photograph (arithmetic mean) as more attractive than the individual photographs that make up the composite.

This was true for both male and female photographs.

The face composites produce what the researchers call a typical or ‘familar’ face.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

Physical Attractiveness: Cultural standards of Beauty

  • Similar cultural perceptions of beauty (cont’d)
  • Perrett et al (1994) created two types of composites,
  • average attractive composite made up of 60 individual photos, and
  • ii) the high attractive composite made of 15 photos from the original 60 that had received the highest attractiveness ratings.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

Physical Attractiveness: Cultural standards of Beauty

Perrett et al (1994) study (cont’d)

Results of ratings from research participants in Great Britain and Japan showed that the high attractive composites were rated as being more attractive than the average attractive composites.

Thus, both Japanese and British participants view the high and average attractive composites similarly, supporting the notion of universality of perception of attractiveness.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

Physical Attractiveness: Assumptions about Attractive People

People assume that physical attractiveness is highly correlated with other desirable traits; this is known as the “what is beautiful is good” stereotype.

This applies to young university students, and older people of both sexes, except when older men are making judgments of older and younger women, they ascribe more positive traits to younger women.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

Physical Attractiveness: Assumptions about Attractive People

The what is beautiful is good phenomenon applies to rather narrow area—that of social competence.

A meta analysis showed that physical attractiveness has the largest effect on both men’s and women’s judgments about social competence: the beautiful are thought to be more sociable, extraverted, and popular than the less attractive.

They are also seen as more sexual, more happy, and more assertive.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

Physical Attractiveness: Assumptions about Attractive People

Thus, the “what is beautiful is good” phenomenon does have some empirical support (see Roszell et al, 1989 study).

The association between physical attractiveness and sociability seems likely due to a self-fulfilling prophecy

The way we treat people affects how they behave and ultimately, how they perceive themselves.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

Physical Attractiveness: Assumptions about Attractive People

Can a ‘regular’ person be made to act like a ‘beautiful’ one through the self-fulfilling prophecy? Yes at least with male participants (see Snyder et al, 1977 study).

This study was later replicated using women participants, and the results were the same.

-ie, women acted on their stereotype of beauty, and the men responded accordingly.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

Physical Attractiveness: Cultural Differences

The “what is beautiful is good” phenomenon appears to operate across cultures (see Wheeler & Kim, 1977;Table 10.1).

In this study, Korean male and female participants thought the more physically attractive people would also be more socially skilled, friendly, and well-adjusted__the same group of traits that North American participants thought went with physical attractiveness.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

Physical Attractiveness: Cultural Differences

However, Korean and North American students did differ in some of the other traits they assigned to the beautiful;

These differences highlight what is considered important and valuable in each culture.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Major Antecedents of Attraction

Physical Attractiveness: Cultural Differences

-ie, the North American students, who live in individualist cultures that value independence, individuality, and self-reliance, the ‘beautiful’ stereotype included traits of personal strength.

-ie, Korean students, who live in a collectivist culture that values harmonious group relations, the ‘beautiful’ stereotype included traits of integrity and concern for others (Table 10.1)

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

chapter outline1
Chapter Outline

II. Forming Close Relationships: Defining Love

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

forming close relationships
FormingClose Relationships

Until recently, there was little research in social psychology on enduring relationships, because they are more difficult to study scientifically:

  • random assignment is impossible
  • The complex feelings of love can be hard to measure

One aspect of enduring relationships is love.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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FormingClose Relationships

Defining Love: Two Kinds

There seem to be multiple kinds of love; different scales to measure these have been developed in the past decade.

Berscheid and Walster (1974) have suggested two kinds of love:

  • companionate
  • passionate

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

forming close relationships2
FormingClose Relationships

Defining Love: Two Kinds

Companionate love is the feelings of intimacy and affection we feel for another person when we care deeply for the person, but do not necessarily experience passion or arousal in his or her presence.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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FormingClose Relationships

Defining Love: Two Kinds

Passionate love is the feeling of intense longing, accompanied by physiological arousal, we feel for another person.

When our love is reciprocated, we feel great fulfillment and ecstasy, but when it is not, we feel sadness and despair.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Forming Close Relationships

Defining Love: Sternberg’s Triangular Theory

Sternberg developed the triangular theory of love. This is the idea that different kinds of love consist of varying degrees of three components: intimacy, passion, and commitment.

Intimacy refers to feelings of being close to and bonded with a partner.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Forming Close Relationships

Defining Love: Sternberg’s Triangular Theory

Passion refers to feelings of arousal and sexual attraction.

Commitment consists of two decisions, i) the short-term one to love your partner, and ii) the long-term one to maintain that love and stay with your partner.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Forming Close Relationships

Defining Love: Sternberg’s Triangular Theory

These three ingredients, intimacy, passion and commitment, can be combined in various degrees to form different kinds of love (see Fig. 10.4).

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Forming Close Relationships

Defining Love: Ordinary People’s Definition

Ordinary people’s definition of love mirrors that of Berscheid and Hatfield’s companionate/ passionate distinction:

Companionate kinds of love: friendship love, familial love, maternal love.

Passionate kinds of love: romantic love, passionate love, infatuation love.

Companionate love was seen as capturing the meaning of love more so than passionate love (see Fehr, 1988; Table 10.2).

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Forming Close Relationships

Love: Gender

Research typically finds that men fall in love more quickly than women and are more likely to endorse romantic beliefs such as ‘True love lasts forever.’

In contrast, women hold a more practical, friendship-based orientation to love (essentially, a companionate view of love).

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Forming Close Relationships

Love: Gender

Recently, it has been found that women’s and men’s views of love are more similar than has been thought

Although men rate romantic, passionate kinds of love higher than women, both sexes give these kinds of love the lowest ratings and companionate love the highest ratings.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Forming Close Relationships

Love: The Role of Culture

Although love is a human emotion experienced everywhere on the planet, culture does play a role in how people label their experiences and in what they expect (and tolerate) in close relationships.

(see, for example, Japanese, Chinese, Korean concepts of love, and how they compare with Western culture).

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Forming Close Relationships

Love: Individualistic & Collectivistic Societies

People who live in individualistic societies are more likely to emphasize passionate love than are people who live in collectivist cultures, where companionate love is valued.

Romantic love has less value in collectivist societies than in individualistic societies.

Thus, Love varies in definition and behaviour in different societies.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

chapter outline2
Chapter Outline

III. Forming Close Relationships: Why do we Fall in Love?

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

why do we fall in love
Why do we Fall in Love?
  • Why are people so highly motivated to seek loving relationships?
  • Answers to this question comes under three general headings:
  • Evolutionary explanations of love;
  • Attachment styles and intimate relationships; and
  • Social exchange theories.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Evolutionary Explanations of Love

The evolutionary approach is derived from evolutionary biology, which states that men and women are attracted to different characteristics in each other because these maximize reproductive success—

men are attracted to women’s appearance;

women are attracted by men’s resources.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Evolutionary Explanations of Love

Buss and his colleagues (1985) suggest that the evolutionary approach explains the different strategies of men and women in romantic (love) relationships.

Men look for a female who is capable of reproducing successfully—indicated by physical appearance, age, health.

Women respond to the economic and career achievements of men since these indicate resources that they and their offspring will need.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Evolutionary Explanations of Love

There is considerable empirical support for hypotheses derived from evolutionary theory.

There are also criticism and controversy:

Some researchers argue that the theory is untestable; because of its flexibility it can be used to explain anything.

Others say it is an oversimplification of extremely complex behaviour.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Evolutionary Explanations of Love

Still others note that the preference for different qualities in a male or a female can be explained without the use of evolutionary psychology.

The fact that women generally have less power, status, wealth, and other resources than men do, and must rely on men to provide economic security means women must consider this in their selection of a mate.

Men, on the other hand, because of their resources and status position can afford to choose mates using more frivolous criteria such as good looks.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Evolutionary Explanations of Love

It should be noted that in surveys asking people how important and desirable various characteristics were in choosing a marriage partner, both men and women listed honesty, trustworthiness, and a pleasant personality as their top choices.

Other studies of relationships in several countries, found that the more economic power women had in a given culture, the more women were interested in a physically attractive man.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Evolutionary Explanations of Love

More research is needed before we will fully understand the extent to which human love follows a biological imperative.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Attachment Styles and Intimate Relationships

Another theory of love, attachment theory, states that our behaviour in adult relationships is based on our experiences as an infant with our parents, or caregivers.

Attachment styles are the expectations people develop about relationships with others, based on the relationships they had with their primary caregiver when they were infants.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Attachment Styles and Intimate Relationships

Ainsworth et al (1978) identified three types of relationships between infants and their mothers:

i) Secure attachment style

ii) Avoidant attachment style

iii) Anxious/ambivalent attachment style

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Attachment Styles and Intimate Relationships

The secure attachment style develops in those who have responsive caregivers as infants and is characterized by i) trust, ii) a lack of concern with being abandoned, and iii) the view that one is worthy and well-liked.

These infants trust their caregiver, are not worried about being abandoned, and come to view themselves as worthy and loved.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Attachment Styles and Intimate Relationships

The avoidant attachment style develops in those who have aloof and distant caregivers as infants and is characterized by a suppression of attachment needs, because attempts to be intimate have been rebuffed.

The infants desire to be close to their caregiver but learn to suppress this need, as if they know that attempts to be intimate will be rejected.

People with this style find it difficult to become close to other people.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Attachment Styles and Intimate Relationships

The anxious/ambivalent attachment style develops in those who had inconsistent and overbearing caregivers as infants.

It is characterized by a concern that others will not reciprocate one’s desire for intimacy, resulting in higher than average levels of anxiety.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Attachment Styles and Intimate Relationships

The anxious/ambivalent attachment style: the infants are usually anxious because they can never predict when and how their caregivers will respond to their needs.

People with this style desperately seek closeness to others, but experience mixed, conflicting feelings even when they are in a loving relationship.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Attachment Styles and Intimate Relationships

A fundamental premise of attachment theory is that based on their interactions with their primary caregiver, people develop expectations about relationships.

Do people with different attachment styles have different expectations for relationships? Yes (see Baldwin et al, 1993).

Other research supports attachment theory (see Hazab & Shaver, 1987).

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Attachment Styles and Intimate Relationships

A recent development in attachment theory is Bartholomew’s proposal that there are two kinds of avoidant attachment:

i) fearful avoidant

ii) dismissive avoidant

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Attachment Styles and Intimate Relationships

Fearful avoidant attachment style: the person desires intimate relationships, but avoids them because they are afraid to trust others and worry that they will be hurt if they allow themselves to become too close to another person.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Attachment Styles and Intimate Relationships

Dismissive avoidant style: these persons claim that they do not need close relationships, but rather prefer to be independent and self-sufficient.

Research at Simon Fraser university has confirmed the distinction between fearful avoidant style and defensive avoidant attachment style (Bartholomew & Horowiz, 1991; Table 10.3).

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Attachment Styles and Intimate Relationships

People with a fearful avoidant style have a negative view of themselves and of other people, whereas

People with a dismissive avoidant style have a positive view of themselves, but a negative view of others.

People with a fearful style also report greater distress when a romantic relationship ends than do those with a dismissive style.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Attachment Styles and Intimate Relationships

Securely attached individuals have the most satisfying, enduring relationships, whereas

avoidant individuals are the most likely to report never having been in a loving, romantic relationship.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Attachment Styles and Intimate Relationships: Multiple Attachment

Recent research suggests that rather than possessing one single attachment style that applies to all of our relationships, we can have different kinds of attachment to different people in our lives.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Attachment Styles and Intimate Relationships: Multiple Attachment

Research by Pierce & Lydon (2001) showed that people’s overall attachment style is correlated with, but distinct from, their attachment in specific relationships (eg, mother, best friend, romantic partner), and

that over time, attachment to specific partners changed in the direction of global, overall attachment, rather than vice versa.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Attachment Styles and Intimate Relationships: Stable Personality Traits or Flexible Schemas?

Recent theorists suggest that attachment styles might best be conceptualized as schemas, rather than as stable personality traits.

They have shown that attachment styles function as schemas, and thus are amenable to change.

This is good news because it implies that people can learn new and healthier ways of relating to others than they experienced in infancy.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Social Exchange Theories

Social exchange and equity theories are based on the notion that relationships operate on an economic model of costs and benefits.

Social exchange theory states that how people feel about their relationships will depend on,

i)their perception of the rewards they receive from the relationship,

ii)their perception of the costs they incur,

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Social Exchange Theories

social exchange theory (cont’d)

iii)their perception of what kind of relationship they deserve, and

iv)theprobabilitythat they could have a better relationship with someone else.

The basic concepts of social exchange theory, therefore, are reward, cost, outcome, comparison level, and comparison level for alternatives (Thibaut & Kelly, 1959).

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Social Exchange Theories

The outcomeof the relationship is based on a calculation of the reward/cost ratio. If this is negative, the relationship is not in good shape.

Reward/cost ratio in social exchange theory is the notion that there is a balance between the rewards that come from a relationship and the personal cost of maintaining the relationship.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Social Exchange Theories

Comparison level: people’s expectations about the level of rewards and punishments they deserve in a relationship.

If a given relationship doesn’t match the expected comparison level, people will be unhappy and unsatisfied.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Social Exchange Theories

How satisfied you are with your relationship also depends on your comparison level for alternatives.

Comparison level for alternatives: People’s expectations about the level of rewards and punishments they would receive in an alternative relationship.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Social Exchange Theories

Social exchange theory has received a great deal of empirical support. People do pay attention to the costs and rewards in their relationships, and these affect how people feel about a relationship.

There is also evidence that people are more likely to end a relationship when they perceive that attractive alternatives are available.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Social Exchange Theories: Equity Theory

Proponents of equity theory argue that people are not just out to get the most rewards for the least cost; they are also concerned about equity in their relationships.

Equity theory holds that people are happiest with relationships in which the rewards and costs a person experiences and the contributions he/she makes to the relationship are roughly equal to the rewards, costs, and contributions of the other person.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Why do we Fall in Love?

Social Exchange Theories: Equity Theory

According to equity theory both underbenefited and overbenefited partners should feel badly about an inequity and be motivated to restore equity in the relationship.

Research, however, suggests that this is not entirely true. Underbenefit in a relationship is seen as more of a problem by the underbenefited individual,

than is overbenefit seen by the overbenefited individual.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

chapter outline3
Chapter Outline

IV. Maintaining Close Relationships

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

maintaining close relationships
Maintaining Close Relationships

Social Exchange in Long-Term Relationships

There is considerable empirical support for social exchange theory in intimate relationships. However, rewards, costs, and alternatives are not the whole story.

One other variable that comes into play is personal investment in the relationship (Rusbult, 1980).

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

maintaining close relationships1
Maintaining Close Relationships

Social Exchange in Long-Term Relationships

The investment model of relationships holds that people’s commitment to a relationship depends on their satisfaction with the relationship in terms of

i) the rewards, costs, and comparison level

ii) their comparison level for alternatives

iii) how much they have invested in the relationship that would be lost by leaving it (see Fig. 10.5)

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

maintaining close relationships2
Maintaining Close Relationships

Social Exchange in Long-Term Relationships

In a test of this model, Rusbult (1983) asked students involved in heterosexual dating relationships to complete questionnaires for seven months (Fig 10.5).

He found that people’s satisfaction, alternatives, and investments all predicted how committed they were to the relationships and whether it lasted (Fig 10.6).

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

maintaining close relationships3
Maintaining Close Relationships

Social Exchange in Long-Term Relationships

Subsequent studies have found similar results for heterosexual dating couples, married couples of diverse ages, lesbian and gay couples, close friends, people in destructive relationships, and residents of the US, Netherlands, and Taiwan__ support for the investment model.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Maintaining Close Relationships

Exchange & Equity in Long-Term Relationships

Does equity theory operate in long-term relationships in the same way it does in new or less intimate relationships? Not exactly.

In casual relationships we trade ‘in kind’, eg, you lend someone your class notes and he buys you a beer.

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Maintaining Close Relationships

Exchange & Equity in Long-Term Relationships

In intimate relationships we trade very different resources and it can be difficult to determine if equity has been achieved

-eg, Does a ‘dinner out at an expensive restaurant balance out three nights of neglect due to a heavy workload?’

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.

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Maintaining Close Relationships

Exchange & Equity in Long-Term Relationships

According to Clark and Mills, interactions between new acquaintances are governed by equity concerns and are called exchange relationships.

Exchange relationships are relationships governed by the need for equity, ie, for a comparable ratio of rewards and costs.

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Maintaining Close Relationships

Exchange & Equity in Long-Term Relationships

On the other hand, interactions between close friends, family members, and romantic partners are governed less by equity and more by a desire to help each other in times of need (see Clark & Mills). These are called communal relationships.

Communal relationships are relationships in which people’s primary concern is being responsive to the other person’s needs.

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Maintaining Close Relationships

Exchange & Equity in Long-Term Relationships

Research supports social exchange theory.

Studies show that people in exchange relationships operate according to the equity norm (see Fig. 10.7), and,

That people in communal relationships are concerned with the needs of others.

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Maintaining Close Relationships

Exchange & Equity in Long-Term Relationships

In general,

close relationships can have either exchange or communal properties;

family relationships are typically communal;

acquaintanceships are based on exchange, although they can become communal if they grow into friendships.

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Maintaining Close Relationships

The Role of Adversity in Maintaining Relationships

  • Does adversity strengthen or weaken relationships?
  • It depends on two factors:
  • the level of adversity, and
  • the level of commitment to the relationship.

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Maintaining Close Relationships

The Role of Adversity in Maintaining Relationships

The commitment calibration hypothesis specifies how a relationship is affected by the ratio of adversity to the level of commitment:

  • If the level of adversity is lower than the level of commitment, the relationship is not challenged.
  • If the level of adversity is higher than the level of commitment, the relationship ends.
  • If the level of adversity is equal to the level of commitment, the relationship is strengthened.

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Maintaining Close Relationships

The Role of Positive Illusions

When conflicts appear, and relationships are challenged, there is an attempt to maintain the relationship by indulging in positive illusions.

Positive illusions are the idealization of our romantic relationships and partners in order to maintain the relationship.

Research has found that the more people idealized their partners (and their partners them) the greater their satisfaction with the relationship, and the more likely the relationship was to endure.

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Maintaining Close Relationships

The Role of Positive Illusions

More recently, researchers have identified another way in which we maintain our relationships, namely,

By finding redeeming features in our partner’s faults.

Do we actually hold idealistic, rather than realistic, views of our partner? Yes.

Is it actually beneficial to see our partners in idealistic ways? Yes.

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Maintaining Close Relationships

The Role of Positive Illusions

Research shows that the more that people idealize their partners (and the more that their partner idealizes them), the greater the satisfaction with the relationships.

In a year long study Murray et al (1996) found that couples who idealized each other at the outset experienced the greatest increases in satisfaction and the greatest decreases in conflicts and doubts, and were more likely to be together one year later.

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Chapter Outline

V. Ending Close Relationships

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Ending Close Relationships

Why Relationships End

In Canada, one-third of marriages end in divorce. Why?

Different kinds of relationships end for different reasons.

Reasons for marriage dissolution include financial difficulties, unemployment, alcoholism, sexual infidelity, etc.

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Ending Close Relationships

Why Relationships End

Reasons for relationship breakups in general include:

  • becoming dissimilar (growing apart)
  • low rewards and high costs (social exchange theory)
  • inequitable relationship (equity theory)
  • boredom

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Ending Close Relationships

The Process of Breaking Up

Baxter (1982) identified four strategies for dissolution of a relationship:

i) withdrawal/avoidance (passive: most people use this strategy)

ii) positive tone (trying to prevent hard feelings)

iii) manipulative strategies (getting a third party to communicate the bad news)

iv) open confrontation

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Ending Close Relationships

The Experience of Breaking Up

While the experience of breaking up is never pleasant, a powerful variable that predicts how a person will weather the breakup is the role he or she plays in the decision to terminate the relationship.

Those who play an active role suffer less.

In Aker’s (1990) study breakees were most upset, breakers least, and mutuals in the middle.

The End

© 2004 Pearson Education Canada Inc.