When we say that we like or love someone, we are experiencing interpersonal attraction -the strength of our liking or loving for another person. There is a large literature on the variables that lead us to like others in our initial interactions with them, and we’ll review the most important findings here (Sprecher, Wenzel, & Harvey, 2008).
Although it may seem inappropriate or shallow to admit it, and although it is certainly not the only determinant of liking, people are strongly influenced, at least in initial encounters, by the physical attractiveness of their partners (Swami & Furnham, 2008). Elaine Walster and her colleagues (Walster, Aronson, Abrahams, & Rottman, 1966) arranged a field study in which college boys and girls were randomly paired with one another at a “computer dance.” After the partners had danced and talked for a couple of hours, they were interviewed separately about their own preferences and characteristics as well as about their perceptions of their date. Walster and her colleagues found that the only important determinant of participants’ liking for their date was his or her physical attractiveness.
Perhaps this finding doesn’t surprise you too much, given the importance of physical attractiveness in popular culture. Movies and TV shows often feature unusually attractive people, TV ads use attractive people to promote their products, and many people spend considerable amounts of money each year to make themselves look more attractive. Even infants who are only a year old prefer to look at faces that adults consider attractive rather than at unattractive faces (Langlois, Ritter, Roggman, & Vaughn, 1991).
People who are attractive are also seen as having a variety of positive characteristics, and these traits are activated quickly and spontaneously when we see their faces (Olson & ). For instance, more attractive people are seen as more sociable, altruistic, and intelligent than their less attractive counterparts (Griffin & Langlois, 2006). Similar patterns have been found in relation to online contexts.
Attractive people also have more choices of sex partners (Epstein, Klinkenberg, Scandell, Faulkner, & Claus, 2007), are more likely to be offered jobs (Dubois & Pansu, 2004), and ). These positive evaluations of and behavior toward attractive people likely relate to the belief that external attractiveness signifies positive internal qualities, which has been referred to as the what is beautiful is good stereotype (Dion, Berscheid, & Walster, 1972).
Although interpersonal attraction occurs between friends, family members, and other people in general, and although our analysis can apply to these relationships as well, our primary focus in this chapter will be on romantic attraction, whether in opposite-sex or same-sex relationships
Although it is sometimes said that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” (i.e., that each person has his or her own idea about what is beautiful), this is not completely true. There is good agreement among people, including children, and www.besthookupwebsites.org/fruzo-review/ within and across cultures, about which people are most physically attractive (Berry, 2000; Ramsey, Langlois, Hoss, Rubenstein, & Griffin, 2004). This agreement is in part due to shared norms within cultures about what is attractive, which ong cultures, but it is also due to evolutionary predispositions to attend to and be influenced by specific characteristics of others.
For example, those judged more attractive on the basis of their online dating site photographs are also rated as having more positive profiles in terms of text content (Brand, Bonatsos, D’Orazio, & DeShong, 2012)
Leslie Zebrowitz and her colleagues have extensively studied the tendency for both men and women to prefer facial features that have youthful characteristics (Zebrowitz, 1996). These features include large, round, and widely spaced eyes, a small nose and chin, prominent cheekbones, and a large forehead. Zebrowitz has found that individuals who have youthful-looking faces are more liked, are judged as warmer and more honest, and also receive other positive outcomes. Parents give baby-faced children fewer chores and punishments, and people with young-looking faces are also required to pay lower monetary awards in courtroom trials (Zebrowitz & McDonald, 1991). On the other hand, baby-faced individuals are also seen as less competent than their more mature-looking counterparts (Zebrowitz & Montpare, 2005).