Romantic Attraction

How do we get "the hots" for someone?

"Footsie" study (Wegner et al., 1994)

"Love will find you, even if you are trying to hide from it. I been trying to hide from it since I was five, but the girls keep finding me." Dave, age 8

Geographically separated married couples break up (Rindfuss & Stephan, 1990)

"One of the people has freckles and so he finds somebody else who has freckles too." Andrew, age 6

Mere exposure effect study (Saegert et al., 1973)

"No one is sure why love happens, but I heard it has something to do with how you smell…" Mae, age 9

The shaky bridge study (Dutton & Aron, 1974)

But what about how we LOOK???

"It isn't always just how you look. Look at me. I'm handsome like anything and I haven't got anybody to marry me yet." Brian, age 7

Top 3 traits for romantic partners:

  1. Mutual attraction -- love
  2. Dependable character
  3. Emotional stability & maturity

But…actions may speak louder than words…

"If you want to be loved by somebody who isn't already in your family, it doesn't hurt to be beautiful." Anita, age 8.

Dance study -- chose attractive partners (Walster et al., 1976)


Why is beauty so attractive?

"Don't do things like have smelly, green sneakers. You might get attention, but attention ain't the same thing as love." Alonzo, age 9

Beauty rubs off -- people gain status when seen with someone attractive (Sigall & Landy, 1973)

What is beautiful is good, but they aren't all THAT!

"Beauty is skin deep. But how rich you are can last a long time." Christine, age 9

What is good is also beautiful -- attractiveness increases by being a good person