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Physical Attractiveness Is Not Everything Essay

1344 words - 6 pages

There is a misconception in society today that suggests that physical attractiveness is everything. It is the notion that one must be outwardly attractive in order to attract a partner. It is a widely circulated myth that is perpetuated by the media. Flawless models show off the latest fashion. Television stars caked in makeup display their wrinkle-less faces. Women’s magazines tell people how to lose weight and become desirable. The aim of this essay is to disprove the idea that aesthetic perfection is necessary to be successful in love by discussing three non-physical elements of interpersonal attraction: reciprocity of romantic attraction, proximity and familiarity, and attitudinal ...view middle of the document...

Many of the participants stated that they learned their partner had a romantic interest in them before they returned those feelings. Reciprocity played a larger role in the memories of the participants than any other variable, such as attractiveness and appealing personality. Other studies have confirmed that the indication of reciprocal liking is essential for the declaration of romantic interest for many people. As many as 97% of men, when asked, were not willing to ask out a desirable woman who had not indicated her interest in him (Eastwick & Finkel, 2009, p. 1334). These results underline the notion that reciprocity is a strong influence when it comes to romantic attraction and the initiation of a romantic relationship.

Proximity is another important element necessary for interpersonal attraction. It predicts liking, as people tend to encounter others in close proximity more often, therefore increasing familiarity between two persons. This is why the majority of people have dated and married people that lived close to them or worked with them. There are various explanations as to why familiarity predicts attraction. Firstly, it involves classical conditioning. As most social experiences are positive, or at the very least non-aversive, people paired with these positive experiences are thought of in a positive light as well. Additionally, evolutionary reasons could be at play. New and unpredictable stimuli tend to create uncertainty and wariness as a defence mechanism, however if the stimuli is recognised as not unpleasant, then those feelings of uncertainty diminish (Reis, et al., 2011, p. 557). Various studies have confirmed the importance of proximity and its impact on perceived physical attractiveness. For instance, classmates in an archaeology course were tasked with rating each other’s attractiveness at the beginning of the course and again after six weeks. One girl who was thought of as lazy and uncooperative and was disliked by her fellow classmates had her mean attractiveness score decrease from 5.07 to 4.14. Meanwhile, a girl who worked diligently and was well liked by her peers saw her mean score increase from 3.25 to 7.00. Other studies have seen largely the same outcomes. The results clearly show the importance of proximity on the formation of relationships. They indicate that judgments of physical attractiveness are influenced by factors such as familiarity, respect, liking, and effort (Kniffin & Wilson, 2004, p. 98). Berscheid and Regan (as cited in Reis, et al., 2011, p. 557) state that “(the) familiarity principle of attraction is perhaps the most basic of the general principles of attraction”.

The similarity effect is a fundamental aspect of romantic attraction which has long been demonstrated to play a major role in judgments of attractiveness in both field and experimental studies. The effect has been evidenced using a variety of conditions, including attitudes and attractiveness (Michinov & Michinov, 2011, p. 754). A...

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