Interpersonal attraction is the attraction between people which leads to friendships and romantic relationships. Interpersonal attraction, the process, is distinct from perceptions of physical attractiveness which involves views of what is and is not considered beautiful or attractive.
Research also suggests that interpersonal attraction is associated with attitude similarity. Research by Newcomb (1956) implies that the direction of causality underlying this association runs from attitude similarity to attraction. Specifically, attitude similarity of individuals before they meet predicts interpersonal attraction months later (Newcomb, 1956(. Experimental evidence that manipulates the attitude similarity of a previously unknown target person provides further evidence of this causal effect (Byrne, 1961).
Extending this thinking, some investigators, including Lott and Lott (1968) and Clore and Byrne (1974), have made use of the concept of reinforcement in attempting to account for interpersonal attraction. Responses and pleasurable feelings which stem from receiving rewards become associated, it is proposed, with the provider, or even with a third party who happens to be consistently present when they are dispensed.
The factors that are linked to interpersonal attraction including liking are described as follows. Proximity or Propinquity. Proximity provides the opportunity for friendships to develop. It is the degree to which people are geographically close to one another, and it plays a large role in determining who we like (Byrne & Neuman, 1992). In organizations, individuals who work near each other are more likely to interact with each other and have more opportunity to become attracted to each other (Quinn & Judge, 1978).
Interpersonal attraction exists between two people when they make, or wish to make, more approach responses than avoidance responses to each other. It is this, the presence of an interpersonal attraction, that leads to the spontaneous formation of dyads. Informally, we say that two people are "drawn" to each other or that some kind of "magnetism" exists. It should be noted that attraction is not necessarily interpersonal. It is interpersonal only if the attraction is mutual.
A new study suggests that when young men interact with a woman who is in the fertile period of her menstrual cycle, they pick up on subtle changes in her skin tone, voice, and scent - usually subconsciously - and respond by changing their speech patterns.
Specifically, they become less likely to mimic the woman's sentence structure. According to the researchers, this unintentional shift in language may serve to telegraph the man's creativity and nonconformity - qualities that are believed to attract potential mates.
A number of experimental investigations provide seemingly unequivocal evidence that it is variation in the similarity-dissimilarity of needs, attitudes and values, which influence attraction, rather than the reverse: e.g., Izard (1960), Banta and Hetherington (1963), Byrne (1962), for needs, Jones and Daughterty (1959), Smith (1958), Byrne (1961) for values and attitudes. In this regard Marlowe and Gergen (1969) conclude that the fact of a positive relationship between similarity and attraction seems inescapably clear.
Proximity promotes attraction by increasing the frequency of contact between people. In general, we are attracted to people we see often. (That's one reason why actors costarring in movies together often become romantically involved.) In short, there does seem to be a "boy-next-door" or "girl-next-door" effect in romantic attraction, and a "folks-next-door" effect in friendship.
In light of the evidence marshalled above, three conclusions seem warranted. First, manipulated self-regard and assumed self-concept similarity, both of which are instances of perceived self-concept support, produced a positive main effect on interpersonal attraction. Second, actual self-concept similarity did not affect this relationship. Third, perceived self-concept support acted as a message variable capable of being manipulated in terms of its focus and intensity.
In his study, Newcomb assembled groups of housemates and asked them to complete attitude questionnaires. By collecting interpersonal attraction data on all housemates toward one another at several time points, his findings revealed that attitude similarity predicted attraction in later relational stages, but not early ones.
Attraction has either been viewed as unidimensional or multidimensional. Some researchers assume that attraction is unidimensional, holding the view that repulsion is a mirror image of attraction. Following this, one disliking someone, would naturally like him less. This notion takes an extreme view, whereby someone may be attracted towards one another or not. The multidimensional concept considers that negative and positive feelings towards another are not interdependent but independent of each other. That is, the same individual may be the target of extreme attraction and repulsion.
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