The Psychology Behind Attraction
Life Style

The Psychology Behind Attraction

The Psychology Behind Attraction

We are all familiar with the word ‘Attraction’. The very term attraction suggests a powerful force that draws individuals together and forms the basis of romantic and interpersonal relationships. It is natural for all of us to feel attraction towards someone or something? What would be the factor that attracts you to someone else? Let’s see what the psychology behind it is.

Read: The Psychology Behind Love and Romance

Types of attraction

The three types of attraction according to attraction theory by psychologist, Samuel Frenning are;

Physical attraction: The phenomenon of people being attracted to another person based on their physical appearance. For example, some individuals are drawn to celebrities because they are often handsome and attractive.

Social attraction: A person is drawn to another person because of their personality. For example, a helpful counsellor in a community will be respected and loved by community members.

Task attraction: It occurs when one person is drawn to another based on their abilities. For example, a highly talented student in a college is likely to be welcomed by their peers.

Factors in interpersonal attraction
1. Proximity

The majority of relationships begin with physical closeness, or being close to or accessible to another person. Being close to someone makes eye contact and communication effortless. When two people sit next to each other, they learn about their clothing preferences, voice and accent, when and how they laugh, and so on. For example, think of your school friends, where pupils are often assigned classroom seats by your teacher, so you tend to get to know best those who sit near you.

The Proximity effect describes the formation of relationships between organisms that are close to one another. Let us see how to apply this effect. If you want to meet people and form friendships, try to secure a living space, work space that allows you to meet as many individuals as possible. As a result, you can harness the power of the situation by purposefully altering the place you visit and then enjoying the social rewards of influence. Also, proximity doesn’t always work that way. It could also lead to disliking the person – an effect known as environment spoiling.

2. Familiarity

Increased exposure to someone often amplifies prior feelings (positive and negative feelings). In the absence of any prejudgement, frequent interaction usually boosts the favourable effect. This could be due to mere exposure increasing another’s familiarity. Familiar faces are comforting and predictable after superficial contact with the person. Thus, reducing uncertainty and anxiety while interacting with others. How can we apply the familiarity effect in our own life?

Read: Love Bombing: the Dark Side of Excessive Affection in Relationships

If you want an appealing stranger to like you, make yourself familiar somehow. Don’t ‘stalk’ him or her, rather if you get a chance express recognition by making eye contact and if the other person returns eye contact then smile. If you begin to talk, keep it pleasant, and if possible be the first one to end the conversation, and so positively( e.g., “ I hope to see you again”). Familiarity is not sufficient for actual connection, but it is an important first step towards intimacy. It also boosts satisfaction and acceptance paving the path for genuine interaction and communication.

Read: I love you but I can’t Commit

3. Similarity

Frequent contact also increases similarity. For example, suppose you visit a library, a movie, and a restaurant where all you meet is the same person. By this time, you are making the assumption that you and the stranger have several things in common, such as courses, restaurant preferences, and taste in movies.

Physical Attractiveness

How do you know if you want to pursue a relationship after you’ve made contact with someone? Aside from words and behaviour, most individuals judge one another based on their physical appearance. This dependence on physical appearance could be a manifestation of the primacy effect, which is the tendency to be particularly impacted by information presented initially. It is the physical appearance you get as earlier information from another person.


In a computer-match study conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota, findings supported physical attractiveness as a human preference for dating other than conversational skills, similarity, and self-esteem of the other person. Men seem to value looks more than women (Feingold, 1990).

Read: love theories in psychology

Dion, Berscheid, and Walster (1972) found that attractive people are expected purely on the basis of their looks, to be better people: sensitive, sexually responsive, interesting, and sociable. And three decades later a meta-analysis of this study found that attractive people are judged more positively than unattractive people, such common assumptions about looks make up the physical attractiveness stereotype. In contrast, ample research shows that despite expectations, for virtually every quality and virtue measured, better-looking people are no better or worse than people of average looks (Miller & Perlman, 2009).

Consider some celebrities and name a few that you find particularly physically attractive. Then, on a scale of 1(very unattractive) to 10( very attractive), rate each celebrity. Now, how would you rate yourself, and how do you feel if you rated yourself low in comparison to them? It might be disheartening for many of us to realise that our appearance does not always correspond to that of the people we find attractive.

In a study by Folkes (1982), he found that the person who prefers a long-term partner who is similar to oneself in looks and other qualities(matching phenomenon), decreases the likelihood of rejection or disappointment. Further, the looks and qualities people find attractive differ across cultures around the world.

Read: True Meanings of unconditional love


As the famous APJ Abdul Kalam said, “I am not handsome but I can give my hand to someone who needs help”, Beauty is needed in the heart, and not the face. If you believe you lack physical attractiveness, discover and emphasise your other outstanding traits. Make them apparent so that they can be acted upon. Showcase your goodness, wit, charity, sense of humour, and so forth.

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