Interpersonal Attraction UWF

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"Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at
each other but in looking outward together in the same
direction." --- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

It is with true love as it is with ghosts; everyone talks about it,
but few have seen it. --- La Rochefoucauld

"When two people are under the influence of the most violent,
most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions,
they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited,
abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death
do them part.“ --- George Bernard Shaw
                    Thought Frequency As Pie Charts
    The           Women                                  Men           relationship
                                       Sports                                Sex

   Men                            Pets
thrashing                       Food                                        bald
  Aging               Things we                 Career
               Having shouldn’t                          Strange ear     Aging
               to pee have eaten                         & nose hair
Alvy's Voice Over: I thought of that old joke, you know,
this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, “Doc, my
brother's crazy. He thinks he's a chicken." And, the
doctor says, "why don't you turn him in?" And the guy
says, “I would, but I need the eggs." Well, I guess that's
pretty much how I feel about relationships. You know,
they're totally irrational and crazy and absurd and...But, I
guess we keep going through it because, uh, most of us
need the eggs.

                      --- ANNIE HALL
Cecilia: i just met a wonderful new man. Sure, he's fictional but you
can't have everything.      ---The Purple Rose of Cairo

Ike: Well, I'm old-fashioned. I don't believe in extramarital
relationships. I think people should mate for life, like pigeons or
Catholics. --- Manhattan

Cliff: Wendy and I finally decided to call it quits, you know, and even
though the last couple of years have been terrible, this kind of thing
makes me feel sad, you know, I don't know why.

Babs: But you know what you told me? You told me it's been platonic
for a year. And I say, once the sex goes, it all goes.
 ---Crimes and Misdemeanors
Arthur: I had dropped out of law school when i met eve. She was
very beautiful. Very pale and cool in her black dress...With never
anything more than a single strand of pearls. And distant. Always
poised and distant.

By the time the girls were born ... It was all so perfect, so ordered.
Looking back, of course, it was rigid. The truth is. .. She'd created
a world around us that we existed in where everything had its
place, where there was always a kind of harmony. Oh, great
dignity. I will say ... It was like an ice palace.

Then suddenly, one day, out of nowhere ... An enormous abyss
opened up beneath our feet. And I was staring into a face I didn't
             Early Attraction Factors

• Proximity (physical distance, repeated exposure)

• Anxiety              Affiliation Link (Dr. Zilstein study)

• General Emotional Arousal             Attraction Link
                             Results of Schachter’s “Dr. Zilstein study”
                       Nonanxious          Anxious subjects   Schachter (1959) manipulated
                       subjects                               the anxiety levels of female
                                                              subjects by having them
                20                    20                      anticipate either painful or
                                                              innocuous shock. The
                18                    18                      dependent variable was
                16                    16                      subjects’ choice to wait with
                                                              others or to wait alone.
# of Subjects

                14                    14
                                                              The results indicated that
                12                    12
                                                              anxious subjects chose to
                10                    10                      wait with others more
                                                              than non-anxious subjects.
                8                     8
                                                          Also, a follow-up study
                6                     6
                                                          found that anxious people
                4                     4                   preferred to wait with
                                                          other anxious people
                2                     2
                                                          rather than those who
                     Choose to wait        Choose to wait were not anxious
                        alone               with others
                                                          Attitude similarity and attraction
Attraction toward other person (range = 2-14)

                                                                                            Byrne and Nelson (1965) asked
                                                                                            to rate how much they liked a
                                                                                            stranger after learning he agreed
                                                12.00                                       with varying proportions of their
                                                                                            attitudes expressed on a
                                                11.00                                       questionnaire. (Higher numbers
                                                                                            indication greater liking.)
                                                                                              As the graph shows, the
                                                                                              greater the proportion of
                                                7.00                                          attitudes subjects shared
                                                6.00                                           with the stranger, the
                                                        .00 .20 .40       .60   .80 1.00       more subjects liked him
                                                        Proportion of similar attitudes held by
                                                                    other person
           Why such a powerful effect of similarity?

A) Cognitive Consistency
   (We like ourselves, therefore we like those who are like us)

B) Social Comparison (validation of one's beliefs)

C) Anticipate/Predict other's behavior (e.G., Likes/dislikes,

D) They will like us also (reciprocal)
                     Application of Similarity Theory
                        Key Dimensions Used by eHarmony

Stated goal: “eHarmony … creates compatible matches based on 29 dimensions
scientifically proven to predict happier, healthier relationships”

Core Traits ---
Social Style (Character, Kindness, Dominance, Sociability, Autonomy, Adaptability):
How do you relate to other people? Do you crave company, or prefer to be alone? Are
you more comfortable leading, or do you prefer to go along with the group?
Cognitive Mode (Intellect, Curiosity, Humor, Artistic Passion)
How do you think about the world around you? Are you motivated by an insatiable
curiosity about the world and events around you? Are you constantly looking for
intellectual challenges? Do you find humor to be your favorite coping strategy when
dealing with the world?
Physicality (Energy – Physical, Passion – Sexual, Vitality & Security, Industry,
Appearance). How do you relate physically with the world? How do you relate
physically with yourself? Are you energetic, athletic and constantly in motion? Or are
you more comfortable and happy walking than running?
               Application of Similarity Theory (cont.)
                              From eHarmony
Relationship Skills (Communication Style, Emotion Management – Anger,
Emotion Management – Mood, Conflict Resolution)
The amount of effort and skill that you devote to making a relationship work are
key elements of who you are, and what type of person you are most likely to
succeed with in a relationship
Values and Beliefs (Spirituality, Family Goals, Traditionalism, Ambition,
Altruism). Values and Beliefs are at the center of most of our life experiences.
How we feel about spirituality, religion, family and even politics for a enormous
part of how we think about the world, and who we are going to be most
comfortable sharing our lives with.
Key Experiences (Family Background, Family Status, Education) All of your life
experiences combine to affect who you are and how you relate to the world.
Although many of the effects of these experiences are represented by the other
Core Traits and Learned Attributes, the following components of the 29
Dimensions are considered separately as part of your Key Experiences in your
compatibility profile
                      Repulsion Hypothesis

  Basic premise: Differences are disliked; perceived as threatening

“Lab” studies                                     Avg. attraction score
• Similar attitudes                              5.5            No
• No information regarding attitudes             5.2        difference

• Dissimilar attitudes                           2.1 (less attraction)

Iowa Caucus Study (Democratic)
Description of person                      No party affiliation
                                           Republican             Disliked
DS    S D D
                                   Reject those who are
DDD S      S D                          dissimilar

                                     S       S       S       S
                                         S       S       S
      End result is that we are
     left with similar people to                     S
            interact with
     The motivational value of dissimilarity is various other
                 theories in social psychology:

•   Balance Theory                Imbalance is motivating

•   Congruity Theory              Incongruity is motivating

•   Dissonance Theory             Dissonance is motivating

•   Equity Theory                  Inequity is motivating

     Naturally discovering similarity/dissimilarity (rather
      than being given other’s attitudes is quite different

                        Active search process
        The “Bridge” Study
Misattribution of Emotional Arousal

 • Tilted, swayed (6 ft.), wobbled
 • Low handrails (3 feet)
 • 230 foot drop to rocks and rapids
Misattribution of Emotional Arousal

        Misattribution of Emotional Arousal (cont.)

Measures: 1) TAT (men wrote stories) scored for sexual content
            2) % of men who called female back

            Higher TAT sexual content scores scores and greater
            percent called back when on the dangerous bridge

Why??? --- Arousal (anxiety) misattributed as partly due to sexual attraction
                   Eating Lightly and Self-Presentation

Basic Premise: People are motivated to behave in ways to enhance their image

• Females have greater number of eating disorders and dieting than males
(emphasis on thin as attractive)


Equal intake of candy by
  males and females


  • Females ate significantly less food when interacting with a
  desirable male
Amount of
conformity         Self-Presentation Through Ingratiation

  4                                   3.7




  0              0
             Undesirable          Desirable man
          Conversation Style and Relationship Type

       Intimate Friend (versus Casual Friend)

Voice Quality                     Trait Ratings
Feminine                           Submissive
Babylike                           Scatterbrained
High pitch                         Approachable
Relaxed                            Sincere

• Much better than chance identification of who was being spoken to, a
casual versus intimate friend.
• No difference in what was said (transcript analysis). Focus on how
things were said, paralinguistic cues.
                   Physical Attractiveness
• Greater overall liking (best predictor of desire to date)
• More desirable character traits (e.g., sensitive, warm, intelligent)
• Higher income
• Higher evaluation of work performance
• More lenient treatment in the legal system              Often different in
• Better mental health                                        physical
• Matching        Length of            Short
                 relationship                                  Couple is
                                       Long                     equal in
Impression                   Romantically linked
  of man




                   6.1                                    5.9



                   Low                             High
                         Female’s attractiveness
                 Attractiveness as a Business

• In 2002, 6.9 million spent on cosmetic surgical and non-surgical procedures in
the U.S. --- a 22% increase from 1997 (American Society for Plastic Surgery, 2003)

• Most common procedure (Botox injections) was performed 1.6 million times
in 2002

• Across the world, the cosmetic industry makes 20 billion/year

• Nearly 1 million adults wear braces (mostly to improves smiles)

• 35 billion is spent on weight loss programs, diet foods, and health club
membership per year in the U.S.
               Misattributions of Friendly Behavior
                                              Viewed female as
                              Male     promiscuous; were attracted to
                                       the female; saw themselves as
                                          flirtatious and seductive
   Observers                           Viewed males as behaving
                             Male         in a sexual manner;
                                        females as promiscuous
  The life cycle                                 Communication/                    Relationship
                                                  consolidation                     continues
      of a
                                    Buildup                         Deterioration
                                                                     and decline

               Attraction                                                           Ending

 Important    Triggering factors:     Social-exchange and equity:        Social-exchange and
  variables       Proximity,             Communication, Self-         equity/inequity: Relative
influencing    Similarity, Erotic       disclosure, Communal               attractiveness of
 attraction       love etc…           concern, External supports       alternatives, Barriers to
                                               Low:                         High: Upset of
                 High: Heady                Relationship                    deterioration and
                   feeling of                in stable                      trauma of
                 romantic love                  state                       disruption
                   Social Equity Theory

• Costs (Inputs)              Loss of freedom, $, time, etc.

• Benefits (Outputs)          Companionship, sexual
                              fulfillment, etc.

 • Comparison Level           Other person in a relationship,
   (e.g., a standard)         yourself in the past, an ideal

• Comparison Level for        Evaluation of the value of
    Alternatives              other partners
         Gender and the Personal Columns

          Males                     Females

 Offer        Seek          Offer                   Seek

Money        Young          Physical               Money
                         attractiveness       Job information
Status      Physically
            attractive                        Personality traits
                                               (e.g., sincerity)
                          Relationship Breakups

               U. S. Divorce Rates per 1,000 population

               1990                     2000                         2004

                4.7                       4.2                          3.7

U.S. totals for the number of divorces is an estimate which includes states not reporting
(California, Colorado, Indiana, and Louisiana).
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2006.

• Who identifies more problems?
• Who initiates most breakups?
• When are the partners most likely to remain friends, when the male of
female initiates the breakup?
 Relationship-Enhancing and Distress-Maintaining Attributions

                   Relationship-Enhancing    Distress-Maintaining
                         Attribution              Attribution
  Positive Event
My partner takes me      My partner is         My partner took
out to an expensive       sweet and           me out to write the
       dinner             thoughtful           cost off on taxes
                        Internal, stable,     External, unstable,
                             global                specific

 Negative Event
                          Something             My partner is
My partner forgot my
     birthday           unexpected must       always uncaring
                         have come up            and selfish
                       External, unstable,     Internal, stable,
                            specific                global
         Liking                                    Love

                  Separate constructs or along a

Liking                                                    Loving
             Sample Liking Scale Items

When I am with _____, we are almost always in the same mood.
I think that _____ is unusually well-adjusted.
I would highly recommend _____ for a responsible job.
In my opinion, _____ is an exceptionally mature person.
I have great confidence in _____’s good judgment.
I think that _____ is someone one of those people who quickly
win your respect.
_____ is one of the most likeable people I know.
_____ is the sort of person whom I myself would like to be.
I would vote for _____ in a class or group election.
               Sample Love Scale Items

I would do anything for _____.
I feel responsible for _____’s well being.
I feel very possessive toward _____.
If I could never be with _____, I would feel miserable.
If I were lonely, my first thought would be to seek _____ out.
I would forgive _____ for practically anything.
In would greatly enjoy being confided in by _____.
When I am with _____, I spend a good deal of my time just
looking at him/her.
I would be hard for me to get along without _____.
  Liking & Loving for Dating Partners and Same-Sex Friends

Index                Women             Men

Love for Partner      89.5             89.3

Liking for Partner    88.7             84.6

Love for Friend       65.3             55.1

Liking for Friend     80.5             79.1
         Interpersonal Relationship --- Newer

                • Individual subjective reactions to cues in
                               an interaction

Relationships   • Active search/detection process for cues

                • Timing and sequencing of cues (e.g.,
                       baking a cake example)
          Interpersonal Relationship --- Newer
                   Approaches (cont.)

                                                    • Future
Thoughts about              Evaluation of
 interpersonal           interaction as good,
  interactions              average, poor           • Strategies

                     • Who is told? When they are told?
Narratives/stories     What is said? Why they are told?
  relationships      • Difference in perceptions; memory for facts


                                4.5              4.4


              2 men          2 women        Man & woman   Man & woman
           (best friends)   best friends)    (platonic)    (romantic)
            Marriage, Health and Longevity
Health &
            Happily married
  High      Unhappily married


             Men                  Women
                         Playing Hard To Get
Liking for

      9.5                9.4


      8.5                              8.4          8.6

      8.0     7.9


             No one    Only the      Any (all)     Control
                      participant   the eligible
                      Woman’s Interest
  Gender Differences in Mate Preferences
% Monet                                    % Monet                           Women
 spent                                      spent

    40                                         40
             High Budget                                  Low Budget

    30                                         30

    20                                         20

    10                                         10

     0                                          0
             Physical      Social status                Physical      Social status
          attractiveness                             attractiveness
% “yes”    Gender Differences in
             Sexual Behavior
   100                                        Males
   0                                   0

          Go on a date     Go to       Sexual
                         apartment   invitation
“No man or woman really knows what love is until they have been
married a quarter of a century.” --- Mark Twain

                                                                          Love marriages
                                                                          Arranged marriages






                  0-1            1-2           2-5                5-10   10+

                                              Years of marriage
Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love

Romantic                     Companionate
(Intimacy &                     (Intimacy &
  Passion)                     Commitment)

Passion         Fatuous
Infatuate       (Passion &
               Commitment)          Empty
Sample Question Based on Sternberg’s Triangular
                 Love Theory
˜ Intimacy Component ˜
I am actively supportive of _____'s wellbeing.____
I have a warm relationship with _____.
I am able to count on _____ in times of need.
˜ Passion Component ˜
Just seeing ________ excites me.
I find myself thinking about _____ frequently during the day.____
My relationship with ___________ is very romantic.
˜ Commitment Component ˜
I know that I care about _____.
I am committed to maintaining my relationship with _____.
Because of my commitment to ________, I would not let other people
come between us.
          Sternberg’s 8 Components of Love

               Intimacy   Passion   Commitment
Non-Love          x         x           x
Liking                     x           x
Infatuated        x                    x
Empty             x         x           
Romantic                              x
Companionate               x           
Fatuous           x                    
Consummate                            
                Sternberg’s Love Story Approach*
                 [Based on past experience and personality]

• Business Story --- 2 partners in a business endeavor, power issues

• Collector Story --- Impossible for any one individual to fill all
  one’s love needs; find combination of other people to meet all

• Fairytale Story --- Idealized story, unrealistic (e.g., prince and

• War Story --- Love as war, combatants, winner and loser

* Approximately 24 different love stories are included in the model
           Sample Items --- Adult Attachment Scale*

• I find it difficult to allow myself to depend on others [Trust]

• I often wonder that my partner does not really love me [Anxiety]

• I am nervous when anyone gets too close [Closeness]

• I know that others will be there when I need them [Trust]

• I find that others are reluctant to get as close as I would like [Anxiety]

• I am comfortable having others depend on me [Closeness]

* Source: Collins & Reid (1990)
             Relationship Conflict --- Some Issues

• Jealousy ---
Men              Sexual infidelity (60%)
Women            Emotional infidelity (83%)

• Communication ---
         Demand-withdraw interaction pattern (Females wish to
discuss problems, men avoid/withdraw from such discussions)

• Sex
• Children
• Money
• Different expectations
                      Relationship Closeness

                                             Self      Other

       Self   Other        Self   Other

Self          Other                             Self     Other
                          Self       Other

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