Interpersonal attraction is the attraction between people which leads to friendships and romantic relationships. The study of interpersonal attraction is a major area of study in social psychology. Interpersonal attraction will be the focus of this coursework. Many psychologists have looked at the link between attraction and formation of relationships, and this has brought various theories to explain interpersonal attraction, such as the filter model and the matching hypothesis.
The filter model (Kerckhoff and Davis 1962) proposes that people rely on a number of social and personal factors to filter potential relationships from the ‘fields of eligibles’ (i.e. all those with whom we may potentially form a relationship with). However, the model of interpersonal attraction that I will be focusing on is the matching hypothesis. The matching hypothesis (Walster et al 1966) states that people are attracted to others who have a similar level of physical attractiveness to themselves. Furthermore, we are likely to seek out people similar to ourselves in other attributes, such as intelligence, athleticism, etc. However rejection interferes with the process of selection. People, who are suffering from low self-esteem, will most likely target someone who is less likely to reject them. By contrast, people with high self-esteem are more likely to target people who they may otherwise consider as being ‘out of their league’, as may believe that no one will reject them.
Many psychologists have investigated the matching hypothesis. Murstein investigated the matching hypothesis by comparing photographs of ‘steady or engaged’ couples with random couples. The real couples were judged as more similar in physical attractiveness than the random pairs. Murstein concluded from his findings that individuals with equal market value for physical attractiveness are more likely to associate in an intimate relationship such as engagement.