When meeting a person for the first time, physical appearance is more or less all we have to go on. From there, we may form a mental picture of who that person is, what their wants, beliefs and aspirations are, without hearing them speak a single word. We fill in the blanks to get a good idea of who we’re dealing with, even if what we’ve filled in couldn’t be farther from the truth. One may be attracted to another based on physical appearance or they could be totally turned off. After the first impression and physical observation, however, what else influences the attraction of another?
Research shows that there is more to attraction than what is seen on the physical surface, suggesting that it depends on a combination of physical proximity (Priest & Sawyer, 1967), attitude similarity (Insko, Thompson, Stroebe, Shaud, Pinner, & Layton, 1971), social status (Singh, Yeo, Lin, & Tan, 2007), and even narcism ( English & Reader, 1947). All of these factors are important, but the bulk of research zeros in on attitude similarity and its effects on attraction.
The Implied evaluation and the similarity-attraction effect experiment carried out in 1971 set the stage for many socio-psychological studies to come (Insko, Thompson, Stroebe, Shaud, Pinner, & Layton, 1971, p. 297-308). Insko, Thompson, Stroebe, Shaud, Pinner, and Layton (1971) proposed that similarity, along with implied evaluation, largely influences attraction (p. 306-307). Accordingly, implied evaluation meaning the effect of positive, neutral, or negative information provided to the participants about the person they are judging. For example, noting that those being observed have a high IQ, low IQ, or no information whatsoever to see if this information affects how well a participant likes another. Subjects in Insko’s, Thompson’s, Stroebe’s, Shaud’s, Pinner’s, and Layton’s showed that the more characteristics and opinions they had in common with the person and the more the person observed was painted in a positive light, the more they liked who they were judging (Insko, Thompson, Stroebe, Shaud, Pinner, & Layton, 1971, p. 297).
The researchers in the Implied evaluation and the similarity-attraction effect study combined 2 studies carried out by Elliot Aronson and Philip Worchel (1966) and Donn Byrne, Oliver London, and Keith Reeves (1968). Though similar, these studies produced different results. Aronson and Worchel, unlike Insko, Thompson, Stroebe, Shaud, Pinner, had confederates and participants physically interact instead of taking a survey. In their results, similarity wasn’t considered significant but implied evaluation was and in the Byrne, London, Reeves, similarity and implied evaluation were both overwhelmingly significant. The differences in these two studies ended up being the measurement of similarity. Knowing this, Insko, Thompson, Stroebe, Shaud, Pinner, and Layton set out to improve these 2 previous studies by hypothesizing that there is an interaction between...