<<

. 70
( 115 .)



>>

of physical attractiveness. We tend to ascribe positive qualities to physically
attractive people.
Chapter 9 Interpersonal Attraction and Close Relationships 353

The downside to the physical attractiveness bias is that we tend to
stigmatize those who are unattractive and ascribe negative qualities to them.
In our society, obese people are particularly stigmatized and are portrayed
negatively in art, literature, and ¬lms.
There is research evidence that the physical attractiveness bias is rooted
in our biology: Even at 2 months, infants attend more to an attractive than
an unattractive face. A new theory suggests that attractiveness, in the form
of facial and body symmetry, may re¬‚ect genetic soundness. The physical
attractiveness bias would thus have survival value for the species.
7. What does evolutionary theory have to say about mate selection?
Evolutionary theory suggests that symmetry (physical attractiveness) is
re¬‚ective of underlying genetic quality. The preference for symmetry in
potential mates may be instinctive. Physical appearance marked by high
symmetry reveals to potential mates that the individual has good genes and is
therefore, for both men and women, a highly desirable choice. Of course, good
genes are not enough in a relationship. Successful relationships are long-term.
“Good provider” models of mate selection emphasize the potential mateʼs
commitment to the relationship and ability to provide resources necessary for
the long-term health of that relationship.
8. How can one attract a mate?
Evolutionary theorists suggest that to attract a mate humans have developed
love acts”behaviors, such as display of resources the other sex ¬nds enticing,
to attract a mate. Males tended to use displays of resources, whereas females
tried to look more attractive and threatened to be unfaithful to arouse jealousy.
Jealousy is evoked when a threat or loss occurs to a valued relationship
due to the partnerʼs attention to a rival. Men and women react differently
to in¬delity. Men are more concerned with sexual in¬delity and women are
more concerned with emotional in¬delity. Even though men and women use
different criteria for selecting a long-term mate (women look for resources,
men for physical attractiveness), they have similar strategies for short-term
relationships. When looking for a casual sexual partner, both men and women
emphasize attractiveness.
9. How do close relationships form and evolve?
Models of how relationships develop emphasize a predictable sequence of
events. One such model suggests that relationships develop across a series of
stages involving an initial increase in shared activities followed by an increase
in mutuality. That is, friends or lovers begin to share more intimate thoughts
and feelings and become more and more interdependent.
Social penetration theory emphasizes that relationships change over
time in both breadth (the range of topics people discuss and activities they
engage in together) and depth (the extent to which they share their inner
thoughts and feelings). Relationships progress in a predictable way from
slight and super¬cial contact to greater and deeper involvement. An important
contributor to increasing social penetration is self-disclosure, the ability and
willingness to share intimate areas of oneʼs life.
Social Psychology
354

At some point, individuals begin to evaluate the status of their
relationships according to the rewards and costs derived from them. According
to social exchange theory, people evaluate a relationship against two
comparison levels: what they think they should be getting out of a relationship
and how the present relationship compares with potential alternatives. Equity
theory maintains that people evaluate relationships according to the relative
inputs and outcomes for each party in the relationship. If inequity exists, the
relationship may be in trouble. However, many love relationships are governed
by communal principles, in which individuals bene¬t each other in response
to the otherʼs needs. In communal relationships, one partner can put more into
the relationship than the other. That is, people may deliberately underbene¬t
themselves for the sake of the relationship.
10. How are relationships evaluated?
We periodically evaluate the status of our intimate relationships. Any
interruption in the normal sequence of events in a relationship sends up a
red ¬‚ag. Social exchange theory suggests that relationships are evaluated
according to the rewards and costs derived from a relationship. As long as
rewards outweigh costs, a relationship is likely to continue. However, even
if rewards outweigh costs, we may not continue the relationship. We use
comparison levels to evaluate the outcomes we derive from a relationship.
One comparison level is our expectation of what we will obtain from the
relationship. Another comparison level involves comparing the outcomes of
the relationship we are presently in with the expected outcomes of possible
alternative relationships. If we conclude that alternative relationships would
not be better or may even be worse than a current relationship, we will likely
stay in our relationship. However, if we believe that an alternative relationship
holds out the promise of better outcomes, we may end a current relationship.
Another theory is equity theory, which says that we evaluate our
relationships based on their rewards and costs, but it also focuses on our
perception of equity, or balance, in relationships. An equitable relationship is
likely to be stable, whereas an inequitable one is likely to be unstable. Inequity
leads people to try to restore equity to the relationship.
11. What is a communal relationship?
A communal relationship is a relationship governed more by communal
principles than principles of exchange or equity. In a communal relationship,
individuals bene¬t each other in response to the otherʼs needs. In such a
relationship, partners tolerate inequity. Love relationships are often governed
by communal principles. In such relationships, high costs are often associated
with relationship satisfaction. Making sacri¬ces for the sake of a relationship
can strengthen the relationship.
12. How do relationships change over time?
Research shows that couples who maintained their relationship show
increased relationship satisfaction. Couples who broke up showed a decrease
in relationship health just before the breakup. Long-term couples are very
supportive of each other and that makes it easier to overcome hardship. A
Chapter 9 Interpersonal Attraction and Close Relationships 355

belief in romantic destiny (i.e., that partners were made for each other) is
positively related to relationship duration. In a sense, successful relationships
involve partners sculpting a relationship by inducing changes in each other.
Successful couples work hard at protecting the social structures that support
their relationships.
13. What are the strategies couples use in response to con¬‚ict in a relationship?
One strategy for handling con¬‚ict is to construct a story to explain the event
in a way that takes the blame away from their partner, showing the partner
in the best possible light. This strategy, however, may just go so far to reduce
con¬‚ict. Couples can also engage in an accommodation process, which means
a partner focuses on positive things that maintain and enhance the relationship
in the face of con¬‚ict. Accommodation is most likely in important relationships
and when no potential alternative relationships exist. Couples who handle
con¬‚ict via accommodation tend to have successful relationships. Dwelling on
negativity harms a relationship.
There may be situations where accommodation is dif¬cult to accomplish.
For example, in a case of in¬delity, accommodation may not solve a problem.
In such cases couples may engage in interpersonal forgiveness. Forgiveness
involves a decrease in the use of retaliation along with an increase in
conciliation. Forgiveness involves a transition from a negative motivational
state to a positive one. Forgiveness is made more dif¬cult as the seriousness of
a transgression increases.
14. What are the four horsemen of the apocalypse?
The four horsemen of the apocalypse are four steps identi¬ed by Gottman
that can lead to the breakup of a relationship. They are complaining/criticizing,
contempt, defensiveness, and withdrawal from social interaction (stonewalling).
The last factor is the most damaging to a relationship and is highly predictive
of marital divorce. There is a cascading relationship between the four
horsemen: Criticism can lead to contempt. Contempt can lead to defensiveness,
which can lead to withdrawal. Gottman has observed that successful couples
take steps to repair a dispute to make sure the argument does not spiral out of
control.
15. What is the nature of friendships?
According to Sternberg, friendships are characterized by liking and involve
intimacy but not passion or commitment. Friendships are based on an ongoing
interdependence between people. There are some gender differences in
friendships, although these differences may have decreased in recent years.
Both males and females need the intimacy offered by friendships. However,
females still seem to view friends as more important than males do, and
females make better friends. Interactions with females are more likely to be
characterized by disclosure, intimacy, and satisfaction, all of which act as
buffers against loneliness.
Interpersonal
Aggression
To live without killing is a thought which could
electrify the world, if men were only capable of
staying awake long enough to let the idea soak in.
”Henry Miller




On October 2, 2002, at around 6:00 P.M., James D. Martin was standing Key Questions
in the parking lot of a Wheaton, Maryland, grocery store. He was there As you read this chapter,
to buy groceries for his church. From out of nowhere came the crack of a ¬nd the answers to the
ri¬‚e and moments later Martin lay dying on the ground in the parking lot. following questions:
Just a few hours later at 7:40 A.M. on October 3, 2003, James Buchanan
1. How do social psychologists
was gunned down in the same way while he was cutting the grass at an de¬ne aggression?
automobile dealership in White Flint, Maryland. So began a shooting spree
2. What are the different types of
that would claim the lives of seven more unsuspecting victims and seriously
aggression?
wound several others. The only connection between the victims was that they
3. What are the gender
were victims of the “Beltway Sniper.” The victims were seemingly chosen at
differences in aggression?
random. For 3 weeks the Beltway Sniper terrorized residents of Maryland,
4. How can we explain
Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
aggression?
As one might expect, the police mounted a massive hunt for the sniper.
Early on, unreliable reports and pro¬les led police to look for someone in a 5. What are the ethological,
sociobiological, and genetic
white van, most likely a white male. For three weeks, police were stumped
explanations for aggression?
as the shooting spree continued. Finally, a break in the case came when
police received a tip from a truck driver who spotted a car matching one 6. What role do brain
mechanisms play in
the police were seeking in connection with the sniper attacks. The car had
aggression?
a hole bored into the trunk through which the sniper could shoot and then
quickly leave the scene. The car was a mobile sniper™s nest. Based on the 7. How does alcohol
consumption relate to
tip, police arrested two individuals: John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd
aggression?
Malvo. Muhammad was a 41-year-old Gulf War veteran who was highly
8. What is the frustration-
rated as a marksman. Malvo was 17 years old at the time of the shooting.
aggression hypothesis?
Police found a Bushmaster XM-15 ri¬‚e in Muhammad™s car and ballistic tests
showed that the ri¬‚e was used in the beltway shooting spree. 9. How does anger relate to
frustration and aggression,
and what factors contribute
to anger?
357
Social Psychology
358


As police began to unravel the case they discovered that there may have
10. How does social been more than one motive for the killings. One motive was to extort 10 million
learning theory explain dollars from the U.S. government. Another was that Muhammad was going to
aggression?
use the random killings to set up the murder of his ex-wife with whom he was
11. What are aggressive having a custody dispute. Whatever the motive or motives, the results remain the
scripts, and how do they same: nine people dead and several more wounded.
relate to aggression?
What possessed Muhammad and Malvo to murder nine innocent, unsuspect-
12. How does the family ing people? Were they disturbed individuals, or were they a product of their
socialize a child into environment? Were they frustrated? Had they somehow learned that violence
aggression?
was an acceptable way to solve one™s problems?
13. What is the role of The Beltway Sniper case also raises other important questions. For example,
culture in aggression?
what can be done to lessen the use of violence and aggression as a form of
14. What role do the media con¬‚ict resolution? What steps can individuals and a society take to prevent such
play in aggression? a tragic event from occurring again? These are some of the questions addressed
in this chapter.
15. What are the effects of
playing violent video
games on aggressive
behavior?

What Is Aggression?
16. What is the link
between sexual violence
portrayed in the media
What exactly is aggression? The term tends to generate a certain amount of confusion,
and sexual aggression
because a laypersonʼs concept of aggression differs somewhat from what social psy-
toward women?
chologists study. In day-to-day life we hear about the aggressive salesperson who will
17. How can aggression be
not take no for an answer and the aggressive businessperson who stops at nothing to win
reduced?
a promotion. These usages convey forceful, overbearing, or overly assertive behavior.
Social psychologists, however, de¬ne aggression as any behavior that is intended
aggression Any behavior
to in¬‚ict harm (whether psychological or physical) on another organism or object. There
intended to in¬‚ict either
psychological or physical are several important things to note about this de¬nition. First, a crucial element of the
harm on another organism de¬nition is intent: A person must have intended to harm in order for the act to be clas-
or object. si¬ed as aggressive. If someone deliberately hits a neighbor with a baseball bat during
an argument, it is considered aggressive. If the person accidentally hits the neighbor
with a baseball bat while playing ball in the yard, it is not considered aggressive.
Note, too, that the harm intended by an aggressive act need not be physical. A navy
commander who continually sexually harasses a female subordinate, causing stress,
anxiety, and depression, may not be doing her any overt physical harm; he is, however,
causing her psychological harm. Third, aggression is not limited to actions directed
toward living organisms. Aggression also can be directed toward inanimate objects.
A person might smash the window of a neighborʼs car in retaliation for some real or
imagined con¬‚ict with that neighbor.
This broad de¬nition covers a great deal of ground, but it requires further elabora-
tion. Using this de¬nition, we would be tempted to liken the actions of a police of¬cer
who kills a murder suspect in the line of duty with those of a paid assassin who kills for
pro¬t. Because such a wide range of behavior can be called aggressive, psychologists
have de¬ned several different types of aggression, which we look at next.
hostile aggression
Aggressive behavior stemming Levels and Types of Aggression
from angry or hostile impulses,
Clearly, aggression exists on many different levels and is made up of several types of
with a primary goal to
behavior. All aggression, for example, does not stem from the same underlying motives
in¬‚ict injury on some person
and intentions. Some, referred to as hostile aggression, stems from angry and hostile
or object.
Chapter 10 Interpersonal Aggression 359

impulses (Feshbach, 1964), and its primary goal is to in¬‚ict injury on some person or
object. For example, when a gay man named Matthew Shepard was murdered, one of

<<

. 70
( 115 .)



>>