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Af¬liation and Intimacy
Although each of us can endure and even value periods of solitude, for most of us
extended solitude is aversive. After a time, we begin to crave the company of others.
People have a need for af¬liation, a need to establish and maintain relationships need for af¬liation
A motivation that underlies
with others (Wong & Csikzentmihalyi, 1991). Contact with friends and acquaintances
our desire to establish
provides us with emotional support, attention, and the opportunity to evaluate the
and maintain rewarding
appropriateness of our opinions and behavior through the process of social compari- interpersonal relationships.
son. The need for af¬liation is the fundamental factor underlying our interpersonal
relationships.
People who are high in the need for af¬liation wish to be with friends and others
more than do people who are low in the need for af¬liation, and they tend to act accord-
ingly. For example, in one study, college men who had a high need for af¬liation picked
living situations that increased the chances for social interaction. They were likely to
have more housemates or to be more willing to share a room than were men with a
lower need for af¬liation (Switzer & Taylor, 1983). Men and women show some dif-
ferences in the need for af¬liation. Teenage girls, for example, spend more time with
friends and less often wish to be alone than do teenage boys (Wong & Csikzentmihalyi,
1991). This is in keeping with other ¬ndings that women show a higher need for af¬li-
ation than do men.
But merely being with others is often not enough to satisfy our social needs. We also
need for intimacy
have a need for intimacy, a need for close and affectionate relationships (McAdams,
A motivation for close and
1982, 1989). Intimacy with friends or lovers involves sharing and disclosing personal
affectionate relationships.
information. Individuals with a high need for intimacy tend to be warm and affection-
ate and to show concern about other people. Most theorists agree that intimacy is an
essential component of many different interpersonal relationships (Laurenceau, Barrett,
& Pietromonaco, 1998).
Intimacy has several dimensions, according to Baumeister and Bratslavsky (1999).
One is mutual disclosure that is sympathetic and understanding. Intimate disclosure
involves verbal communication but also refers to shared experiences. Another dimen-
sion of intimacy includes having a favorable attitude toward the other person that is
expressed in warm feelings and positive acts such that the person is aware of how much
the other cares.
The need for af¬liation and intimacy gives us positive social motivation to approach
other people. They are the roots of interpersonal attraction, which is de¬ned as the desire
to start and maintain relationships with others. But there are also emotions that may
stand in the way of our ful¬lling af¬liation and intimacy needs and forming relation-
ships. We look at these emotions next.
Social Psychology
318


Loneliness and Social Anxiety
Loneliness and social anxiety are two related conditions that have implications for oneʼs
social relationships. Whereas the needs for af¬liation and intimacy are positive motives
that foster interpersonal relationships, loneliness and social anxiety can be seen as nega-
tive motivational states that interfere with the formation of meaningful relationships.
In this section we shall explore loneliness and social anxiety.

Loneliness
Loneliness is a psychological state that results when we perceive an inadequacy in our
loneliness A psychological
state that results when we relationships”a discrepancy between the way we want our relationships to be and the
perceive that there is an way they actually are (Peplau & Perlman, 1982). When we are lonely, we lack the high-
inadequacy or a deprivation
quality intimate relationships that we need. Loneliness may occur within the framework
in our social relationships.
of a relationship. For example, women often expect more intimacy than they experience
in marriage, and that lack of intimacy can be a cause of loneliness (Tornstam, 1992).
Loneliness is common during adolescence and young adulthood, times of life when
old friendships fade and new ones must be formed. For example, consider an 18-year-old
going off to college. As she watches her parents drive away, she is likely to feel, along
with considerable excitement, a sense of loneliness or even abandonment. New college
students often believe that they will not be able to form friendships and that no one
at school cares about them. The friendships they make donʼt seem as intimate as their
high school friendships were. These students often donʼt realize that everybody else is
pretty much in the same boat emotionally, and loneliness is often a signi¬cant factor
when a student drops out of school.
Loneliness is a subjective experience and is not dependent on the number of people
we have surrounding us (Peplau & Perlman, 1982). We can be alone and yet not be
lonely; sometimes we want and need solitude. On the other hand, we can be surrounded
by people and feel desperately lonely. Our feelings of loneliness are strongly in¬‚uenced
by how we evaluate our personal relationships (Peplau & Perlman, 1982). We need close
relationships with a few people to buffer ourselves against feeling lonely.
Culture is also related to perception of loneliness. There is evidence that loneliness
is a cross-cultural phenomenon (DiTommaso, Brannen, & Burgess, 2005). However,
the way loneliness is experienced differs across cultures. For example, DiTommaso et
al. found that Chinese students living in Canada reported higher levels of three types of
loneliness than did Canadians. Additionally, Rokach and Neto (2005) compared Canadian
and Portuguese individuals of varying ages on several dimensions relating to loneliness.
They found that Canadians were more likely to point to their own shortcomings to explain
their loneliness than were Portuguese individuals. Rokach and Neto suggest that this might
be due to a greater disposition of North Americans to view loneliness as a form of social
failure and to different family values and structures between the two cultures.
As suggested earlier, loneliness can be associated with certain relationships or certain
times of life. There are, however, individuals for whom loneliness is a lifelong experience.
Such individuals have dif¬culty in forming relationships with others, and consequently,
they go through life with few or no close relationships. What is the source of their dif¬-
culty? The problem for at least some of these people may be that they lack the basic social
skills needed to form and maintain relationships. Experiences of awkward social interac-
tions intensify these individualsʼ uneasiness in social settings. Lacking con¬dence, they
become increasingly anxious about their interactions with others. Often, because of their
strained social interactions, lonely people may be further excluded from social interaction,
thereby increasing feelings of depression and social anxiety (Leary & Kowalski, 1995).
Chapter 9 Interpersonal Attraction and Close Relationships 319

Beyond the psychological effects of loneliness, there are also physical and health
effects. Hawkley, Burleson, Berntson, and Cacciopo (2003) report that lonely individuals
are more like to show elevated total peripheral resistance (a suspected precursor to hyper-
tension) and lower cardiac output than nonlonely individuals. Loneliness is also associ-
ated with a higher risk for a heart condition in the elderly (Sorkin, Rook, & Lu, 2002).
Loneliness and social isolation are also associated with higher levels of depression in older
males (Alpass & Neville, 2003) and among male and female college students (Segrin,
Powell, Givertz, & Brackin, 2003). In the Segrin et al. study, the relationship between
loneliness and depression was related to relationship satisfaction. Individuals who are
dissatis¬ed with their relationships tend to be lonely and, in turn, are more likely to expe-
rience depression. Finally, lonely individuals get poorer-quality sleep (i.e., awaken more
after falling asleep and show poor sleep ef¬ciency) compared to nonlonely individuals
(Cacioppo et al., 2002). This latter ¬nding suggests that lonely people may be less resil-
ient and more prone to physical problems (Cacioppo et al., 2002).

Social Anxiety
social anxiety Anxiety tied
Social anxiety is one of the most widely diagnosed anxiety disorders. Social anxiety
to interpersonal relationships
(sometimes referred to as social phobia) arises from a personʼs expectation of negative
that occurs because of an
encounters with others (Leary, 1983a, 1983b). Socially anxious people anticipate nega-
individual™s anticipation of
tive interactions and think that other people will not like them very much. These negative negative encounters with
expectations then translate into anxiety in a social situation, using “safety behaviors” others.
(e.g., avoiding eye contact and closely monitoring oneʼs behavior) and underestimating
the quality of the impressions made on others (Hirsch, Meynen, & Clark, 2004). Socially
anxious individuals tend to see ambiguous social situations more negatively than individu-
als without social anxiety (Huppert, Foa, Furr, Filip, & Matthews, 2003). Additionally,
socially anxious individuals tend to dwell on negative aspects of social interactions more
than individuals who are low in social anxiety and also recall more negative information
about the social interaction (Edwards, Rapee, & Franklin, 2003). According to Edwards
et al., this pattern of ¬ndings is consistent with the idea that socially anxious individuals
perform a negatively biased “postmortem” of social events.
There is a cluster of characteristics that de¬ne those with social anxiety. People
who suffer from social anxiety tend to display some of the following interrelated traits
(Nichols, 1974):
• A sensitivity and fearfulness of disapproval and criticism.
• A strong tendency to perceive and respond to criticism that does not exist.
• Low self-evaluation.
• Rigid ideas about what constitutes “appropriate” social behavior.
• A tendency to foresee negative outcomes to anticipated social interactions, which
arouses anxiety.
• An increased awareness and fear of being evaluated by others.
• Fear of situations in which withdrawal would be dif¬cult or embarrassing.
• The tendency to overestimate oneʼs reaction to social situations (e.g., believing
that you are blushing when you are not).
• An inordinate fear of the anxiety itself.
• A fear of being perceived as losing control.
Social Psychology
320

Interestingly, many of these perceptions and fears are either wrong or unfounded.
The research of Christensen and Kashy (1998) shows that lonely people view their
own behavior more negatively than do other people. Other research shows that socially
anxious individuals tend to process disturbing social events negatively immediately
after they occur and a day after the event (Lundh & Sperling, 2002).
Of course, real events and real hurts may be the source of much of our social anxi-
eties. Leary and his colleagues examined the effects of having our feelings hurt in a
variety of ways, ranging from sexual in¬delity, to unreturned phone calls, to being
teased (Leary, Springer, Negel, Ansell, & Evans, 1998). The basic cause of the hurt feel-
ings and consequent anxiety is what Leary calls relational devaluation, the perception
that the other person does not regard the relationship as being as important as you do.
Perhaps the major source of social anxiety is the feeling that you are being excluded
from valued social relations (Baumeister & Tice, 1990). Having oneʼs feelings hurt,
however, leads to more than anxiety. People experience a complex sense of being dis-
tressed, upset, angry, guilty, and wounded. Leary and colleagues (1998) examined the
stories written by people who had been emotionally hurt. They found that unlike the old
saying about “sticks and stones,” words or even gestures or looks elicit hurt feelings,
last for a long time, and do not heal as readily as broken bones. Teasing is one example
of what appeared to be an innocent event”at least from the teaserʼs point of view”that
in reality imprints long-lasting hurt feelings for many victims. The males and females
in the study did not differ much in their reactions to hurt feelings or to teasing.
The people who do these nasty deeds do not realize the depth of the damage that
they cause, nor do they realize how much the victims come to dislike them. Perpetrators
often say that they meant no harm. No harm, indeed.


Love and Close Relationships
Psychologists and other behavioral scientists long thought that love was simply too
mysterious a topic to study scienti¬cally (Thompson & Borrello, 1992). However, psy-
chologists have become more adventuresome, and love has become a topic of increas-
ing interest (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1987). This is only right, because love is among the
most intense of human emotions.

Love™s Triangle
Robert Sternberg (1986, 1988) proposed a triangular theory of love, based on the idea that
triangular theory of love
A theory suggesting love has three components: passion, intimacy, and commitment. As shown in Figure 9.1,
that love is comprised the theory represents love as a triangle, with each component de¬ning a vertex.
of three components”
Passion is the emotional component of love. The “aching” in the pit of your stomach
passion, intimacy, and
when you think about your love partner is a manifestation of this component. Passion is
commitment”each of which is
“a state of intense longing for union with the other” (Hat¬eld & Walster, 1981, p. 13).
conceptualized as a leg of a
Passion tends to be strongest in the early stages of a romantic relationship. It is sexual
triangle that can vary.
desire that initially drives the relationship. De¬ning passion simply as sexual desire
does not do justice to this complicated emotion. It is not improbable that people may
love passionately without sexual contact or in the absence of the ability to have sexual
contact. However, as a rough measure, sexual desire serves to de¬ne passion (Baumeister
& Bratslavsky, 1999).
Intimacy is the component that includes self-disclosure”the sharing of our inner-
most thoughts”as well as shared activities. Intimate couples look out for each otherʼs
Chapter 9 Interpersonal Attraction and Close Relationships 321




Figure 9.1 Robert
Sternberg™s triangular
theory of love. Each leg of
the triangle represents one
of the three components
of love: passion, intimacy,
and commitment.
From Sternberg (1986).




welfare, experience happiness by being in each otherʼs company, are able to count on
each other when times are tough, and give each other emotional support and under-
standing (Sternberg & Gracek, 1984).
The third vertex of the triangle, commitment, is the long-term determination to
maintain love over time. It is different from the decision people make, often in the heat
of passion, that they are in love. Commitment does not necessarily go along with a
coupleʼs decision that they are in love. Sternberg de¬ned various kinds of love, based
on the presence or absence of intimacy, passion, and commitment. Table 9.1 shows each
of these kinds of love and the component or components with which it is associated.
According to Sternberg (1986), the components of love need not occur in a ¬xed
order. There is a tendency for passion to dominate at the start, for intimacy to follow as
a result of self-disclosure prompted by passion, and for commitment to take the longest
to fully develop. However, in an arranged marriage, for example, commitment occurs
before intimacy, and passion may be the laggard.




Table 9.1 Triangular Theory and Different Love Types


Love Component
Kind of Love Intimacy Passion Commitment

Non-love No No No
Liking Yes No No
Infatuated love No Yes No
Empty love No No Yes
Romantic love Yes Yes No
Companionate love Yes No Yes
Fatuous love No Yes Yes
Consummate love Yes Yes Yes
Social Psychology
322

Baumeister and Bratslavsky (1999) studied the relationship between passion and
intimacy and suggested that one may be a function of the other. These scholars argued
that rising intimacy at any point in the relationship will create a strong sense of passion.
If intimacy is stable, and that means it may be high or low, then passion will be low. But
when intimacy rises, so does passion. Passion, then, is a function of change in intimacy
over time (Baumeister & Bratslavsky, 1999). Research generally shows that passion
declines steadily in long-term relationships, particularly among women, but intimacy
does not and may increase in the late stages of the relationship (Acker & Davis, 1992).
Positive changes in the amount of intimacy”self-disclosures, shared experiences”lead
to increases in passion at any stage of a relationship.

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