Sunday, October 28, 2007

Reference List


Barber, N. (1998). Secular changes in standards of bodily attractiveness in American women: Different masculine and feminine ideals. The Journal of Psychology, 132, 87-94.

Baron, R.A., Byrne, D., & Branscombe, N.R. (2006). Social Psychology (11th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Baumeister, R.F., & Bushman, B.J. (2008). Social Psychology and Human Nature. Belmont, CA: Thomson Higher Education.

Breckler, S.J., Olson, J.M., & Wiggins, E.C. (2006). Social Psychology Alive. Belmont, CA: Thomson Higher Education.

Byrne, D. (1997). An overview of research and theory within the attraction paradigm. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 14, 417-431.

Byrne, D., & Clore, G.L. (1970). A reinforcement-affect model of evaluative responses. Personality: An International Journal, 1, 103-128.

Cunningham, M.R., Barbee, A.P., & Pike, C.L. (1990). What do women want? Facialmetric assessment of multiple motives in the perception of male and female facial physical attractiveness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 61-72.

Dittes, J.E., & Kelley, H.H. (1956). Effects of different conditions of acceptance upon conformity to group norms. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 53, 100-107.

Festinger, L., Schachter, S., & Back, K. (1950). Social pressures in informal groups: A study of human factors in housing. New York: Harper.

Fraley, B., & Aron, A. (2004). The effect of a shared humorous experience on closeness in initial encounters. Personal Relationships, 11, 61-78.

Gangestad, S.W., & Scheyd, G. (2005). The evolution of human physical attractiveness. Annual Review of Anthropology, 34, 523-548.

Grammer, K., & Thornhill, R. (1994). Human (Homo Sapiens) facial attractiveness and sexual selection: The role of symmetry and averageness. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 108, 233-242.

Johnson, S. (2003). Laughter. Discover, 62-68.

Joiner, T.E. Jr. (1994). The interplay of similarity and self-verification in relationship formation. Social Behavior and Personality, 22, 195-200.

Kalick, S.M., & Hamilton III, T.E. (1986). The matching hypothesis reexamined. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 673-682.

Klohnen, E.C., & Luo, S. (2003). Interpersonal attraction and personality: What is attractive- Self similarity, ideal similarity, complementarity, or attachment security. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 709-722.

Langlois, J.H., & Roggman, L.A. (1990). Attractive faces are only average. Psychological Science, 1, 115-121.

Lehr, A.T., & Geher, G. (2006). Differential effects of reciprocity and attitude similarity across long versus short term mating contexts. The Journal of Social Psychology, 146, 423-439.

Mealey, L., Bridgstock, R., & Townsend, G.C. (1999). Symmetry and perceived facial attractiveness: A monozygotic co-twin comparison. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 151-158.

Michener, H.A., & DeLamater, J.D. (1999). Social Psychology (4th ed.). Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.

Saegert, S., Swap, W., & Zajonc, R.B. (1973). Exposure, context and interpersonal attraction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 25, 234-242.

Singh, D. (1993). Adaptive significance of female physical attractiveness: Role of waist-hip ratio. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 293-307.

South, S. J. (1991). Socio-demographic differentials in mate selection preferences. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 53, 928-940.

Swami, V., Caprario, C., Tovee, M.J., & Furnham, A. (2006). Female physical attractiveness in Britain and Japan: A cross cultural study. European Journal of Personality, 20, 69-81.

Swami, V., et al. (2007). Male physical attractiveness in Britain and Greece: A cross cultural study. The Journal of Social Psychology, 147, 15-26.

Vaughan, G.M., & Hogg, M.A. (2005). Introduction to Social Psychology (4th ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Education Australia.

Walster, E., Aronson, V., Abrahams, D., & Rottmann, L. (1966). Importance of physical attractiveness in dating behaviour. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 508-516.

Hot or Not: A Social-Psychological Inquiry into Interpersonal Attraction and Attractiveness Perception.

Question- Why are some people attractive? Discuss in relation to social psychological theories and research
A multitude of variables influence the perception of attractiveness in romantic and sexual relationships. Propinquity, similarity, personality and affect, reciprocity, reinforcement and physical attractiveness have been discussed as influencing factors of interpersonal attraction. Further, this blog asserts that attraction is influenced by cultural and societal context, by history, time and generational influences and by innate evolutionary drives. An integrational model is proposed, whereby the author theorises that interpersonal attraction depends on many interacting models, theories and research reports. Concept maps, examples and numerous models complete the analysis.

Attractiveness and interpersonal attraction are defined as the allure, magnetism or liking between two or more people (Breckler, Olsen, & Wiggins, 2006). This blog will analyse why some people are considered attractive, specifically within a romantic and sexual context. It will discuss the concepts of propinquity, similarity and the interaction between personality/affect and attraction. Next, reciprocity, reinforcement and physical attractiveness will be assessed. Factors influencing the perception of attractiveness will be analysed including: cross cultural, trans-generational and evolutionary variables. Finally, this blog will propose an ‘Integrational Model’ of attractiveness, theorising that many interacting theories and research findings can provide a comprehensive explanation of why some people are considered attractive.


Propinquity is a potent catalyst of attraction. It is defined the nearness or proximity in physical or psychological space which creates the opportunity to meet another person (Vaughan & Hogg, 2005). Propinquity facilitates initial relationships and attraction creating familiarity and repeated exposure (Breckler et al., 2006).

Proximity Theory.
Close proximity to another includes a small functional distance and opportunity for continued interaction, which can significantly increase the likelihood of attraction (Sprecher, 1998). Housing research by Festinger, Schacter and Back (1950) found that people rated attraction, magnetism and friendship highest with those living on the same residential floor; rather than those living on other floors or distant buildings (Appendix A); this research evidence the potent effects of proximity on interpersonal attraction.

The Mere Exposure Effect.
The mere exposure effect is a theory explaining the tendency for people to come to like things simply because they see or encounter them repeatedly (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008). Research highlights that repeated exposure to an individual increases attraction and favourabilty. One study by Saegert, Swap, and Zajonk (1973) determined that mere exposure in both positive and negative contexts increased interpersonal attraction. Saegert et al. found that an increased frequency of stimuli enhanced liking and interpersonal attraction. Repeated exposure to another increases the perception of attractiveness (Vaughan & Hogg, 2005).

Similarity of attitudes, values, personality or physical attractiveness is one of the most important determinants of attraction (Sprecher, 1998).

Attitude Similarity Effect.
The attitude-similarity effect is the idea that people find others more attractive and likable the more similar they are in attitudes, beliefs and preferences; including opinions and cognitions about current events, social and political issues, religion, morality, music, literature and similar personalities (Breckler et al., 2006). Research by Lehr and Geher (2006) found that participants presented with potential mates with similar attitudes, judged them as more likable and attractive than dissimilar mates (Lehr & Geher). The attitude similarity effect is prime example of similarity and attractiveness.

Matching Hypothesis.
People who are evenly matched in physical appearance, social background, personality, socioeconomic status, interests and leisure activities are significantly more likely to be considered attractive by their similar counterpart (Joiner, 1994). Matching hypothesis specifically elucidates that people are attracted to others who are similar in physical attractiveness (Kalick & Hamilton III, 1986) (Appendix-B).

Similarity is important in attraction because it produces cognitive consistency, reinforcement through positive outcomes, reinforcement through attitude validation and the high probability of reciprocity because of the perceived similarities (Michener & DeLamater, 1999). Correspondingly, personality and affect are also important determinants of attraction.

Personality & Affect.
Numerous theories and research studies suggest that personality and affect are the most important determinants attraction (Sprecher, 1998). As the attitude similarity effect suggests, similar or complementary personalities are most attractive (Klohnen & Lou, 2003). Research by Sprecher displayed that a desirable personality and friendly, warm and kind disposition were the most important determinants of attraction.

Affect, a person’s emotional state, is a further psychosocial variable of attractiveness perception. Related to personality, a positive affect and cheerful disposition have a direct effect on interpersonal attraction (Byrne, 1997). Byrne and Clore’s (1970) Affect-Attraction model highlights the relationship between positive and negative affect and interpersonal attraction (Appendix-C). Humor is a further powerful predictor of attraction, helping to strengthen social bonds and increase liking (Johnson, 2003). The Laughter-Attraction model highlights the relationship between humor and attractiveness (Fraley & Aron, 2004) (Appendix-D).


Reciprocity Theory.
The reciprocity principle is the tendency in people to become more attracted to those whom they believe are attracted to them (Lehr & Geher, 2006); we like those who like us and dislike those who dislike us (Vaughan & Hogg, 2005).
Reciprocation of liking has a powerful effect on attraction in romantic relationships and friendships; and is an important factor in finding a mate attractive (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008).
A classic study by Dittes and Kelley (1956) researched student’s attraction levels when given written evaluations that were either positive or negative; results showed that students who believed they were liked were more attracted to the evaluator than those who believed they were disliked (Dittes & Kelley). Reciprocity is also influenced by the Gain-Loss Hypothesis (Appendix-E). Reciprocity is an important psychosocial factor in the perception of attractiveness. A further factor is reinforcement.

Reinforcement theory asserts that people tend to be attracted to those who reward or praise them; or are present when one receives rewards (Michener & DeLamater, 1999).

Reinforcement Affect Model.
Reinforcement affect model is a model of attraction which postulates that we like people who are around when we experience a positive feeling. Byrne and Clore’s (1970) reinforcement affect model (Appendix-F) draws on classical conditioning, with paired positive stimuli and responses increasing and reinforcing liking and attraction.

Social Exchange Theory.
An extension of the reinforcement model is the social exchange theory, which analyses the costs and benefits of interacting with another, especially within a sexual attraction realm (South, 1991). Research has highlighted that such reinforcement rewards include sex, money, attention, respect, praise, love and enjoyment (Sprecher, 1998). Reinforcement is a strong predictor of attraction as it is pleasing to receive praise, rewards and positive feedback (Sprecher).

Physical Attractiveness.
Physical attractiveness is the combination of tangible characteristics that are evaluated as beautiful or handsome (Baron, Byrne, & Branscombe, 2006). Good looks have been found to outweigh many other factors of attraction (Walster, Aronson, Abrahams, & Rottman, 1966). Physical attractiveness is a far more crucial attractiveness variable for women than men; as it denotes youth, fertility and health (Walster at al.). Physical attractiveness includes facial and bodily features.

Facial Features.
The structure of the face, facialmetrics, involves the measurement of a large number of facial features to determine the proportions and measurements of an attractive face. Research by Cunningham, Barbee, and Pike (1990) found that men prefer women with large eyes, a small nose and chin, prominent cheekbones, high eyebrows, large pupils and a large smile. Research has also shown that women with pout lips and an even skin tone are considered more attractive (Barber, 1998). Cunningham et al. found that females preferred men with prominent cheekbones, a large chin, a wide smile and eyes that did not deviate from the average (Appendix-G).

Averageness theory holds that people who look different from the norm are generally regarded as less attractive (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008) (Appendix-H). Langlois and Roggman (1990) assert that evolutionary pressures and natural selection generally favour average rather than extreme population features; and the influence of prototypes and cognitive schemas bias people toward average, prototypical faces. Facial averageness is influenced by biological, cognitive, and mere exposure psychosocial factors in the perception of attractiveness (Langlois & Roggman).

Facial symmetry is the equilibrium or mirrored proportion of the human face, which is a strong determinant of physical attractiveness (Mealey, Bridgstock, & Townsend, 1999). Facial symmetry has been found to be important in conveying information about gender, sexual maturity, immune quality and genotypic quality (Mealey et al.). Computer-generated symmetry research conducted by Grammer and Thornhill (1994) found significant positive effects for facial symmetry and attractiveness in both males and females. (Appendix-I).

Bodily Features.
Male and female body shape and weight are asserted as important in the judgement of why some people are considered attractive.
Body shape is an important component of physical attractiveness and sex appeal. Typically, men prefer the classic hourglass figure in a women (waist hip ratio of .70) as it signifies youthfulness, good health and fertility (Singh, 1993). The typically desired body shape for men is the ‘triangle’ consisting of a waist hip ratio of 1.0 and larger shoulders (Singh) (Appendix-J). The judgement of attractiveness and weight is, however, largely determined by cultural context, time period and innate factors.

Factors Influencing Attraction.
Attraction, specifically physical attraction, is significantly influenced by the context of culture, time period and innate evolutionary factors. Research on female physical attractiveness was conducted by Swami, Caprario, Tovee, and Furnham (2006), which found that Japanese men preferred images of women with significantly lower Body-Mass-Indexes and were significantly more reliant on body shape than British participants. Additionally, research on male physical attractiveness across British and Greek participants asserts that Greek women show a significantly greater preference for a low waist-to-chest ratio and a smaller overall body weight than did British women (Swami et al. 2007). Cross cultural variances in attraction are explained through historical, societal, gender-role and socioeconomic contexts. The perception of why people are attractive is a complex and uncertain concept that is influenced by culture and time (Carr, 2003).

Attractiveness perception of females has also evolved through generations (Barber, 1998). Appendix-K provides a trans-generational analysis of attractiveness. The perception of attractiveness is also influenced by innate biological and evolutionary drives. Men are attracted to women who have biological markers of fertility, health, youth, high estrogen levels and good child bearing ability. Women are attracted to men who show signs of power, virility, aggression and wealth to supply resources (Gangestad & Scheyd, 2005).

Integrational Model.
A multitude of factors determine why some people are considered attractive. This blog hypothesises an ‘integrational model’ illustrating propinquity, similarity, personality and affect, reciprocity, reinforcement and physical attractiveness are important psychosocial variables in the perception of attractiveness. Integrational model suggests that attraction relies on the combination and interaction of psychosocial variables and asserts that these variables are influenced by factors such as culture, time and innate evolutionary drives (Appendix-L).

In conclusion, many psychosocial variables determine the perception of interpersonal attraction (Concept Map-A) yet due to space restrictions, I have included what I believe are the most formative and integral components in attraction including: propinquity, similarity, personality and affect, reciprocity, reinforcement, physical attractiveness and factors influencing attractiveness perception (Concept Map-B). This blog has highlighted and discussed these variables through analysis of theories, models and research evidence. Interpersonal attraction and the perception of attractiveness is a complex construct, with myriad psychosocial determinants.

1547 words excluding references, headings, citations and appendices.
For information on theory, research, written expression and online engagement please see: Self Assessment.

For Reference List : Please Visit Reference List

Self Assessment


* I have attempted to incorporate a breadth and depth of theories and models.

* I have analysed theories and models and included many of the models in the appendix. I have also formulated my own ‘Integrational Model’.

* I have included many theories and models of ‘attractiveness’ including Proximity theory, mere exposure effect, attitude similarity effect, matching hypothesis, reciprocity theory, reinforcement affect model, social exchange theory, and averageness theory.


* I have attempted to incorporate a breadth and depth of research studies.

* I have integrated theory and research- detailing information about theories and evidencing them with appropriate research and references.

* I have an extensive reference list of 26 main references- evidencing a multitude of research reports and academic journals

* I researched the topic extensively- this can be seen with my clear evolution of thinking, extensive reference list and concept map A- showing a great understanding of the entire field of attractiveness.

Written Expression

* It is my belief that my blog has fluently expressed and analysed the ‘Attractiveness’ question.

* I believe that I have answered the question. Providing information on why some people are considered attractive and factual analysis of theories, models, and research studies.

* I have attempted to publish a smooth, easy to follow blog. I have an abstract, introduction which clearly highlights the direction of my blog, and headings throughout the blog. I have also given a definitive conclusion to my blog.

* Readability Analysis- I Received a Gunning Fog Index of: 17.21 I Received a Flesch Reading Ease of: 17.51

I understand that this is not as ‘desirable’ as hoped- yet I believe that my writing is academic yet simple and comprehensible. I have also formatted my blog to be highly readable.

Other Markers of Readability-
* I have included a meaningful, descriptive essay title
* I have included an abstract
* I have included subheadings
* I have included many figures to give a greater breadth of knowledge to my blog.
* I have included images and multimedia
* I have included appendices.
* Use of Examples- I have used copious amounts of examples- I have used pictures of well known celebrities that typify aspects of my blog. I have used models and diagrams to evidence and example many of the theories and research findings.
* I have included many Appendices to further explain, clarify or illustrate my findings.
* APA style- I have conformed to the APA standards throughout my blog- In text citations and referencing have been strictly adhered to.

Online Engagement

* It is my belief that I have had a high online engagement for blog 2.

* I chose my topic very early in the term, showing enthusiasm and preparedness.
* I have published many blogs throughout the term.
* I Have sought and gathered meaningful comments throughout the term. I have commented on the following peoples blogs:
-Beck’s Blog
-Bec’s Blog
-Bethany’s Blog
-Emma’s Blog
-Emily’s Blog
-Erin’s Blog
-Graham’s Blog
-Josie’s Blog
-Kim’s Blog
-Luke’s Blog
-Mike’s Blog
-Mrs Freud’s Blog

* In turn, I have received over 36 comments on my blog from other students and James. Which has assisted in the depth of my knowledge

* I have meaningfully replied to several of my comments- clarifying points, discussing ideas and assisting other students with blogging issues.

* I have published 16 bloggings- each time I have posted my essay have evolved and grown in depth and breadth. I have written meaningful insights, academic findings and published a draft introduction to get feedback on the progress and direction of my blog.

* I have read and noted many of my comments- and adapted my blog accordingly.

* I have certainly made effective use of multimedia- images, embedded video- I have posted a series of attractiveness videos, have posted the dove evolution of beauty campaign and have provided many photo’s to evidence the research that I have detailed.

* I Have received 3 * (Stars) on my blog which highlights that my blog has been active, regular and that I have had a clear evolution of thinking in weeks 8-15.

* I believe my online engagement to be extremely high. I have made MANY comments, suggested academic journals to other students, collaborated with students who are doing similar questions. I have made MANY blog postings and have effectively utilised the entire blog format- using video, pictures, polls etc.

I believe that I deserve at least a distinction + for my online engagement. I have been very active, enthusiastic and open throughout the semester.

Overall I believe that I have produced a meaningful, insightful and deep blog. I have detailed and discussed many theories, models and research studies. I have done a great deal of research on the topic and consider myself to be very knowledgeable on the entire ‘attractiveness’ topic. I am disappointed that I could not have written 3000 words, because I found so much valuable research and theory to include.

I have written a clear, concise, readable blog and have engaged, evolved and been enriched throughout the term. I believe that I deserve to do well, as I have put an enormous amount of effort into my blog.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Concept Map A

Concept Map A indentities all psychosocial variables related to attractiveness perception.

It is included to evidence a depth and breadth of research and insight into the attractiveness topic.

Concept Map B

Concept Map B identifies all psychosocial variables in the Attractiveness

Appendix A: Propinquity

Some people are considered as attractive because they are easy to access, are exposed to the other frequently and have high probability of continued interaction.

Festinger, Schacter, & Back (1950) studied propinquity in apartments and determined that those closest were more likely to be attracted or liked.

Propinquity permits attraction because of familiarity, availability and expectation of continued interaction (Vaughan & Hogg, 2005).

The Festinger physical proximity experiment found those in apartments 1 and 6 interacted frequently; 5 and 10; and those next door to eachother.


Festinger, L., Schachter, S., & Back, K. (1950). Social pressures in informal groups: A study of human factors in housing. New York: Harper.

Vaughan, G.M., & Hogg, M.A. (2005). Introduction to Social Psychology (4th ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Education Australia.

Appendix B: Matching Hypothesis

We tend to like those similar to ourselves: in physical appearance, social background, personality, socioeconomic status, interests and leisure activities.

We are more likely to be attracted to, and stay attracted to, those who match us in many domains (Joiner, 1994).

An example of a matched couple and mismatched couple follow.

Matched Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi- Similar age, physical appearance, race, interests (tennis).

Mismatched- Heidi Klum and Seal- Very different attractiveness levels (Heidi is a Victoria Secret Model), different race, 10 years age difference.

Joiner, T.E. Jr. (1994). The interplay of similarity and self-verification in relationship formation. Social Behavior and Personality, 22, 195-200.