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Chapter 3

  1. A major determinant of who we end up being attracted to is propinquity, or sheer closeness of contact with potential targets of attraction. To a remarkable extent, the people one knows, and likes, and even loves, are those with whom one comes in contact most frequently in neighborhoods, on the job, and in recreational settings.

  2. Three reasons for the power of propinquity are: (a) sheer availability: one has to come into contact with others to have a chance to know and like them, (b) anticipation of interaction: people tend to put their best foot forward for those they know they will see again, and (c) the mere exposure effect: simply encountering a person or object, even under negative circumstances, makes us like the target more.

  3. A second major source of attraction is similarity. Engaged couples are more similar to one another than are randomly paired men and women. Studies using the bogus stranger paradigm invariably find that people like individuals who resemble them more than individuals who do not. There is scant evidence that "opposites attract."

  4. Four reasons for the effect of similarity on attraction are: (a) similar others validate our beliefs and values, (b) similarity facilitates smooth interactions, (c) we expect similar others to like us (which is rewarding), and (d) similar others have qualities we like.

  5. Physical attractiveness is another major source of attraction. Physically attractive people are much more popular with the opposite sex. Attractive peo- ple are given higher grades for their work. People who are physically attractive earn more money in the workplace, and they even receive lower sentences for crimes. In short, they benefit from a halo effect, in that they are believed to have many positive qualities that go beyond their physical appearance.

  6. Attractiveness has an impact even in infancy and childhood: attractive infants receive more attention from their mothers, and attractive children are believed to be more intelligent by their teachers. People think a transgression by a child is less serious if the child is attractive. Moreover, even threemonth- olds will look longer at an attractive face than at an unattractive one.

  7. Gender is an important variable when it comes to attractiveness, with physical appearance affecting the lives of women more than men. Women deemed unattractive at work suffer worse outcomes than men who are considered unattractive.

  8. Physical attractiveness has such impact because: (a) it has immediacy—you see it before any other virtues or faults, (b) the attractiveness of one's friends and partner affects one's prestige, and (c) biology plays a role—that is, we are wired to appreciate some kinds of physical appearance more than others.

  9. Evolutionary psychologists argue that our biology prompts an attraction to features that signify reproductive fitness—that is, the capacity to perpetuate our genes in future generations if we were to mate and have children with a person who possesses those features. These include physical characteristics that signal vitality, fertility, and likely reproductive success.

  10. Evolutionary psychologists also claim that there are biologically based differences between men and women in the importance placed on attractiveness and in the determinants of attractiveness.

  11. In species in which parental investment is greater for the female, the males must compete vigorously among themselves (intrasex competition) for access to choosy females. The males also must compete for the females' attention (intersex attraction) and are typically the louder and gaudier of the species.

  12. In the human species, say the evolutionary psychologists, differential parental investment on the part of men and women leads women to prefer fewer sexual partners than men. It leads men to prefer women whose physical appearance gives the impression that they will be fertile—for example, features such as smooth skin and a waist that is narrow in relation to hips. Women are attracted to men who can be expected to provide for them and for their children—men who are strong, industrious, and have social status.

  13. Though much evidence from the animal kingdom and from the study of humans supports the hypotheses of the evolutionists, most of the human findings can be explained without resort to an evolutionary explanation. The strongest support for the evolutionary approach to attractiveness in humans comes from studies showing that women increase their preference for attractive (or at least symmetrical) and masculine men during the ovulatory phase of their menstrual cycles, when they have a relatively higher probability of conceiving.

  14. The notion of reward can explain most of the reasons we like people—we tend to like those who provide us with the greatest rewards (broadly construed).

  15. Another way to understand attraction is in terms of social exchange. This theory holds that people pursue those interactions that provide the most favorable difference between rewards and costs.