Social Psychology


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Who Likes Whom?

        •  Reward Theory of Attraction: Attraction toward others is a function of the reinforcements we experience when we are with the person.

Ψ  Four Main Areas of Attraction:

        •  Proximity
         •  Physical attractiveness
          •  Similarity versus Complementarity
           •  Liking Those Who Like Us

Ψ  Proximity

        •  Proximity is better thought of as functional distance (how often people's paths cross). Functional distance strongly predicts liking.

        •  Anticipation of interaction: Just expecting to interact with someone leads us to like them more. In essence, we are setting the environment for behavioral confirmation. If we expect to like someone, the interaction should go more smoothly.

        •  Mere Exposure: The more we see something the more we like it (as long as exposure isn’t incessant). The mere-exposure effect is adaptive, a "hardwired" phenomenon that predisposes our attractions & attachments & helps us keep away from danger. Downside: wariness of the unfamiliar.

Ψ  Physical attractiveness

        •  Appearance does matter! The consistency & pervasiveness of "good looks" is disconcerting.

        •  Research indicates that the more attractive a female is, the more likely she is to date. The effect is slightly less strong for males.

        •  The Matching Phenomenon: Couples (even friends) tend to be relatively equal in attractiveness. When the partners are not relatively equal in attractiveness, the less attractive partner usually compensates on some other factor (e.g., very wealthy older men marrying beautiful young women).

        •  The Physical Attractiveness Stereotype: “That which is beautiful, is good.” People within a culture, assume that attractive people have the traits that are valued by that culture. Adults & children are biased toward attractive people.

        •  Who is attractive? To be really attractive is to be perfectly average. Symmetrical & “average” faces are seen as most attractive. To become more attractive average features are exaggerated (e.g., fuller lips and larger eyes in a women).

        •  Evolution and Attraction: What is beautiful in women generally indicates fertility. In men, attractive traits tend to indicate the ability to provide & protect.

        •  The contrast effect: What's attractive to you depends on your comparison standards. Men find most women to be less attractive after watching really attractive women on TV. Men find their spouses less attractive after viewing centerfolds or pornographic films. This is true for your self-perceptions also, people find themselves less attractive after viewing other “more attractive” people.

        •  The Attractiveness of Those We Love: Although we like attractive people more, we also tend to find people we like to be attractive! The more in love we are with someone, the more attractive we view them, & the less attractive we view others of opposite sex.

Ψ  Similarity versus Complementarity

        •  Birds of a feather do flock together. Likeness begets liking. The greater number of shared attitudes, the more likable you find the person, particularly if you like yourself! Of course, the opposite is also true, we tend to dislike those who hold different opinions than us.

It's a Mickey Mouse World , isn't it?

        •  Complementarity: The popularly supposed  tendency, in a relationship between two people, for each to complete what is missing in the other.

Ψ  Liking Those Who Like Us

        •  Does liking a person cause that person to like us? Yes.

        •  Rebound Effect: Attacks on a person’s self-esteem (from someone else) can lead them to like a person more as a result. Women who received critical personality assessments rated an attractive male confederate as being more likeable than those who received a positive evaluation.

Ψ  Our Need To Belong

        •  Our need to belong is illustrated by the effects of ostracism. Ostracism generally refers to informal modes of exclusion from a group through shunning. Shunning is the act of deliberately avoiding association with, & habitually keeping away from an individual. To thwart our need to belong is to unsettle our life.

Social Psychology
  Robert C. Gates