Chapter Relationships and Attraction | Social Psychology, 3e: W. W. Norton StudySpace
Physical Attractiveness is More Important Than We Think were taken from The Social Psychology of Attraction and Romantic Relationships. Interpersonal attraction is traditionally defined in social psychology as a positive treats attraction as the desire to form a friendly or romantic relationship with a. Self-disclosure in the context of a relationship refers to how much information.
An important aspect of this is the reciprocity of the process, if one person shares more than the other is willing to, there may be a breakdown of trust as one person establishes themselves as more invested than the other.
AO3 Aron et al. Sprecher and Hendrick observed couples on dates and found a close correlation between the amount of satisfaction each person felt and the overall self-disclosure that occurred between the partners. However, much of the research into self-disclosure is correlational which means that a causal relationship cannot be easily determined; in short it may be that it is the attraction between partners which leads to greater self-disclosure, rather than the sharing of information which leads to greater intimacy.
Physical appearance can be seen as a range of indicators of underlying characteristics. Women with a favourable waist to hip ratio are seen as attractive because they are perceived to be more fertile Singh,people with more symmetrical features are seen to be more genetically fit. This is because our genes are designed to make us develop symmetrically, but diseases and infections during physical development can cause these small imperfections and asymmetries Little and Jones, The halo effect is a cognitive bias mental shortcut which occurs when a person assumes that a person has positive traits in terms of personality and other features because they have a pleasing appearance.
Dion, Berscheid and Walster asked participants to rate photographs of three strangers for a number of different categories including personality traits such as overall happiness and career success. When these results were compared to the physical attraction rating of each participant from a rating of studentsthe photographs which were rated the most physically attractive were also rated higher on the other positive traits.
The matching hypothesis Walster et al. This identification of those who have a similar level of attraction, and therefore provide a balance between the level of competition intra-sexual and positive traits is referred to as matching. AO3 Modern dating in society is increasingly visual, with the rise of online dating, particularly using apps such as Tinder. In Dion et al. Landy and Aronson show how the Halo effect occurs in other contexts.
They found that when victims of crime were perceived to be more attractive, defendants in court cases were more likely to be given longer sentences by a simulated jury. When the defendants were unattractive, they were more likely to be sentenced by the jury, which supports the idea that we generalise physical attractiveness as an indicator of other, less visual traits such as trustworthiness.
Feingold conducted a meta-analysis of 17 studies and found a significant correlation between the perceived attractiveness of actual partners rated by independent participants. The first filter proposed when selecting partners was social demography. People are far more likely to have access to people who come from a similar background to themselves. This could relate to geographical proximity, social class, ethnic group or level of education for example.
The second filter that Kerckhoff and Davis suggested was similarity in attitudes. This was supported by their original longitudinal study of two groups of student couples those who had been together for more or less than 18 months. Over seven months, the couples completed questionnaires based on their views and attitudes which were then compared for similarities.
Kerckhoff and Davis suggested that similarity of attitudes was the most important factor in the group who had been together for less than 18 months. This is supported by the self-disclosure research described elsewhere in this topic.
The third filter was complementarity which goes a step further than similarity. Rather than having the same traits and attitudes, such as dominance or humour, a partner in who complements their spouse has traits which the other lacks. For example one partner may be good at organisation, whilst the other is poor at organisation but very good at entertaining guests.
Kerchoff and Davis found that this level of filter was the most important for couples who had been together for more than 18 months. AO3 This theory may be interpreted as similar to the matching hypothesis but for personality rather than physical traits. Some stages of this model may now be seen as less relevant, for example as modern society is much more multi-cultural and interconnected by things such as the internet than in the s, we may now see social demography as less of a barrier to a relationship.
This may lead to the criticism that the theory lacks temporal validity. Again, the investigating the second and third levels of the filter theory look at correlation which cannot easily explain causality. Both Davis and Rusbult and Anderson et al. So it may be that the relationship leads to an alignment of attitudes, and also a greater complementarity as couples assign each other roles: Theories of Romantic Relationships Social Exchange Theory AO1 Psychologists Thibault and Kelley proposed the Social Exchange Theory which stipulates that one motivation to stay in a romantic relationship, and a large factor in its development, is the result of a cost-benefit analysis that people perform, either consciously or unconsciously.
In a relationship people gain rewards such as attention from their partner, sex, gifts and a boost to their self-esteem and incur costs paying money for gifts, compromise on how to spend their time or stress. There is also an opportunity cost in relationships, as time spent with a partner that does not develop into a lasting relationship could have been spent with another partner with better long-term prospects. How much value is placed on each cost and benefit is subjective and determined by the individual.
For example, whilst some people may want to spend as much time as possible with their partner in the early stages of the relationship and see this time together as a reward of the relationship, others may value their space and see extended periods spent together as more of a necessary investment to keep the other person happy. Comparison Levels CL and CLalt The comparison level CL in a relationship is a judgement of how much profit an individual is receiving benefits minus costs.
The acceptable CL needed to continue to pursue a relationship changes as a person matures and can be affected by a number of external and internal factors. External factors may include the media younger people may want for more from a relationship after being socialised by images of romance on films and televisionseeing friends and families in relationships people who have divorced or separated parents may have a different CL to those with parents who are still marriedor experiences from prior relationships, which have taught the person to expect more or less from a partner.
Internal perceptions of self-worth such as self-esteem will directly affect the CL that a person believes they are entitled to in a relationship. If the CL is positive, then the person may not consider the potential benefits of a relationship with another person. AO3 Operationalising rewards and costs is hugely subjective, making comparisons between people and relationships in controlled settings very difficult. Most studies which are used to support Social Exchange Theory account for this by using artificial procedures in laboratory settings, reducing the external validity of the findings.
Michael Argyle questions whether it is the CL which leads to dissatisfaction with the relationship, or dissatisfaction which leads to this analysis. It may be that Social Exchange Theory serves as a justification for dissatisfaction rather than the cause of it. Social Exchange Theory ignores the idea of social equity explained by the next relationship theory concerning equality in a relationship — would a partner really feel satisfied in a relationship where they received all of the rewards and their partner incurred all of the costs?
Equity Theory AO1 Equity theory builds upon the assumption of Social Exchange Theory that romantic relationships can be viewed as economic models loss, risk, benefits etc. If one partner is benefiting from more profit benefits-costs than the other, then both partners are likely to feel unsatisfied. They are under-benefiting whilst their partner over-benefits, which is likely to make both people feel uncomfortable.
What may be more damaging than initial inequity, which can be identified and dealt with or perceived as normal at the beginning of a relationship, is a change in equity over time.
A partner who feels that they are receiving less profit in an inequitable relationship may respond by either working hard to make the relationship more equitable, or by shifting their own perception of rewards and costs to justify the relationship continuing. AO3 Huseman et al. They make a distinction between entitleds who feel that they deserve to gain more than their partner in a relationship and benevolents who are more prepared to invest by worker harder to keep their partner happy.
Clark and Mills argue that we should differentiate between the role of equity in romantic relationships and other types of relationships such as business or casual, friendly relationships. They found in a meta-analysis that there is more evidence that equity is a deciding factor in non-romantic relationships, the evidence being more mixed in romantic partnerships. Social Equity Theory does not apply to all cultures; couples from collectivist cultures where the group needs are more important than those of the individual were more satisfied when over benefitting than those from individualistic cultures where the needs of the individual are more important than those of the individual in a study conducted by Katherine Aumer-Ryan et al.
Some cultures have traditions and expectations that one member of a romantic relationship should benefit more from the partnership. The traditional nuclear family, typical in the early to midth century, was patriarchal, and the woman was often expected to contribute to more tasks, such as housework and raising the children, than the man for whom providing money to the family was perceived to be the primary role.
Satisfaction and Comparison with Alternatives discussed aboveare the first two factors. They are the extent to which a partner feels a relationship is worthwhile for them when comparing other possible relationships and their investment against the rewards offered by the pairing.
The third factor is an addition to the model, investment size, which explains why relationships do not all breakdown when the CL or CLalt are low. Investment in relationships can be measured as a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic investments which have been made over the course of the relationship.
Intrinsic investments are those which have been added by a single partner such as money towards a date or a gift, time spent with the person and any self-disclosures which have been made. Extrinsic investments are those which have been created or developed over the course of the relationship which are shared by both partners, such as large purchases a house or car or even children.
We can observe this in a relationship through relationship maintenance mechanisms, or behaviors which only couples who are committed to a relationship will exhibit. These include behaviors such as forgiveness, willingness to sacrifice, and being overly positive about their partner. This importance was the same across cultures, genders, and also applied to homosexual relationships.
Many of the studies relating to investment in relationship rely on self-report technique. Whilst this would be perceived as a less reliable and overly-subjective method in other areas, when looking at the amount an individual feels they are committed to a relationship, their own opinion and the value that they place on behaviors and attributes is more relevant than objective observations.
Again, investment models tend to give correlational data rather than causal, it may be that a commitment established at an earlier stage leads inevitably to the partner viewing comparisons more favourably and investing more into the relationship.
Intra-Psychic Phase In this phase, one of the partners begins to have doubts about the relationship. They spend time thinking about the pros and cons of the relationship and possible alternatives, including being alone.
They may either internalise these feelings or confide in a trusted friend. Dyadic Phase The partners discuss their feelings about the relationship; this usually leads to hostility and may take place over a number of days or weeks. Over this period the discussions will often focus on the equity in the relationship and will either culminate in a renewed resolution to invest in the relationship, or the realisation that the relationship has broken down.
In a family, children are different and require different resources. One child may be intellectually gifted, and parental care may be shown by support for education. Disproportionate support for one child may result in fewer resources for another child. In communal groups or families, resource distribution is decided by the needs of each member, and desire to help all. In the authority ranking groups the status and ranking hierarchy is what matters.
Members of these groups are aware of the status differences, and roles tend to be clearly specified. Military organizations are examples, but so are modern capitalist organizations that depend on a top down authoritarian structure.
Tribal organizations are usually also authoritarian, and the chief determines who does what, and in what way performance is rewarded or punished. The third type of relationship is equality matching. These relationships are based on equality in resources and preferred outcomes. Many friendships and marriages are governed by some norm of equality. Members should have on the average the same rights, constraints or freedoms.
The essential question asked in response to any requests or demands is: Is it also applicable to the capitalist market system based on the market pricing relationships. Fourth, relationships emerging from the market economy are governed in principle by equity, by what is considered fair.
Salaries should be based on merit and equity, where the compensation received is proportional to the quality and effort made by the individual for example if you cannot pay for medical help, then you get none. While Fiske claims these four types are universal, some relationships are emphasized in a particular culture. Capitalist societies rely on market pricing relationships, and increasingly we are seeing similar relationships in current and formerly socialist countries.
They are interested in what ways adult love relationships are similar to the attachment patterns of infants.
It seems that the intense fascination with the love object, parent or lover, is similar. The adult lover may gaze with intense fascination into the eyes of the beloved, much as the infant gazes into the eyes of the mother. Lovers feel distress at separation, as do infants when the mother leaves the room. In both situations strong efforts are made to be together, spend time together and avoid separation. Adult love relationships also fall into the three attachment patterns described for children.
There are differences as well, as adult relationships involve reciprocal care, and in some cases sexual attraction. Still, the mother would not gaze at the infant unless she found it very rewarding, and there is some reciprocal behavior there. The mother loves her child and is rewarded by adorable gazing and smiles of the infant. Some psychologists feel that this early model of love becomes a working framework for later relationships. The infant who has secure attachments with parents comes to believe that similar relationships can be established as an adult, that people are good and can be trusted.
On the other hand the anxious-ambivalent attachment may produce fear, rejection of intimacy, and distrust in the relationship in the adult. The burden of the generations occurs when a parent passes on to the next generation the attachment style he developed as an infant. The rejection a mother experienced as an infant may become the working model for her child rearing when she is a parent.
There is hope for victims of dysfunctional attachment styles. Sometimes an adult love relationship is so powerful that it can overcome any negative experiences from childhood. Secure adults are comfortable with intimacy and feel worthy of receiving affection from another person.
As a consequence, they also perceive happiness and joy in their love relationships built on self-disclosure and shared activities. It should come as no surprise that secure individuals also have positive perceptions of parents as loving and fair. Later in life secure people develop more satisfying relationships.
Avoidant persons, on the other hand, are often uncomfortable in getting intimate, and never develop full trust in the love partner. They spend much time denying love needs, do not self disclose, and place more importance on being independent and self-reliant. The anxious- ambivalent person wants to become intimate, but worry that the other person does not feel the same. Anxious adults tend to be obsessed with the object of love, experience emotional highs and lows, feel intense sexual attraction, and jealousy.
They often feel unappreciated by their partners, and view their parents as being unhappy. In the effort to help the patient the therapist allows the patient to transfer feelings from some other significant other to the therapist. Temporarily the therapist becomes the father figure, or some other significant person in the therapeutic relationship. We have all met people who remind us of others. The authors have all had the experience of meeting someone who was certain to have met one of us before, or believed we were closely related to someone they knew.
Does the professor of this class remind you of a favored uncle or aunt? Chances are that you will transfer positive feelings toward the professor, and with such an auspicious beginning the outcome may be very good for your study. The relational self-theory is based on the idea that our prior relationships determine how we feel toward those who remind us of such significant others from our past.
They hypothesized that when we encounter someone who reminds us of a significant other from the past we are likely to activate a relational self that determines our interactions with the new person. Meeting people who remind us of past significant others even has emotional consequences.
The participants expressed more positive emotion as judged by facial expressions after being exposed to information about a past positive significant other, and more negative facial expressions after exposure to the information of a negative person. Our past relationships also determine our current interactions.
This finding helps explain our preference for some individuals, and our rejection of others. Positive emotions result from being in the presence of people who remind us of previous positive relations. However, we should remind ourselves that these gut feelings are not the consequence of actual behavior or interactions. Any immediate dislike may have more to do with unpleasant relations of the past, than the person with whom you are currently interacting. Previous relationships affect how we come about this construction of the world.
This is logical when we realize that relationships form the basis of many of our memories. A relationship helps to expand the self-concept by utilizing the resources and characteristics of the other person. These characteristics then become part of the self-concept. This became very visible to us when a close follower of a prominent leader we knew took on characteristics of the admired leader, even to the point of mimicking his speech patterns.
So-called transactive memory is demonstrated when partners know each other so well, that they can complete stories told by the other partner, and remember more information than two randomly paired people. Partners also collaborate in remembering facts. In driving to locations one partner may have good understanding of direction and long distance goals, and the other may remember specific street locations.
Collaborative memory is based on such close relationships. Social cognition is central to an understanding of social psychology and will be discussed in detail in chapter 4. Our past relationships with parents and close significant others have profound effects on attachment and liking, but that only partly answers the question of attraction. Another answer to what motivates people to embark on a relationship is its contribution to survival and success.
However, the average person probably does not evaluate attraction to others on such a calculating basis. That is to say, when it comes to understanding deeper levels of motivation, we like those who are associated with rewarding events and whose behavior is intrinsically rewarding.
We dislike those whose behaviors are a burden to us. At the level of motivation, conscious or unconscious, we seek to maximize our rewards and minimize costs. Many would consider these to be obvious variables in interpersonal attraction. As we shall see beauty is much more than skin deep, and along with similarity and propinquity have profound effects on whom we like, and on our relationships and social successes.
These early researchers performed a sociometric study in a housing complex for married students at MIT called Westgate West. The residents were asked to name their three closest friends. The majority of the respondents named people who lived in the same building, even though other housing units were nearby.
Even within the building proximity was a striking factor, with 41 percent naming their next-door neighbors as best friends, 22 percent named those living two doors away, and only 10 percent pointed to those living at the end of hallways as close friends. The critical factor was the chance of coming in contact. Although there are exceptions when we come to dislike people living next door the result of Festinger and colleagues is a very optimistic finding of social psychology.
It suggests that most people have the capacity for friendships if only given the opportunity. This might even be extended to the most intimate relationships. Rather than waiting for the one and only knight on the white horse, or Cinderella, as romantic illusions would have you do, propinquity findings would suggest that there are millions of potential partners if only given the chance for encounters.
The more we see people the more we like them, so proximity is about familiarity. Then why does familiarity produce liking? Is there some sense of security that comes from knowing that the familiar produces no harm? Is it an evolutionary mechanism where the familiar reduces threat? Do we have an innate fear of the unfamiliar? Are strangers a threat, because we do not know enough about them to predict their behavior?
Perhaps we like those who are familiar, because we can predict their behavior and they are non-threatening. They had female confederates attend class sitting in the first row. There was otherwise no interaction between the female confederates, the instructor, or other students. Yet, when asked at the end of the term, the students rated these women highly for both liking and attractiveness.
There is one caveat. If you find yourself instantly disliking what you consider an obnoxious person, exposure will intensify that effect Swap, For example there are strong correlations between the frequency of exposure to a variety of objects and liking.
Flowers that are mentioned more frequently in our literature are liked more than those mentioned less frequently, e. People, at least in the US, also like pine trees more than birches, and like frequently mentioned cities more than those less well known.
Zajonc argues that it is the mere exposure effect. However, on the other hand perhaps people write more about violets than hyacinths because they are liked more? In another study the more the participants were exposed to words they did not understand Turkish words or Chinese pictographs the more they liked them Zajonc, The stimulus is paired with something desirable, namely the absence of any aversive conditions.
Computers are often used to make contact these days. All modern tools of communication can be used either for ethical or unethical purposes.
There are predators online who lie or manipulate to take advantage of innocent young people. It is not safe. Online the individual has no way to confirm the truth of what another person is saying. Person-to-person we can check for all the nonverbal signals that we have learned from experience indicating truthfulness and trust.
On the other hand, we do not have to worry much about rejection in Internet relationships, so perhaps we have less to loose and therefore can be more honest online? We can more quickly establish intimate relationships, but we may in the process idealize the other person.
Only face-to-face can we decide what is real, and even then we may idealize, although as we will see this can be healthy for long term relationship survival. Proximity effects means that we often marry people who live in the same neighborhoods, or work for the same firm Burr, ; Clarke, The variable is optimistic about meeting someone because our world of potential relationships is unlimited.
If our eyes are open we can find a mate somewhere close by, certainly within walking distance. Perhaps proximity also points to other forms of interpersonal similarity. Generally people living in the same neighborhoods often also come from similar social classes, ethnic groups, and in some parts of the world from the same religious groups. Proximity may therefore also be another way of pointing to similarity as a basis for liking.
The vast majority of those who have had memorable interactions leading to intimacy lived either at the same residence or within one mile from the trusted person. Faces are not completely symmetrical as most of us display some asymmetry where the left side of the face does not perfectly match the right. Our face to a friend looks different from that we see our selves.
The mirror image with which we are familiar is reverse from that which the world sees. If familiarity or mere exposure has an effect, our friends should like the face to which they are accustomed, whereas the individual should also like the mirror image with which he is familiar.
It takes a great deal of effort and expense to maintain long distance relationships. As a result of our work we have relationships in different parts of the world. As the years go by it is more and more difficult to continue with friendships that when we were young we thought would last forever. When you do not see someone in the course of daily activities it takes more effort, and may be costly in other ways.
Long distance relationships take more dedication, time, and expense. Proximity may exert pressures toward liking. It is difficult living or working with someone we dislike.
That cognitive dissonance may cause us to remove stress by stronger efforts of liking the individual. When we know we will interact with someone over time we are likely to focus on the positive qualities, as the alternative is too costly. Think of working with a boss you do not like, how costly that could be? Therefore we put our best foot forward when we meet people who may become part of our daily lives.
Even the anticipation of interaction with others produce liking. Putting your best foot forward is a strategy to produce reciprocal liking. Showing again the opportunistic nature of our most intimate relationships, similarity in social class and religion were the strongest predictors of liking. Similarity of religion or social class may just be frequency or proximity factors, as the likelihood of exposure is greater for these categories. Similarity in physical attractiveness also plays a role and personality characteristics, although to a lesser extent Buss, The similarity effect holds true across a variety of relationships including friendship and marriage.
Not only are friends similar in social class and education, but also gender, academic achievement, and social behavior. A meta-analysis of 80 separate studies showed moderate relationships between similarity and attraction AhYun, Today dating services are established on the principle that similarity is good and functional in relationships.
A good match means finding someone who is similar. Those participants who were matched in attitudes toward gender roles and sexual behavior had the most lasting relationships, one year and even 15 years later. As mentioned above similarity is a potent variable in friendship and mate selection. What are some of the mechanisms that produce this effect? If the issue is important only those with the same or similar values are acceptable.
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So attraction is selective and we rarely encounter those whose views are different. In relationships where the participant committed to someone with different values, or where the parties successfully hide their views, similarity could still be the outcome. Social influence may also change our views over time and produce more similarity. We find pleasure in our relationships with similar others because they confirm our beliefs and the value of our person.
When we meet with likeminded people, they validate our inner most values and expressed attitudes. The rest of the world may cast doubt on our beliefs, and may question who we are as persons, but the likeminded validate our ideologies and personal achievements.
Similarity allows for functional relationships and for more effective communication. When we are with those who are similar, communication is effortless, since we do not have to be on guard for disagreement or rejection. People meet likeminded people at Church, or those with similar occupational interests at work. In many cases the apparent similarity is caused by the selectivity of our social environment. A politically progressive person does not attend meetings of the Ku Klux Klan a racist group in order to find a soul mate.
We choose our friends from our social environment. Being in the same environment produces shared experiences and memories that serve to bond people. We perceive similarity and from that conclude that the other person will like us, thereby initiating communication Berscheid, As a result of having a common basis, similarity in personality traits provides for smooth communications and interactions between people, therefore similarity is less costly.
In one study a young woman expressed an interest in a male participant by eye contact, listening with rapt attention, and leaning forward with interest. When we come to believe someone likes us we behave in ways that encourage mutual liking. We express more warmth, and are more likely to disclose, and behave in a pleasant way. So liking someone works like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
In some societies voluptuous women are considered beautiful, while in our society the fashion industry and the media define attractiveness as being thin.
When it comes to personality based characteristics two factors lead to liking. Warm people are those who have an optimistic outlook on life and people.
We like them because they are a source of encouragement in an otherwise discouraging world. Warm people are a pleasure to be around and therefore rewarding. Sometimes the interviewees expressed negativity toward these objects, in other cases positive views. The participants expressed a greater liking for the interviewee who expressed positive views, i. Social intelligence can be demonstrated by being a good conversationalist.
Obviously communication skills are essential to long-lasting relationships. Those with high communication skills saw interactions as complex with highly valued psychological components. People with low skill levels saw communications as more straightforward and less complicated. To communicate at the same level is a very important aspect of attraction and liking. Operating at the same skill level is rewarding, as we feel empathy and understanding.
But are we not also told that opposites attract? Do tall dark men not prefer short attractive blonds? What about the assertive person meeting the less dominant individual? Or the person who has a rich fantasy life marrying the realist? Are there not times when opposites attract because in some ways we complement each other?
Certainly, for sexual relations the vast majority of humankind seeks the opposite sex, only a minority is attracted to similarity. The masculine and feminine is the supreme example from nature that opposites attract. Complementary personality traits produce liking for only a few personality traits Levinger, ; Winch, When complementarities lead to attraction, it appears to be a rare exception to the dominant effect of similarity.
Even in cases where personalities are complementary on some traits, they have many more similar traits in common. Interracial couples are similar in other significant ways, in attitudes and values.
The dissimilarity is, however, more prominent and is judged more prominently by society which affects an individual evaluation of the dissimilarity. But the significance of similarity in interethnic friendships is less important today than in former times.
Attitudes toward interracial relationships and marriage are becoming increasingly accepted in society, and interracial marriages are on the increase. The vast majority of all racial groups in the US approve of interracial marriages today Goodheart, The studies which support interracial tolerance in intimate relationships appear to differ with the public opinion survey to be cited in chapter 9 which indicated parents prefer similarity of race for their daughters.
The conclusion of the public opinion survey was that social norms now favor such relationships. However, when the respondents were asked something more personal namely, how would they feel if their daughter would be part of an interracial marriage, the outcome was slightly different.
The respondents preferred that their daughter not be a part of an interracial relationship. People are willing to give the normative correct responses to surveys, but hold private and subtler negative attitudes when it affects members of their own family. It must be said, however, that negative evaluations of interracial relationships occur before a relationship is established. Once an interracial relationship is a fact, many opinions change in favor of family harmony and acceptance.
A recommendation for success! Physical attraction is a powerful determinant of liking and has lifelong benefits. Attend any social event and who do you first notice?
If you are a heterosexual man, you will first notice the attractive women, and if you are a woman your eyes will feast on the handsome men.
As we shall see there are little differences between the sexes in the appeal of physical attractiveness. First impressions are important, as without these few people would initiate contact. So while physical attractiveness is important in the early phases of a relationship, the benefits continue in a variety of ways. There may even be a biological basis as preferences for attractive appearance occur early in life. Physical development sometimes brings beauty later in life Zebrowitz, The students had previously taken a number of personality measures and aptitude tests.
Participants had also been rated independently on physical attractiveness. Having spent a short time dancing and talking, the couples were asked to indicate liking and desire to meet the person again. However, in this study there were no differences as female as well as males expressed preferences for physical attractiveness. The contradictions are easy to explain when we remember the different norms governing the attractiveness issue for men and women.
Men are more likely to respond to the common and accepted stereotype that physical attractiveness is important for men, whereas women respond to their stereotype that other traits matter. But in actual behavioral preferences there are few differences. The two photos were used to elicit the physical attractiveness or unattractiveness stereotype.
The respondents in both the attractive and unattractive conditions spoke to the same person. In the new age of video dating, participants show strong preferences for attractive potential dates Woll, Are those who seek out video dating more shallow? Have they impossible high standards encouraged by Playboy and Glamour magazine?
Perhaps, but attractiveness continues to be a positive trait across many forms of social interactions. Studies have also demonstrated direct effects in the workplace.
In the committed partnership women recognize also the importance of other traits like integrity, income potential, and stability. They are therefore more willing to marry a partner who is less than perfect in physical appearance. Perhaps for similar reasons women also prefer older partners, whereas men have a preference for youthful women.
For men physical attractiveness is a necessity, whereas for women, while still important, it is more like a luxury. So there are some consistent gender differences.
Evolutionary psychology would assert that gender differences exist because they are functional to the survival of the species. Women invest much effort and time in bringing a child into the world. To be successful in reproduction requires that women have stable partners with adequate economic and other resources. In the days of the caveman that meant a good cave, warm fire, and ability to provide game.
In our day women look for good earning potential. Men on the other hand invest little, and can impregnate several females. For men therefore the key factor is physical attractiveness. In our evolutionary history men learned that youth and attractiveness is more sexually arousing, and incidentally these qualities in women are associated with fertility and health — men are not looking for fertility and health in the first place, but for good sex.
Men have throughout history been the providers and builders of material comfort; women have been the homemakers. Men in many Western countries now think it is a good idea that women earn money, and both sexes place more importance on physical attractiveness. So perhaps physical attractiveness was always important for women also, but confounded by the need for socio-economic support.
Heterosexual men and women differ however, in the burden of bringing children into the world, and looking after their babies during the most vulnerable period. This gender difference would suggest that women would be more selective in their choices, as they have more at stake.
In all societies studied men are more promiscuous, and women exercise more care in selecting partners, especially for long term relationships Schmitt, Men are attracted to fertility and physical qualities that happen to be associated with fertility, and therefore toward feminine features signaling youth Singh, Women on the other hand, with a shorter biological clock, intuitively look for men who have the capacity and desire to invest in their children, and have a good economic future.
In fact this difference can be observed weekly in the personal ads that appear in many local papers. Support for this gender difference was found cross-culturally in a study of 37 different societies Buss, In all cultures men rated physical attractiveness as more important in a mate, and they preferred younger partners.
Women on the other hand preferred partners who were older, and who could provide material resources. However, these recent changes have not removed fully the historical gender preferences. Men still rank good looks and health higher than women, and women rank the financial prospects of potential mates higher than men. These results call for an interactionist point of view. Gender differences are a function of both our evolutionary past, and our socio-cultural heritage, and it is unlikely we can separate one from the other.
What we believe about the physical attractive All cultures have stereotypes that attribute positive qualities to the physically attractive. Even young children at a very early age have an awareness of who is and is not attractive. Commonly accepted stereotypes attribute many positive traits and behaviors to the physically attractive. Persons rated attractive were perceived to be happier, more intelligent, as having more socio-economic success, and possessing desirable personality traits.
This undeserved stereotype is consistent across cultures but varies according to cultural values. For women more than for men, physical attractiveness is a door opener. Over the centuries, physical attractiveness for women was tied to their survival, and social success. Some studies show that even from birth babies differ in their relative attractiveness.
Many rewards accrue to those deemed attractive in our society. Infant preferences for attractive faces held true for both adults as well as for the faces of other infants. Even when presented to strangers, the infants showed preference for the attractive face, and were more content to play and interact with the attractive stranger. Being treated so nice from birth onward produces the confidence and traits that encourage further positive interactions and rewards Langlois et al, Other people by their positive regards create a self-fulfilling prophecy as the attractive person responds with the expected socially skillful behavior.
Although beauty is a door opener in all cultures, each culture may vary as to what traits are considered desirable. Some traits associated with attractiveness like being strong and assertive are especially valued in North American samples. Other traits such as being sensitive, honest, and generous are valued in Korean cultures.
Some traits like happy, poised, extraverted, and sexually warm and responsive are liked in all the cultures studied. When with an attractive woman the confederate was perceived as both likeable and confident. There are predictable gender differences. Reproductive health There are some variations among cultures as to what is considered attractive. Western society has changed over time in evaluation of female beauty.
Like mentioned before, just a short historical time ago voluptuous women were considered attractive whereas today the skinny woman is considered more alluring. In the China of the past, artificially bound small feet of women were thought sexually stimulating and in other cultures women lengthened their necks by adding rings and stretching that body part. So there are cultural variations in what is considered beautiful and attractive. As discussed previously, even infants have a preference for attractive faces.
The appreciation of beauty must derive from something very functional to our survival and hence to reproduction. Physical attractiveness most importantly signifies good health, and reproductive fitness. Keep in mind that those traits that are functional to our survival are also preserved in biology and our genes. If our ancestors had been attracted to unhealthy persons, they would not have had any offspring. Nature informs us by physical attractiveness that the proposed partner possesses good reproductive health.
We are attracted to faces that typify the norm, and stay away from those that are anomalous. By means of computer technology, they managed to make composite faces of a number of persons or average facesand found that these were considered more attractive than different individual faces.
Having average features is one component of beauty. Departures from bilateral symmetry may indicate the presence of disease, or the inability to resist disease.
Average features and symmetry are attractive, from the evolutionary perspective, conceivably because they signal good health to a prospective mate. These cues exist at such a basic level that we have no conscious awareness of their presence.