Why does the attraction between people exist?

Why does the attraction between people exist?

Why does the attraction between people exist? This is one of the questions we all asked ourselves. Affect research is much more numerous than other topics.

Perhaps this is because it has always been easier for researchers. It is easier to produce these feelings among strangers than to promote and observe romantic relationships over long periods of time.

Elizabeth Barrtt Browning, a nineteenth-century poet, wrote, "How much do I love you, let me tell you how much?" The author thus expressed feelings on a central theme of most people's lives.This theme has become a very important topic of research for social psychologists: love and affect.

Factors Influencing Attraction Between People

Traditional studies have provided a wealth of knowledge about the factors that initially attract two people. The factors we will discuss below are pmong the most important ones taken into account by social psychologists.


If you live in a home or apartment, consider the friendships you created when you moved into that place.Those who live closest to you are probably your best friends.

This is one of the surest conclusions of the literature on attraction between people. Indeed, as we can easily verify, theproximity generates affection (Festinger, Schachter and Back, 1950).

Simple exhibition

Repeated exposure to a person is usually sufficient to generate attraction. It is interesting to know that repeated exposure to a stimulus (to a person, an image, a record or anything) makes the stimulus almost always pleasant (Zajonc, 1968).

The process of familiarization with a stimulus can elicit positive feelings. These feelings that generate familiarity are then transferred to the stimulus itself. There are exceptions, however.

When the initial interactions are extremely negative, therepeated exposure is unlikely to make a person more pleasant. On the contrary, the more we are exposed to this person, the more it displeases us.


Popular wisdom speaks of two people who are made "for each other". It also indicates that opposites are attracting. Social psychologists have reached a clear verdict about these two statements.

We tend to like those who are like us.Finding that the attitudes, values ​​or traits of others are similar to ours promotes the emergence of affect. On the other hand, the more they look like us, the more attractive they seem to us (Byrne, 1969).

One of the reasons why similarity increases the probability of interpersonal attraction is thatwe assume that people who have similar attitudes evaluate us positively.Since there is a strong effect of reciprocity of affect, knowing that someone positively evaluates us will encourage us to pay attention to that person.

Need for complementarity

We all know exceptions to the rule that similarity is related to attraction between people.There are couples who seem to have total differences of personality, interests and attitudes.However, the people who constitute them are completely captivated by each other.

Social psychologists explain that there are cases where some people are attracted to others because of the needs that they satisfy. According to this reasoning,we can be attracted to people who meet the most of our needs.

So,a dominant person can look for someone to submit. And a submissive person may be looking for a dominant person. Although their differences lead them to believe that they are incompatible, by establishing a relationship, they satisfy the complementary needs of each other.

Physical attractiveness

The equation "beauty equals well" is indisputable for most people.People who are physically attractive are more popular than those that are not if all other factors are identical.

This discovery contradicts the values ​​that most people claim to possess. itnevertheless seems to be true even during childhood. And this criterion is maintained until adulthood.

Indeed,physical attractiveness may be the most important element for generate an initial condition during student appointments. However, his influence eventually diminishes when people know each other better.

Although physical attractiveness offers many benefits, it presentsalso a negative aspect. If male physical beauty produces a better impression in professional competition situations, it can work against women tending to executive positions.

The cause of this phenomenon is a common stereotype (though unfounded) suggesting that successful and attractive women get their jobs because of their appearance.

Physical attractiveness is nevertheless an advantage in social interactions.This is a very powerful factor in determining who attracts people and what kind of social life they lead.

The factors we have just seen are not the only ones that influence the attraction between people. In a study of almost 40,000 people, the most valued qualities of a friend wereability to keep secrets, loyalty, caring and affection, followed closely by support, openness and a sense of humor.

The law of attraction, the magic of attracting what we need

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