Thursday, January 10, 2013

Theories of Attraction: Basics

Attraction is beyond our will or ideas sometimes.

Juliette Binoche

Why are we attracted to certain people and not others?  Why do our friends tend to be very similar to each other?  And what causes us to decide on a mate?  Many of these questions relate to social psychology in that society's influence and our own beliefs and traits play an important role. 

Basically, there are four different types of attraction, starting with Interpersonal Attraction, relating to the force that draws people together.  The three more familiar types are Physical Attraction, the attraction to another person based on their looks, Social Attraction being the attraction to another's personality, and Task Attraction, meaning you are attracted to a person's abilities and dependability.  These four aspects are the basic ideas behind how people come to meet.

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Main Factors

We will review briefly several especially powerful factors of attraction that researchers suggest: personal appearance, proximity, similarity, and complementarity, and several additional factors, as association and reciprocal liking. 

      1)      Personal Appearance of Attraction:

Humans are highly visually oriented, which motivates a person to get to know someone better they find physically attracted to. Humans have always valued and appreciate physical attractiveness. Throughout history, humans wanted mates that were more physically attractive.

Personal appearance plays a role in that people tend to have a want to be surrounded by others who are physically attractive, which is believed to come from the idea that attractive people are healthy and are more likely to have healthy children, even if we don't take this into consideration it is said that we do on a subconscious level.

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      2)      Proximity of Attraction:

Firstly, what does proximity mean? Proximity is how close/near people live or work and how they interact. Humans are more likely to form friendships and relationships with others that they see often.

Indeed, it is quite understandable that people tend to make bonds with those who surround them, be that at work or the place they live, mainly just people whom they see on a regular basis.  This traditional factor, however, has been substantially impacted by the modern technology of communication. The Internet is already making a big impact on physical proximity.  It has made it very easy to keep in touch with people who are both close and far away.  With the use of social networking sites, you can even stay posted with what is going on in people's everyday life, no matter how far away they may be. 

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      3)      Similarity of Attraction:

Think about your friends or spouse. Think about their personalities, beliefs, experiences, and interests. Now think about yourself. You probably have a lot in common with them, don’t you? We often find people that are similar to us more comfortable and familiar to interact with. It almost seems as if we already know them from inside and out because of common interests. Humans find similarity to be attractive because of social validation to find people who are similar, and because of our genetic interests. Genetic interests? Yes, our primitive ancestors distinguished relatives from nonrelatives because of physical appearance and behavior.

The similarity then breaks down to four smaller categories – demographic similarity, attitudinal similarity, similarity in physical attractiveness, and similarity in interests and experiences.

      4)      Complementary of Attraction:

There is a saying that says, “Opposites attract.” Why is this though? No one is going to be exactly the same. Everyone differs in one way or another. We attract others that are opposite because we see their differences as complementary. Complementary refers to as benefits to ourselves because others provide a quality that we lack. The key to this, although, is that the people involved have to see their differences as positive just to get along. Shy people may be attracted to someone outgoing because that way the shy person can be more sociable.

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      5)      Association:

We tend to associate our opinions about other people with our current state.  In other words, if you meet someone during a party you really enjoy, they may get more 'likeability points' then if you met them during that party you feel bored.

      6)      Reciprocal Liking:

Simply put, we tend to like those better who also like us back.  This may be a result of the feeling we get about ourselves knowing that we are likable.  When we feel good when we are around somebody, we tend to report a higher level of attraction toward that person.

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Sources and Additional Information:

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