Relationships - examine biological, psychological, and social origins of attraction Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Relationships - examine biological, psychological, and social origins of attraction Deck (14):


when one person experiences interest in forming a relationship with another person


biological origins of attraction

assumes that attraction has a survival purpose

- partner selection based on love (Fisher et al, 2003)
- partner selection based on genetic advantage (Wedekind et al, 1995)


biological origins of attraction: love

- based on the idea that humans have 3 motivational systems: attraction, sex drive, and attachment
- the interaction of the 3 systems produces the experience of the emotions, motivations, and behaviours associated with the concept of love
- attraction: focused attention on a specific mate, obsessive following, possessive mate-guarding, motivation to win a preferred mating partner, etc; evolutionary function is to select one favored partner
- sex drive: craving for sexual gratification; evolutionary function is to produce offspring
- attachment: grooming, separation anxiety, shared parental chores, etc; evolutionary function is for parents to remain together long enough to complete parental duties and experience it as rewarding

study: Fisher et al. (2003)


Fisher et al. (2003)

- conducted fMRI scans on several couples who reported having been in love for over 7 months
- filled a questionnaire to investigate how each felt about their relationship
- during scanning, they were asked to first look at a photograph of their beloved, then perform a distraction task counting backwards, then finally asked to look at a photograph of a neutral acquaintance
- when participants looked at their lover, increased activity was seen in dopamine-rich brain areas (associated with reward, motivation, and goal orientation)


biological origins of attraction: partner selection based on genes

- different characteristics may represent ideal traits (e.g. fertility, ambition, complementary immune system)

study: Wedekind et al (1995)


Wedekind et al (1995)

- studied whether females could identify males who had a genetic make-up which, in combination with her own, would boost the immune system of potential children
- men were asked to sleep with a shirt for two nights and to keep it in a plastic bag (without washing)
- women were later asked to smell 7 different shirts and rate the agreeableness of the smell
- 3 were from men with a similar immune system, 3 were from men with a dissimilar immune system (best match in terms of genes), and one was a control
- found that women preferred odours of men with a dissimilar immune system
- this supports evolutionary explanations of mate selection in humans


evaluation of biological explanations

- empirical support for biological systems being involved in attraction
- but that doesn't necessarily mean there aren't other factors affecting attraction
- while brain-imaging tech do show specific activity in attraction, the brain is very complex and neuro-imaging data can only describe (not explain) attraction
- also very difficult to test evolutionary theories
- evolutionary theories cannot explain same-sex attraction


psychological origins of attraction

assumes that psychological events (e.g. fear) interact with biological processes (e.g. arousal), leading to attraction

- similarity-attraction hypothesis (Burne, 1971)


psychological origins: similarity-attraction hypothesis

Burne (1971):
- people are more likely to be attracted to individuals who are perceived to be similar to themselves
e.g. similar attitudes and values
- because this validates our own attitudes/values and boosts our selfƒ-esteem, which leads to attraction

study: Markey and Markey (2007)


Markey and Markey (2007)

- single undergraduate students completed a questionnaire, self-reporting their personality and describing the personality of their romantic ideal
- all participants wanted a romantic partner with similar traits to themselves
- it appears that similarity in a potential partner is important but maybe this ideal partner is difficult to find
- follow-up study found that that romantic couples who experienced high levels ofƒ love and harmony were
more likely to consist oƒf one individual who was dominant and one who was submissive
- indicates that complementary personality factors can positively affect a relationship's harmony


evaluation of attraction-similarity hypothesis

Morry (2007):
- agrees with the idea that people are attracted to those that they perceive as similar
- this perceived similarity may not necessarily be accurate (maybe because they project their own attitudes onto them)


sociocultural origins of attraction

assumes that social factors (e.g. proximity) can lead to attraction

- proximity theory of attraction (Festinger et al., 1950)


proximity theory of attraction

simply being physically around another individual enhances the probability ofƒ becoming ƒfriends

study: Festinger et al. (1950)


Festinger et al. (1950)

- studied friendship patterns at a university housing complex
- noted that opportunities to bump into each other regularly increased chances of friendships developing
- this suggests that physical proximity creates opportunities for interaction, which in turn increases familiarity
- Zajonc (1968): mere exposure effƒƒect is enough to increase liking

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