Interpersonal Attraction & Attitudes
|Interpersonal Attraction: Liking & Loving|
Key Factors in Attraction
What is the message of a show like ABC's Extreme Makeover or other such shows?
1. Physical Attractiveness
- Is it "personality" or "looks" at the beginning of a relationship?
- Key factor early in relationship (according to the research) = physical attractiveness, esp. by males looking for females
- Matching hypothesis: we are likely to take as partners people who are roughly about the same level of physical attractiveness, e.g., married couples tend to be similar.
- Do opposites attract? Not really.
- Couples tend to be similar on many qualities: age, race, religion, SES, attitudes, intelligence, etc.
- Friendship: similarities of SES, education, religion, ethnicity, occupational status
- Shared attitudes (attitude similarity), beliefs, and outlooks
- People become more alike (attitude alignment)
- We like those who like us. By showing us that they like us, we tend to respond (reciprocate)
- Married & dating partners: Tendency to idealize the other partner, i.e., you have a higher estimate of the other than they have of themselves.
- Best relationships: focus on partner's virtues and positive factors rather than faults or negatives.
The Nature of Love
Elaine Hatfield (U Hawaii, L)
Ellen Berscheid (U Minn, M)
Bob Sternberg (Yale U, R)
Types: Passionate & Companionate
- Passionate Love => intense absorption or attention to the other including tender sexual feelings and intense emotions. This predominates in the beginnings of a marital relationship.
- Companionate Love => feelings of warmth, affection, trust, and tolerance toward another whose life is closely connected with one's own. This kind of love begins to predominate in a marital relationship which has matured.
Robert Sternberg's Theory
- Passion = Passionate Love
- Companionate Love is divided into two factors
- Intimacy: warmth, closeness, sharing
- Commitment: Desire to stay in relationship in spite of difficulties or costs
Research suggests that commitment is central. At early stages of a relationship, it is a better predictor of whether the relationship breaks up than overall ratings of love.
Attachment & Love
Do adult styles of relationship and love parallel patterns of attachment of infants and children?
Recall the attachment styles of infants and children
In 1980s, Hazan & Shaver found parallels between adult relationship (attachment) styles and early parenting & infancy attachment styles. They found that adults recalled that the quality of their interactions as children with parents was similar in many respects to the ways in which they responded in current relationships.
Adult Attachment Style
YouTube Video demonstrating these styles in adulthood
- Secure: Ease in entering into relationships, getting close to others, and trusting the partner in a relationship
- Avoidant: Difficult to get close to others, lack of intimacy
- Anxious-Ambivalent: Preoccupied with love, expectation of rejection, jealousy, volatile relationship with partner
Research has tended to support these findings:
- Securely attached adults = more committed, more satisfied, longer duration in relationships
- Anxious-ambivalent adults = greater swings (highs & lows) in their relationships; experience greater stress when in conflict with partner
- Avoidant = more casual sex which requires little psychological intimacy
- Avoidant & anxious-ambivalent adults do not seek out similar adults as partners
Attitudes = positive or negative evaluations of objects of thought
What are objects of thought?
- People (Bernie Madoff, Brad Pitt, etc.)
- Institutions (Le Moyne College, the Catholic Church, the US Congress, etc.)
- Groups (women, conservatives, Boy Scouts, etc.)
- Political and Social Issues (gun control, Iraqi war, health care reform, etc.)
Components & Dimensions of Attitudes
Three elements together make up out attitudes:
1. Cognitive: Beliefs about object of thought
2. Affective: Feelings & emotions evoked by object of thought
3. Behavioral: Predisposition to act toward the object of thought
For example, an object of thought might be "Obama" which might lead to the following set of contrasting attitudes:
Positive Attitude (Pro)
Negative Attitude (Anti)
Cognitive He is a smart and tough "new" politician who has tackled hard issues -- the economy, health care, etc. -- despite unyielding opposition. He is relentless in tracking down terrorists and protecting the US from them. He is a loving husband and devoted father.
He is an extremist with sympathies to enemies of the United States ("he is a Muslim and a socialist or communist"). He is aloof and out-of-touch with real America. He wants to give away hard-earned money to those who are unwilling to work.
Affective Pride, passion, commitment Contempt, disgust, anger Behavioral Tend to vote for him for President or contribute to his campaign
Listen to FOX News, give money to the Romney/Ryan campaign, vote for anyone but Obama
Changing Attitudes: Factors in Persuasion
- How do we change people's minds or shape their attitudes? This is the central issue in advertising as well as politics!
Source Message Channel Receiver Who? What? How? To Whom?
- High Credibility
- Logical vs. Emotional
- Balance (1 vs. 2 sided): 2-sided often better
- Fear does work
- TV or Radio
- Computer (Internet!)
- Strength of Preexisting Attitude
- Ronald Reagan
(Obama 2012 campaign)
"Believe in America!"
(Romney 2012 campaign)
The Congress in 2003 responded to a mostly Internet-based outcry against the FCC's ruling to increase media concentration Readers of Consumers' Report are less easily swayed by salespersons because they already know about products and their qualities
Theories of Attitude Formation & Change
How do we get our attitudes? Why do we change what we believe? There are three sets of theories.
1. Learning Theory
- Classical Conditioning: Pairing products/objects of thought with stimuli that evoke pleasant or favorable responses
- Michael Jordan and Nike Sneakers
- Operant Conditioning: Receiving positive reinforcement (or punishment) for expressing an attitude
- Making a political statement and receiving positive comments from others strengthens the political viewpoint
- Observational Learning: Watching/listening to others leads to adoption of their viewpoints
- Children listen to their parents' viewpoints politically
2. Dissonance Theory (Leon Festinger)
The phenomenon of "cognitive dissonance" is also similar to the notion of Effort Justification, i.e., when we have put a lot of work and effort into something that doesn't turn out the way we expected it to be, we tend to conform or change our attitudes to account for or justify the effort.
- We wait on line for hours to see a movie which is not very good. We may claim it is better than it actually was.|
- We spend a lot of money on a CD which is only mediocre. We begin to hear positive qualities in the music that other don't
- Consider how President Bush spoke about the Iraqi War's aftermath compared to what was said beforehand. Do you hear any "effort justification" going on?
3. Elaboration Likelihood Model (Richard Petty & John Cacioppo)
Two routes to persuasion:
- Central Route: Based on content & logic; requires a lot of mental effort to process; attitude change is more enduring. Very difficult.
- Peripheral Route: Based on superficial elements like attractiveness, emotion, spokesperson credibility; requires little mental effort to process; attitude change is less enduring. Easier.
This page was originally posted on 11/07/03 and last updated on November 10, 2016