Explanations on Interpersonal Attraction

The level of attraction one feels for another person shapes the nature of the relationship as either romantic or platonic. The intensity of the relationship is dependent on a number of factors which differs depending on the disposition of the connection (Todeschi, 1999). There is a common theme that underlies almost all the theories of interpersonal attraction and that is reinforcement. This principle has lately been stated to be the most basic notion in the understanding of psychology and in simple terms it states that; behaviours are usually followed by some desirable consequences which are repeated more often. When this principle of reinforcement is applied in interpersonal attraction, it usually applies that, when one finds something rewarding in another person with whom they are just having a formal relationship, one seems to desire further interaction with that person. The theories are based on the notion that individuals are normally drawn to get into relationship which they can find rewarding while avoiding those that are not (Miedaner, 2008). A range of models and theories are put forward to understand the complexities of interpersonal attraction. They are:

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Reinforcement-effect model

The theory put forward suggestions that people will get attracted not just to those that reward them but to those who associates to them with rewards. This is to mean that a person can learn to love others due to the connections which they have that are positive to the individual (Miller, 2009). This implies that, it’s possible to be able to like a person not so mostly because of that person only but because of the positive consequences that comes with that person being merely part of the rewarding situation. This is to mean that there are positive feelings that are directed toward the experience itself that get directed to another person. The contrary is true that, a person will tend to be disliked if they are associated with something that is unpleasant.  (Drescher, 1979)

Recent research on interpersonal attractions

Social exchange theory suggests that people have the tendency of evaluating their social dispositions. A person will be lead into comparing the costs and the benefits of getting into a relationship or evaluate whether to continue in a relationship. One is able to evaluate various situations with regard to what he or she considers socially approved and acceptable in the society.  (Miedaner, 2008)

Equity theory looks more to be an extension of the social theory in that  , it suggests that both parties involved in a relationship should take into account how the cost and benefits of their relationship. (Brothers, 1994) It says that, when both parties are able to have a fair ratio of their costs to benefits from a relationship, they are more likely to have a more promoted level of attraction. The other side of the story becomes true in that, when one party feels that the efforts, times and resources that are being employed are justified, but the other party does not feel the same, the relationship is more likely to be in jeopardy. (Berscheid, 1978)       

Evolutionary theory states that interpersonal attraction occurs mostly to someone who is perceived to have physical features that indicate that they are fertile. According to this theory, the only major reason for getting attracted in another person is the need for reproduction and one feels that, the other party has the capability of enhancing the passage of their genes to the next generation.  There are some group who criticize the theory for the reason that, it does not cover same sex attraction or those couples who do not want to have children. There are also some evolutionary explanations as to why fertility is of greater importance to men than to women. According to this theory, women places more emphasis on the ability of men providing resources and family protection.

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The theory suggests that, the resources are important in ensuring the well upbringing of the woman’s off springs. From this theory, the physical features are more likely to suggest to one of the potentiality of the other mate. The tendencies of people who have facial symmetry as being more attractive than those with less symmetrical faces can serves as an example of how people perceive the physical appearance. It has been suggested that, people are also attracted to those with faces similar to theirs.


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