Lecture 2: Attraction & Getting to Know Others Flashcards Preview

PSY424H1S: Social Psychology of Relationships with C. Midgley > Lecture 2: Attraction & Getting to Know Others > Flashcards

Flashcards in Lecture 2: Attraction & Getting to Know Others Deck (63)
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Why are we attracted to others?

  • We are generally attracted to people who bring us rewards
  • instrumentality: the extent to which someone is able to help us achieve our present goals
  • direct rewards: the evident pleasures people provide us; e.g. showing us interest or approval, being witty or beautiful, giving us money or advice
  • indirect rewards: ones we’re not always aware of and are merely associated with someone else; e.g. being friends with someone whose name starts with the same letter as yours


What are the three factors attraction can be attributed to?

  1. Target factors (what makes someone “objectively” attractive)
  2. Perceiver factors (what about “me” determines who I’m attracted to)
  3. Situational & contextual factors (promote attraction generally)


What are the three main target factors that make people attractive?

  1. Faces
  2. Bodies
  3. Personality


What makes an attractive face?

  • Symmetry and averageness (i.e. nothing distracting/odd)
    • No perfectly symmetrical faces, but more symmetrical & average = more attractive
  • This preference is universal (i.e. innate)
    • Shows cross-cultural consistency and infants show this preference about 14 hrs after birth


Why do we like symmetrical and average faces?

  1. Signs of developmental stability
    • Signals healthier genes and safe living environment (without disease, etc.)
  2. Familiarity breeds liking
    • Most likely due to ease of processing (familiar = easier to process)


Explain the Moreland & Beach (1992) study on the effects of the mere exposure effect on perceptions of attractiveness.

  • mere exposure effect: repeated contact with someone usually increases liking for this person
  • Female confederates attended a college lecture 0, 5, 10, or 15 times; result was that students rated the 15-time confederate as more attractive the others despite not having interacted with any of them


Does more familiarity always lead to more liking?

  • As we find more information about others, we may find that they’re actually obnoxious, disagreeable, or inept to some degrees
  • Interestingly, people’s worst enemies are more likely to live near them (e.g. in the same condo) than far away
    • It’s rare to dislike someone too far away to annoy you


What is most important for a woman’s physical attractiveness?

  • A waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) of 0.7 for women is universally attractive
    • Even men who are born blind shown this preference
    • A waist-to-bust ratio of 0.75 is ideal, but WHR has more influence on men’s ratings of women’s attractiveness than bust size
  • Men are more interested in women who have long hair, and judge such women as less likely to be engaged and more willing to have sex on a first date


What male physical features do women find important?

  • Women seem to prefer a WHR of 0.9 and shoulder-to-hip ratio of 1.2
    • However, a man’s WHR affects women’s evaluations of him only when he earns a healthy salary
  • Prefer men who are taller than they are and find height differences to be more important than men do


What personalities are attractive?

  • Overall, people who are agreeable and conscientious (Big 5)
    • e.g. Warm, dependable, emotionally stable (not neurotic), mature, etc.
  • These personality traits are very general, not specific (e.g. someone who lives cats vs. dogs)


Explain the Lewandowski et al. (2007) experiment on the effects of personality on attractiveness.

  • Question: Do the effects of attractiveness and personality interact with each other?
  • Procedure: Ps presented with a series of photos which they rated for attractiveness
    • Then saw each photo again, paired with either a desirable or undesirable personality trait
    • DVs: How much would you like this person as a friend/a romantic partner? How physically attractive is this person?
  • Results: Photos paired with desirable traits were rated as more attractive than the first time & photos paired with undesirable traits were seen as even less attractive, regardless of initial attractiveness rating and for both men and women
  • Conclusion: A good personality can make someone appear more physically attractive and vice versa (being more attractive can make your personality appear better)
    • However, sometimes this effect isn’t seen; e.g. if someone’s physical appearance is so off-putting that your initial evaluation might lead you to not process their personality at all
    • Effect unambiguously seen because Ps were told to pay attention to personality specifically


What’s most important: faces or personality?

  • Generally, people rank: (1) warmth, loyalty; (2) attractiveness, vitality; (3) status, resources
    • Ideally, we’d like to have all three, but warmth and loyalty are the #1 priority
  • What comes next depends somewhat on perceiver & situational factors
    • e.g. For short-term flings, women tend to have lower standards for personality/assets and look for guys who are hot


What are the main perceiver factors in attraction?

  1. Gender
  2. Similarity/assortative mating
  3. Goal pursuit orientation


What are the main gender differences in preference for attractiveness?

  • Men typically show preference for:
    • More feminine facial features
    • Younger faces (younger than them, but younger in general)
    • Choose physical attractiveness over signs of status, wealth (after warmth and loyalty)
  • Women typically show preference for:
    • More masculine/dominant faces
    • Older faces
    • BUT look for signs of wealth/status over looks


Are deal breakers universal?

  • There does seem to be some universality in deal breakers
    • Such as women generally being cautious and choosy, and having more deal breakers than men
  • People with a higher mate value have more deal breakers
  • But generally, women value loyalty and warmth more than men
    • In the long-term, they’ll prefer men who are kind, understanding, and financially well-off to hot-but-poor or rich-but-cold guys


What are some evolutionary perspectives that explain gender differences in preference for attractiveness?

  • Men and women faced different adaptive problems
    • parental investment theory: the sex that invests more in offspring will be choosier
      • Male seahorses carry the babies and thus are more selective of who they mate with
  • Men need only to find a fertile mate, whereas women need a partner who will invest resources in offspring
    • Women carry the babies to term, breastfeed, etc.
  • Evolutionarily, then, women want to choose a mate to provide resources who will help during this process


What are the 4 main pieces of evidence supporting the evolutionary perspective?

  1. What men and women are sensitive to
    • Men are most sensitive to fertility cues: e.g. feminine features, youthful faces, long hair, waist-to-hip ratio of 0.7
    • Women are most sensitive to social status cues: e.g. dominant/masculine features, older faces, broad shoulders, height, signs of wealth
  2. Influence of female ovulation/hormones on attractiveness
  3. Babies are born with the same preferences for attractive faces that adults have
  4. Physical attractiveness matters most to people who live in equatorial regions of the world where there are many pathogens that can endanger good health


How does ovulation influence attractiveness?

Evolutionarily, women should want to mate with people during their time of ovulation (when they’re fertile) and look for a mate who will provide them the best genetic material

  1. Women themselves feel more attractive & desirable nearing ovulation
    • Women tend to dress nicer/put more effort into their presentation
    • In one experiment, Ps were 50% more likely to rate photos of women which were taken at/near ovulation as more attractive (vs. non-fertile days)
  2. Ovulation may be a target factor; i.e. women don’t change their behavior towards men while ovulating, but men tend to find women more attractive at this time
    • In one study of female lap-dancers, researchers found that women who weren’t using oral contraceptives gained twice as many tips while they were ovulating
    • Other women who were using oral contraceptives didn’t see this boost
  3. When ovulating, women show different preferences in men
    • Have greater preference for masculine body shapes, facial features, deep voices; and confrontational, arrogant, and socially respected men
  4. Women on hormonal contraceptives (HCs) show less overall preference for cues of genetic fitness (e.g. masculine features such as broad shoulders)
    • Discontinuing HCs is associated with greater marital satisfaction in wives with relatively attractive husbands, but lower satisfaction in wives with relatively less attractive husbands


What are some problems with the evolutionary perspective?

  • Some aspects of attractiveness seem to be culturally determined
  • Variation in ideal weight – both across cultures and time
    • e.g. Slender women are only considered attractive during times of plenty
    • e.g. Black and Latina women in the US are more accepting of extra weight than white women are
  • It’s based on assumption that women relied on men for resources


What is Eagly & Wood’s (1999) social role theory?

  • Challenges but does not discount the role of biology in attractiveness
  • Historically, different biology leads to different role adoption → socialization to encourage role-consistent traits
    • Male role often associated with status and power (traditionally, at least)
    • Women’s most direct route to access to high status resources was through male mates
  • Women aren’t naturally unable to provide for themselves and their offspring, but as a society we decided that it’s more acceptable for men to be providers


What is the evidence for social role theory?

  • Sex differences in preference for status is reduced in more female empowered cultures (e.g. Scandinavian countries)
    • However, sex differences for attractiveness is not affected
    • Women’s preference for good providers has overall decreased from 1939-1996 in US
      • Coincides with when women entered into the workforce in large numbers
  • The more intelligent/successful women are, the less importance they place on status/wealth in men


Explain Eagly et al.’s (2009) experiment providing evidence for social role theory.

  • Procedure: Female and male participants (non-married, undergrad students) envisioned themselves as a married person with children
    • IVs: (1) gender, (2) role
      • Half of Ps imagined they were the homemaker
      • Half of Ps imagined they were the provider
    • Ps asked how important homemaker vs. provider traits were in a partner
  • Results: When men and women imagined they were the provider, they placed more importance on homemaker traits
    • Women were overall more likely to place emphasis on provider traits, due to evolutionary and socialization factors
    • When men and women imagined they were the homemaker, they placed more importance on provider traits
  • Conclusion: People want a partner who fulfills the opposite role to them, regardless of gender


What are the costs of (not) being attractive?

  • Actually no correlation overall between a woman’s beauty and the amount of time she spends interacting with men
    • Whereas unattractive men have fewer interactions with women than any sort — physical attractiveness has a bigger effect on the social lives of men than it does on women
  • Physical attractiveness may even account for as much as 10 percent of the variability in people’s adjustment and well-being over their lifetimes
  • People are more willing to misrepresent their interests, personalities, and incomes to get close to an attractive person than they are to fabricate an image for a plain partner
    • Attractive men and women are more dubious of the praise they receive when the complimenter is aware of their attractiveness
    • Whereas unattractive people find praise more compelling when the complimenter did know they were plain


How do similarity and assortative mating influence attraction?

  • We like people who are like us (“birds of a feather flock together”)
  • assortative mating: People tend to pair up with others who (1) are demographically similar; (2) are equally physically attractive; (3) have similar personalities; (4) have similar attitudes, values
    • True for both romantic partners & friends
  • Even disproportionately likely to marry someone with a similar name
  • Perceived similarity more important than actual similarity for long-term relationships
  • People who date people from other cultural groups?
    • Still similar in age, education, attractiveness, interests
    • Tend to have had closer contact with other ethnicities throughout their life, which enables them to more easily see similarities between themselves and someone from another cultural group


Is there any truth to the saying “opposites attract”?

  • This saying is less supported by research
  • However, there are some domains in which dissimilarity is beneficial
    • Extraversion in the workplace
      • Might be better with some introverts in the group so that there isn’t always a clash of personalities going on
    • Regulatory focus in couples
    • Differences in instrumentality (they help us reach our goals) or complementarity (when people display skills we don’t have/they’re better at than us) can also fit well together


What are the 7 reasons people might think that they’re in an “opposites attract” relationship?

  1. Perceived similarities
  2. Discovering similarities can take time
  3. We’re attracted to people who are similar to our ideal selves (i.e. have traits we’d like to but don’t yet have)
  4. Dissimilarity may decrease over time
  5. Some types of similarity are more important than others
  6. Matching is a broad process
  7. Different types of behavior can fit well together sometimes


How does perceived similarity influence relationships?

  • Our perceptions of how much we have in common affect our attraction to each more than our actual similarity does
  • People in long-term relationships tend to overestimate the similarities they share—and discovering how wrong they are (if they ever do) can take some time
  • Others—friends, family, co-workers—may correctly observe that the partners are two very different people and infer, therefore, that opposites must attract
  • Note: the partners aren’t together because their differences are desirable, they’re together because they think they’re not very different, and they’re wrong


What is Murstein’s (1987) stimulus-value-role theory on why it takes time to discover similarities/differences?

  • stimulus-value-role theory: we gain three different broad types of information about our partners as a new relationship develops
  • Stimulus stage: attraction is based on information involving obvious attributes (age, sex, attractiveness)
  • Value stage: attraction depends on similarity in attitudes and beliefs (e.g. taste in food)
  • Role stage: when we finally find out if we agree on the basics of parenting, careers, and house cleaning, among other life tasks


What are fatal attractions?

  • fatal attractions: occur when a quality that initially attracts one person to another gradually becomes one of the most obnoxious, irritating things about that partner


How do different types of similarity influence matching?

  • Not all similarities are important, and housework and gender roles seem to be the two types of similarity which routinely matter
  • Cohabiting couples who disagree with each other about the division of household labor are more likely to break up than are those who share similar views
  • Spouses who share such work are more satisfied than those who divide it unequally