The Variables of Attraction – Social Psychology

Ah, the mysteries of love.

Or... they would be mysteries if there wasn't a ton of research on why people tend to be more attracted to each other, the different types of love, and reasons for conflict and unhappy relationships.

If you're looking for highly in-depth explanations then feel free to use our recommendations here. Otherwise here's what we'll cover:

  • The Propinquity Effect
  • The Mere Exposure Effect
  • The Triarchic Theory of Love
  • Adult Theory of Attachment

The Propinquity Effect

Think of propinquity as proximity's close cousin.

Proximity is purely about the distance, while propinquity is about frequency of seeing and interacting with someone.

Just as we are more likely to get into a relationship with a close proximity, the propinquity effect says we are more likely to get into a relationship with someone we see and interact with often.

Simple, right?

The mere exposure effect is similar to this. Basically, the more you see something the more likely you are to like it (as long as it didn't cause a strong negative reaction the first time you saw it.)

The Triarchic Theory of Love

This theory states that there are 3 things that effect a relationship:

  • Intimacy
  • Passion
  • Committment

Depending on the level of each the type of relationship you're in will change.

High passion, high intimacy, and low commitment will lead to a romantic relationship (typical college relationship), while low passion, high intimacy, and high commitment will lead to a companionate love (think a happy, old couple)

Adult Theory of Attachment

This theory says that during your infancy you developed behaviors that affects your relationships throughout your entire life. You created a "model" of a good relationship and followed that model.

There are 3 types of attachments:

  • Secure - the healthy style. It's easy for you to get close to others and you don't get too worried about them leaving and don't shut yourself off.
  • Avoidant - you don't get as close to others and are much more likely to leave avoid opening up.
  • Anxious/Ambivalent - You want to be much closer to others than is physically possible or healthy. You are constantly worried your partners will leave you.

However, with work these can be changed. Just because you're not "secure" doesn't mean you can't change your behaviors and eventually change. 

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