Effect of Similarity on Interpersonal Attraction Term Paper

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Effects of similarity on interpersonal attraction

The aim of the various researches carried out on how individuals interact and form either positive or negative relationships. To fully investigate these issues, Bryne (1961) highlighted the need to acquire knowledge about the various independent variables. Majorly, Bryne (1961) contends that the functional and physical distance influences interpersonal attraction and interactions in general. Another variable is the environment, which should be conducive to allow and encourage interaction and lastly, individual properties that stimulate responses from other individuals from other similar interactions they may have encountered previously. The main problem however that was been investigated by the various researchers aimed at finding out the impact of similar attitudes to attraction and the reasons for these impacts (Bryne, 1961, pg.713).

Two factors ultimately influence interpersonal attraction after the initial interaction has been established. These factors have been identified punishment and mutual reward. Therefore, attraction is encouraged when reciprocal rewards are present in any interactions whereas dislike can generally be associated with punishments. In other words, similarities or dissimilarities between individuals are the major determining factors to interpersonal attraction. The perception of a particular culture, therefore, sets standards about issues in their environment and whoever deviates from these standards is perceived to be immoral, uninformed or lacking intelligence. At the end of the day therefore, Bryne (1961) explains that when a person exhibits similarity in opinion with our set standards, this results to a reward interaction and positive relationships are formed. On the other hand, if an individual displays dissimilarities with our attitudes, a punishing interaction occurs leading to a negative relationship. Previous research on this theory revealed that friends tended to portray great similarities as compared to individuals who are not friends (Bryne, 1961, pg.713).

Batchelor and Tesser (1971) used a sample of 40 participants to investigate the effects that similar or dissimilar attitudes had on interpersonal attraction and the reason as to why these attitudes were being held. These participants were provided with information about other people including their attitude on various topics both similar and dissimilar. They were also given information as to why the other people held those attitudes based on their need for cognition, ego defensive, value expressive, utilitarian, and value expressive. The findings largely confirmed the hypotheses that had been assumed by the investigating team. Firstly, others who had similar attitudes were more attractive as compared to the similar others. Moreover, others who had been categorized as having value-expressive attitudes were also found to be most attractive whereas their counterparts who were categorized as having ego-defensive attitudes were least attractive. These findings revealed those individuals who portray value-expressive attitudes are liked more as compared to those who might express ego-defensive attitudes. It also becomes apparent that value-expressive individuals have attitudes that are culturally perceived as desirable whereas the ego-defensive individuals may be inconsistent, adjust poorly to the environment, lack self-insight or portray unfavorable attitudes as perceived culturally. In summary of the findings, the findings reveal that attitude similarity affected both attraction and also the reason why the attitude is held affects attraction (Batchelor & Tesser, 1971, pg.235).

Human beings, both male and female, always tend to be attracted to members of the opposite sex. To investigate this aspect, participants both male and female were expected to give their attitudes towards others of the opposite sex based on physical attractiveness. They were expected give their liking of others based on the level of physical attractiveness, high, medium or low and also for "similar, moderately similar or dissimilar attitudes" (Stroebe, Insko, Thompson, Layton, 1971, pg 82). Furthermore, they were expected to give their preferences as a marriage or dating partner or as a workmate. The results showed generally that participants' attraction was great to others who were physically attractive and those with similar attitudes as compared to those who were physically unattractive and had dissimilar attitudes. Moreover, female participants tended to be attracted more by similarity on working and working while the males' were attracted more by the physical attractiveness for liking as a marriage, dating and working. Furthermore, physical attractiveness emerged to have the greatest effect on dating as compared to marrying for both sexes although there was a greater difference for males. These findings also showed that participants made their selections based on self-rating of attractiveness. Those subjects who viewed themselves as attractive tended prefer others who were also physically attractive and those subjects who considered themselves as unattractive similarly seemed more inclined to unattractive others. These findings concur with the notion that has been held by researcher previously, which suggested that individuals prefer workmates with similar attitudes rather than dissimilar ones. Moreover, similar others, according to these findings also were more likeable as dating or marriage partners. However, Stroebe et al. (1971) contradict with the theory that positive interaction is a direct result of positive responses. They also agree that though a less attractive individual may not fair-well for dating, they may possess other good qualities that make them more likely to be marriage material (Stroebe et al. 1971, pg.89).

Another research that investigated the proportionality of a person's attraction to another person is a linear function of his personality that tends to have similarities to the other person. In an experiment with a sample of 151 participants who were asked to observe the responses of a stranger on the repression-sensitization, scale (also called R-S scale). The responses were similar to the responses given by the stranger and therefore indicated that attraction was proportional to similar responses and also by repression-sensitization. In yet another experiment involving 149 strangers, attitude similarities were found to influence attraction but repression-sensitization had no influence on attraction. These findings backed up those from previous researcher reinforcing the theory that personality similarities affect attraction and therefore disregarded repressor-sensitizer was artifactual (Byrne, Griffitt, Stefaniak, 1967, pg.87-89).

Another study involving 844 participants, and which intended to find out if a desirable personality was the only factor that determines whether a person is liked in a group of people or being similar to other members within the group also matter. These participants were assigned into groups and left to spend six weeks in contact. This enabled them to assess their own and also other members' personalities. Once again, this experiment revealed that individual with similar personalities tended to like each other better as compared to those with dissimilar trends. Furthermore, demographic factors, such as race and sex also tended to predict liking irrespective of the personality similarities. More findings led to the conclusion that participants experienced more liking for friends of the same sex and compared to cross-sex relationships. Furthermore, women reported a stronger effect of this tendency than the male participants did. It also revealed that, in general, individuals of the same race exhibit stronger relationships as compared to those from different races (Tenney, Turkheimer, Oltmanns, 2009, pg.584).

A comparison of these research articles have brought to light some permanent issues with regard to the effect of similarity to interpersonal attraction. From the findings of the various researches, it emerges that attitude similarity is the most crucial factor as regard to forming friendships. Dissimilarity in attitudes or personality between individuals has also been identified by the various researches as being a factor that hampers interpersonal attractions. Although these findings, to a large extent, seemed to agree, there were a number of differences that emerge. The methodologies employed by the various researchers were varied ranging from the use of the R-S scale to the use of specially designed questionnaires. Moreover, the participants in the various experiments were varied from students to military personnel. Although the hypotheses were all different in the different researches reviewed in this paper. For example, Tenney et al. (2009) tend to focus more on the effect of race and sex to interpersonal attraction,…

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