Lesson 7 - Interpersonal Attraction and Relationships

Lesson 7
Interpersonal Attraction
and Relationships
Lesson Outline
Who Is Available?
Who Is Desirable?
The Determinants of Liking
The Growth of Relationships
Love and Loving
Breaking Up
Interpersonal Attraction & Developing
Interpersonal Attraction is a positive
attitude held by one person toward another
Relationships develop in stages.
Stages of Development and
Outcome of Relationships
Who is available - What determines with whom we
come into contact?
Who is desirable?
What are the determinants of attraction or liking?
How do friendship and love develop between two
What is love?
What determines whether love thrives or dies?
Who Is Available?
Available means people with whom we come
into contact, no matter how fleeting.
Potential friends and lovers come from the field of
Two basic influences determine who is available.
1. Institutional structures – influence our personal
2. Individuals’ personal characteristics –influence
their choice of activities.
Factors That Influence our Choices
Three factors influence whom we select:
1. Our daily routines make some more accessible.
2. Proximity makes it more rewarding to interact with
some people rather than others.
3. Familiarity produces a positive attitude toward
those with whom we repeatedly come into contact.
• Mere exposure effect = repeated exposure to
the same novel stimulus is sufficient to
produce a positive attitude toward it .
Contact and Relationships
Contact by itself does not ensure the
development of a relationship.
Whether a relationship between two people
develops depends on whether each is
attracted to the other.
Who Is Desirable?
We choose among available candidates, based on
several criteria.
– Social norms tell us what kinds of people are
appropriate as friends, lovers, and mentors.
– We prefer a more physically attractive person,
for esthetic reasons and because we expect
rewards from associating with that person.
– We choose based on our expectations about
the rewards and costs of potential relationships.
Norm of Homogamy
Norm of Homogamy is a norm that tell us
which persons are appropriate as friends,
lovers, and mentors.
– In U.S. society this norms requires that
friends, lovers, and spouses be similar in
age, race, religion, and socioeconomic
 Research shows that homogamy is
characteristic of all types of social relationships
from acquaintance to intimate.
Matching Hypothesis
According to this hypothesis, people seek
partners whose level of social desirability is
about equal to their own.
 Contrary to this hypothesis, research has
shown that students preferred a more attractive
date, regardless of their own attractiveness.
– Cultural standards influence our esthetic judgments.
– One anticipates more reward when he/she
associates with attractive persons.
Attractiveness Stereotype
The belief that “what is beautiful is good”.
Research finds that we believe physically attractive
people have more favorable personality traits and are
more likely to be successful.
– More than 70 studies found that attractiveness has
a moderate influence on how sensitive, kind, and
interesting a person is.
– It has less influence on judgments of intelligence,
and no influence on judgments of integrity.
Evolutionary Perspective
on Attractiveness
According to the evolutionary perspective,
men and women have an evolved disposition
to mate with healthy individuals, so that they
will produce healthy offspring, who will in turn
mate and pass on their genetic code.
 Thus, we prefer young, attractive partners
because they have high reproductive
Choosing Friends: The Exchange
According to the exchange theory, people
evaluate interactions and relationships in terms of
the rewards and costs that each is likely to entail.
– They calculate likely outcomes by subtracting
anticipated costs from anticipated rewards.
– If the expected outcome is positive, people are
inclined to initiate or maintain the relationship.
– If the expected outcome is negative, they are unlikely
to initiate a new relationship or to stay in an ongoing
Communicating Interest
Once in proximity, a stranger attracted to
another person wants to communicate
interest without making a commitment to
 Women will try to control the interaction; to do
so, they will initially use nonverbal cues that
men may not consciously perceive.
– Short glances, coy smiles, primping
The development of relationships is influenced
by an event schema or script.
 A script specifies:
– the definition of the situation (a date, job
interview, or sexual encounter)
– the identities of the social actors involved
– the range and sequence of permissible
The Marriage Script
The United States is one of a small number of
societies in which love is widely included in
the script for getting married.
 In many other societies, marriages reflect
political and economic influences, not
The Determinants of Liking
How much we like someone is determined by three
1. The greater the proportion of similar attitudes,
the more they like each other.
2. Shared activities become an important influence
on our liking for another person as we spend
time with them.
3. Reciprocal liking (we like those who like us) As
we experience positive feedback from another
person, it increases our liking for them.
Online Relationships
Potential partners only have access to messages
crafted by the person.
– If there is the potential to meet each other, those
interacting must craft an accurate self-image.
– In a study of an online Canadian dating site, 25%
misrepresented themselves.
A survey of Match.com found that:
• 56% were female
• 93% percent were White
• many were in their forties
The Growth of Relationships
As relationships grow, they change on three
1. There may be a gradual increase in the
disclosure of intimate information (self
2. Trust in the other person increases as
relationships develop.
3. Interdependence for various gratifications also
increases, often accompanied by a decline in
reliance on relationships with others.
Dyadic Withdrawal
Increasing reliance on one person for gratifications and
decreasing reliance on others.
– One study of 750 men and women illustrates the
extent to which such withdrawal occurs.
– The more intimate his or her current heterosexual
relationship, the smaller the number of friends listed
by the respondent.
– As the degree of involvement increased, the
proportion of mutual friends of the couple also
Love and Loving
Liking is a positive attitude toward an object.
 Love is an attachment to and caring for
another person.
– Love also may involve passion.
• Passion is a state of intense
physiological arousal and intense
absorption in the other.
Occurrence Of Romantic Love Ideal
In American Magazines, 1741–1865
A team of researchers
selected some of the
best-selling magazines
from 4 historical periods
and counted the
number of times each of
the 5 romantic ideals
was mentioned.
The findings suggest
that American
acceptance of the
romantic love ideal
occurred gradually from
1741 to 1865.
The romantic love ideal
first really came into its
own about the time of
the Civil War.
Romantic Love Ideal: 5 Beliefs
True love can strike without prior interaction
(“love at first sight”).
For each of us, there is only one other
person who will inspire true love.
True love can overcome any obstacle.
Our beloved is (nearly) perfect.
We should follow our feelings; we should
base our choice of partners on love rather
than on other, more rational considerations.
Breaking Up
There are three major influences on whether
a relationship dissolves:
– Breaking up may result if one person feels
that outcomes (rewards minus costs) are
– The degree of commitment: Someone who
feels a low level of emotional attachment to
and concern for his or her partner is more
likely to break up.
– Responses to dissatisfaction with a
relationship include exit, voice, loyalty, or
Equity Theory
Equity theory postulates that each of us compares
the rewards we receive from a relationship to our
costs or contributions.
In general, we expect to get more out of the
relationship if we put more into it.
Thus, we compare our outcomes (rewards minus
costs) to the outcomes our partner is receiving.
The theory predicts that equitable relationships—in
which the outcomes are equivalent—will be stable,
whereas inequitable ones will be unstable.
Differential Commitment
and Dissolution
The dissolution of a relationship is often
painful, but breaking up is not necessarily
– Breaking up is a filtering process; people
who are not suited to each other terminate
their relationships.
– A breakup may lead to personal growth
and more successful relationships in the
Three Factors in Assessing a Relationship
The costs of leaving a relationship include:
– Material - financial
– Symbolic - reactions of others
– Affectual - changes in relationships with
Three Factors in Assessing a
Availability of alternatives.
The absence of an attractive alternative may
lead the individual to maintain an unrewarding
The appearance of an attractive alternative
may trigger the dissatisfied person to dissolve
the relationship
The level of rewards experienced before the
relationship became dissatisfying.
If the relationship was particularly rewarding in
the past, the individual is less likely to decide to
terminate it.
Reactions to the Costs to
Breaking Up
A longitudinal study of dating couples found
that lower levels of support by friends for the
relationship were associated with later
termination of the relationship.
 A study of married couples listed the following
barriers to terminating their marriage
– Children - 31%
– Religion - 13%
– Financial need – 6%