Tag Archives: Attraction

Friends and Facebook: Online social behavior- not that different from the real world?

By Erica Zaiser

Continuing with my previous post about Facebook, TIME recently reported on another study using the social networking site. According to the article, researchers in Denver wanted to understand why people “defriend” others in Facebook and what types of behaviours are likely to lead to a break in the online friendship. Unsurprisingly, they found that things are pretty similar in an online social network to a real-life social network. People defriend others much for the same reasons they end real world friendships. People who go on an on about a subject on Facebook were most likely to get defriended followed by people who talk about politics or religion and people who post racist or offensive comments.

As Facebook has grown in popularity so has interest in it as an area of research for social psychologists. Another study looking at Facebook found a relationship between number of friends and impressions about a persons attractiveness and popularity. Generally more friends made participants in the study believe the person was more attractive and popular, but only to a point. When the number of friends became very large (more than 300) people then began to doubt the users popularity and rated the user as being almost as unattractive as those who had very few friends. According to the research, people began to doubt that people had accrued their large number of friends simply because they were extroverted and instead may be making assumptions that the profile owner added friends for other reasons (like they are actually desperate for friends and are just adding whomever they can to look popular).

Facebook and other online  social mediums are interesting to look at for psychologists because its both possible to study unique social phenomenon in the online world but also because behaviours online may help researchers understand behaviours offline. Perhaps in real life, people who are seen as “too social” are sometimes viewed as negatively as people who have just a few friends.

Read more: Too much of a good thing? The relationship between number of friends and interpersonal impressions on Facebook

CNN on Long and ParrisRead more: TIME article: How to lose Facebook friends the fastest.

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Reasons for love

By Kevin R. Betts

In a recent CNN article, columnist Stephanie Dolgoff attempted to describe the reasons why she had fallen in (and out) of love with each of her intimate partners since the age of sixteen. For me, the most interesting part of this article was that the author was able to identify these reasons. It seems that many people think that love is something that just happens. Can one have reasons for love? Should one have reasons for love?

Although many laypersons may be unaware of the reasons they fell in love with their past and present partners, reasons do exist. Robert Solomon attempted to capture some of these reasons in a 2002 article entitled, “Reasons for Love” (I borrowed the title). One unsurprising reason is attraction. Although looks in and of themselves may not sustain love over time, they produce a willingness to consider the possibility of being in love with another. Rationalization may also lead to love. When we consider the possibility of falling in love, we may justify the positive emotions we experience with our beloved with reasons for those emotions. These reasons may or may not be accurate; rather, it is the perception that reasons exist that matters. Love in and of itself may also be a reason for love. Solomon (2002) describes a common movie scene in which the protagonist makes a list with two columns. In the left column, he writes down all the reasons to leave his lover. In the right column, he writes, “I love her!” Simply feeling that one is in love may be reason to continue loving someone. One may also fall in love because of properties of the beloved. Properties may include things like attractiveness as described above, but they may also include things like a sense of humor, wit, or charm. Or more commonly, some combination of features may lead to love.

In this brief post, I only covered a subset of the reasons for love identified by Solomon (2002). What is interesting to me is not the specific reasons why love comes to fruition, but rather that reasons exist. For those of you in serious relationships, why do you love your partner? Can you identify the reasons for your love or do you “just know” you love them?

Read more:

Love lessons from bad breakups (CNN)

Solomon, R.C. (2002). Reasons for love. Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior, 32, 1-28.

View other posts by Kevin R. Betts

Dating in the Dark: A Love Reaction?

727px-1805-courtship-caricatureA new reality series is trying to answer a question that has plagued social psychologists for decades: Do looks matter in love? Dating in the Dark, which puts a unique twist on dating that only a reality program could, features single men and women who are brought together in a dark room to date. At the end of the episode, the couples are finally allowed to see each other in the light of day and decide whether they wish to pursue a relationship.

From an empirical standpoint, both men and women report that physical attractiveness is important in a romantic partner, though men seem to value it more. However, recent research indicates that while sex differences may exist for perceived importance of physical attractiveness, people might actually overestimate its impact. Finkel and Eastwick (2008) have found that men and women are equal in the degree to which physical attractiveness influences romantic interest in speed-dating. Moreover, for both men and women, people who reported physical attractiveness as important were no more likely than others to pursue relationships with individuals they rated as attractive.

While Dating in the Dark falls well short of an empirical test for understanding the importance of physical attractiveness, it nonetheless provides an entertaining way for us to observe the extent to which it affects human behavior. The show airs Monday nights on ABC.

Dating in the Dark Dating in the Dark

Speed-Dating Speed-Dating (Finkel & Eastwick, 2008)