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Discuss Psychological Origins of Attraction - Physical Attractiveness and Similarity

Essay by   •  August 27, 2011  •  Case Study  •  812 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,106 Views

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In this essay I will discuss psychological origins of attraction, this include physical attractiveness and similarity.

Attraction is a desire for a specific person. It is a complex human behaviour with numerous varied origins and causes. There is a large amount of research which suggests there are a number of psychological origins that affect how much we are attracted to a person in the first place, whether as a potential friend or romantic partner.

Physical attractiveness (a psychological origin) plays an important role in attraction. Physical attractiveness appears to affect initial attractive through a positive stereotype. This means that when we see a person as physically attractive, we tend to attribute other positive behaviours to them. For example, physically attractive people are perceived as sexually warmer, more sociable, and more socially skilled. Psychologists call this the halo effect or the physical attractiveness stereotype, which has been described as the tendency for people "to ascribe socially desirable personality traits to those who are good looking, seeing them as more sociable, poise, and well-adjusted than those who are less attractive."

A research carried out by Wheeler and Kim (1997) supports the physical attractiveness stereotype. Results of this research indicate that Korean, American and Canadian students rated physical attractive people as being more sociable, friendly, happy, and mature.

The strength of this research is the participants varied from different cultures therefore the results are generalizable. However, a problem is that participants may have acted differently around attractive people because of their expectations, which did actually bring out the best in attractive people and contributed to the results. Therefore this stereotype is likely to be self-fulfilling.

From an evolutionary perspective, researchers suggest that physical attractiveness is important in initial attractiveness because people who are regarded as physically attractive generally possess characteristics that will in some way guarantee breeding success. However, it is difficult to come close to showing that an evolutionary explanation is accurate.

Interestingly, it is not necessary that everyone would seek the most attractive partner. The matching hypothesis suggests that we are attracted to those individuals who closely match our perceptions of our level of attractiveness. It also suggests that although we may be attracted to physically attractive individuals as potential partners, a compromise is necessary to avoid rejecting from our more attractive choices.

Similarity (another psychological origin) also plays an important role in attraction. Attraction-similarity model (Morry 2077) states that people tend to see friends and partners as similar to themselves. In other words,

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