Chapter 8 Interpersonal Attraction Social Needs Around the world and across agegroups, most people spend about 3/4s of their time with other people. People want not merely the presence of others but close ties to people who care about them. Infant Attachment Attachment means that an infant responds positively to specific others, feels better when they are close, and seeks them out when frightened. Infant Attachment Attachment provides a sense of security Attachment provides information about the environment via social referencing Infant Attachment Mary Ainsworth (1978) identified three major attachment styles Secure Avoidant Anxious/ambivalent Infant Attachment Attachment is adaptive Attachment suggests that the tendency to form relationships is at least partly biologically based. Benefits of Social Relations Attachment (comfort & security) Social integration (shared interests & attitudes) Reassurance of Worth Sense of Reliable Alliance (help in times of need) Guidance Opportunity for Nurturance Weiss (1974) Benefits of Social Relations No single relationship can fulfill all our social needs Loneliness The subjective discomfort we feel when our social relations lack some important feature Loneliness Different from aloneness, or the objective state of being apart from others People are somewhat more likely to feel lonely when they are alone Especially if social norms dictate that one “should” be with others (e.g., Saturday night) Loneliness About 1 in 4 Americans reports feeling very lonely in the past 2 weeks Situational loneliness occurs due to life changes Chronic loneliness occurs for about 10% of Americans regardless of the situation Possible biological basis Associated with depression, substance abuse, and illness Loneliness No segment of society is immune Children of divorced parents, shy people, people with lower self-esteem, poor people, and single people are more at risk Loneliness Contrary to stereotype, teenagers and young adults are more at risk than the elderly Not clear if this is a “generation gap” in willingness to report feelings, a function of greater life transitions among the young, or greater social skills and more realistic expectations among the elderly Basic Principles of Attraction Basic principles In general… We like people who like us. We like people who satisfy our needs. We like people when the rewards they provide outweigh the costs (social exchange theory) Basic principles Specific Determinants of Liking… Proximity Familiarity Similarity Personal Qualities of the Other Proximity The best single predictor of whether two people will be friends is how far apart they live Proximity Festinger, Schachter, & Back’s (1950) Westgate West study Residents were randomly assigned to apartments within the building. The closer people lived, the more friendly they became with each other. Proximity Why does proximity have an effect? Ease of availability Lower cost in terms of time, money, forethought Cognitive dissonance pressures to like those with whom we must associate The mere anticipation of interaction increases liking Familiarity The mere exposure effect : simply being exposed to a person (or other stimulus) tends to increase liking for it Familiarity 4 Liking 3.5 3 2.5 2 Participants were shown photos of different faces. The number of times each face was seen was varied. The more people saw a face, the more they liked it 5 10 25 (Zajonc, 1968). 0 1 2 Frequency Familiarity Why does familiarity promote liking? Evolutionarily adaptive Improved recognition is a 1st step to liking Familiar is more predictable Familiar is assumed to be similar to self Familiarity Limits to Mere Exposure Most effective if stimulus is initially viewed as positive or neutral Pre-existing conflicts between people will get intensified, not decrease, with exposure There is an optimal level of exposure: too much can lead to boredom and satiation Similarity We like others who are similar to us in attitudes, interests, values, background & personality Similarity Newcomb (1961) assigned roommates to be either very similar or very dissimilar and measured liking at the end of the semester. Those who were similar liked each other while those who were dissimilar disliked each other Similarity Much research on similarity uses the phantom-other technique, where the so-called other person is really a carefully scripted set of answers to a questionnaire. Many studies using this technique show the high relationship between similarity & liking Similarity In romantic relationships, the tendency to choose similar others is called the matching principle. People tend to match their partners on a wide variety of attributes age, intelligence, education, religion, attractiveness, height But friendship and love can transcend differences in background Similarity Why do people prefer similar others? Similar others are more rewarding. Interacting with similar others minimizes the possibility of cognitive dissonance We expect to be more successful with similar others. Similarity What mechanisms foster similarity in close relationships? Selective attraction Social influence Shared environmental factors As people interact with similar others, they tend to become even more similar Similarity Limits to Similarity Differences can be rewarding Differences allow people to pool-shared knowledge and skills to mutual benefit Similarity can be threatening when someone similar to us experiences an unfortunate fate Desirable Personal Attributes There are large individual and crosscultural differences in the characteristics that are preferred. Within the U.S., the most-liked characteristics are those related to trustworthiness. Two other much-liked attributes are personal warmth and competence. Desirable Personal Attributes Warmth People appear warm when they have a positive attitude and express liking, praise, and approval Nonverbal behaviors such as smiling, attentiveness, and expressing emotions also contribute to perceptions of warmth Desirable Personal Attributes Competence We like people who are socially skilled, intelligent, and competent. The type of competence that matters most depends on the nature of the relationship. E.g., social skills for friends, knowledge for profs However, being “too perfect” can be offputting Desirable Personal Attributes The personal qualities that initially attract us to someone can sometimes turn out to be fatal flaws to a relationship E.g., the “fun-loving” boyfriend who is later dismissed as “immature” About 30% of breakups fit this description. Physical Attractiveness Other things being equal, we tend to like attractive people more. Physical Attractiveness One reason we like more attractive people is that they are believed to possess other good qualities. In fact, more attractive people may be more socially skilled. They are also believed to be more intelligent, dominant, & mentally healthy. Physical Attractiveness In a classic study on the importance of physical attractiveness, college students were randomly assigned to each other as dates for an evening. People who were more attractive were better liked by their date (Walster et al., 1966). Physical Attractiveness Other Effects of Attractiveness Physically attractive people are more likely to receive help, job recommendations, and more lenient punishments People who are disabled are stereotyped as unattractive. Physical Attractiveness People who are obese are stigmatized and face discrimination in the workplace. The negative view occurs because people are seen as responsible for their weight. Anti-fat prejudice is strongest in individualistic cultures (Crandall et al., 2001). Physical Attractiveness Who is Attractive? Culture plays a large role in standards of attractiveness. However, people do tend to agree on some features that are seen as more attractive: Statistically “average” faces Symmetrical or balanced faces Physical Attractiveness Why does attractiveness matter? People believe attractiveness is correlated with other positive characteristics Being associated with an attractive other leads a person to be seen as more attractive him or herself According to evolutionary theory, attractiveness may provide a clue to health and reproductive fitness Sex Differences in Mate Selection For both sexes, characteristics such as dependability, maturity, and pleasantness are most important. Men rank physical attractiveness higher. Women rank financial resources higher. Men prefer younger partners, while women prefer older partners. Love Most people in the United States today believe that love is essential for a successful marriage. In the U.S., love is seen as more important today than it was in the 1960s. Romantic love is seen as more important in individualistic cultures than it is in collectivist cultures. Love The experience of romantic love differs from person to person, culture to culture, and over historical time. Most of the studies have been done on young white middle-class adults in the U.S., so we need to be cautious about generalizing. Love: Feelings Strong feeling of well-being Difficulty concentrating “Floating on a cloud” “Wanted to run, jump, & scream” “Nervous before dates” “Giddy & carefree” Strong physical sensations (e.g., butterflies in the stomach) Insomnia % reporting 79 37 29 22 22 20 20 12 Love: Thoughts Three basic themes: Attachment Caring Trust & Self-Disclosure Rubin (1970, 1973) Love: Behaviors Verbal expressions, e.g., “I love you.” Physical expression, e.g., hug & kiss Verbal self-disclosure Nonverbal display of happiness near other Material signs, e.g., presents, helping Nonmaterial signs, e.g., encouragement, interest, respect Making sacrifices to maintain the relationship Love Passionate Love Wildly emotional Uncontrollable Physiological arousal Preoccupation with other Idealization of other Strikes suddenly, fades quickly Companionate Love Affection we feel for those w/whom our lives are intertwined Trust Caring Tolerance Develops slowly, basis for enduring relationship Love Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love INTIMACY Romantic Love Infatuation PASSION Liking Companionate Love Consummate Love Fatuous Love Empty Love COMMITMENT Jealousy a reaction to perceived threat to the continuity or quality of a relationship More likely to be jealous are people who are Highly dependent Have few alternative relationships More insecure Jealousy Sex Differences Men get more jealous of sexual infidelity Women get more jealous of emotional infidelity “paternity certainty” threatened Fear of loss of resource support for rearing offspring Much but not all work supports an evolutionary interpretation Adult Romantic Attraction Secure, Avoidant, Anxious/Ambivalent The proportion of adults classified these ways is similar to the proportion of infants However, unlike with children, adult attachments are reciprocal, between peers, and sexual. Adult Romantic Attraction Many theorists believe that infant attachment to caregivers provides a “working model” for adult relationships. There is some evidence for continuity. However, attachment style may change if a person has a significant attachment-related event (e.g., divorce, abuse, etc.) Adult Romantic Attraction In general, people with a secure attachment style have more satisfying, committed, close, and well-adjusted relationships than avoidant people. Secure people are more responsive to their partner’s needs than avoidant or anxious people.