This sample of an academic paper on Physical Attraction Essay reveals arguments and important aspects of this topic. Read this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and the conclusion below.
The sample was composed of 40 students from the University of Warwick, 20 males and 20 females, between 18 and 24 years of age. Equal numbers of male and female participants were used to counter the effects gender may place on perception of physical attractiveness. The subjects participated in the study on a voluntary basis and were an opportunity sample.
Materials Two consent forms including a brief about the experiment and the participants’ role within it was provided for the couples being rated and the independent judges, (see appendix A and B.)
Separate colour photographs were taken from the neck up of each member of ten long term heterosexual couples using a digital camera. Long term was defined as courting for 6months or over. These couples were told their photograph would be rated for physical attractiveness by independent judges and that the results would be recorded for a psychological investigation, anonymously and confidentially.
Each photograph was printed on a separate sheet of paper and divided into two groups according to sex (see appendix C.)
Paper and pens were used for the subjects to record their ranking order of physical attractiveness for the male and female groups. Microsoft excel was used to format these results (see appendix D.) SPSS (version 10) software was used to calculate the data set. Design The enquiry was a correlation study, exploring the relationship between the two variables of physical attractiveness of an individual and the physical attractiveness of their partner.
Spearman’s rho statistical test was used to calculate the data set because the study was a correlation design and the data was ordinal.
Procedure Participants were asked for full informed consent (see appendix B). They were aware they could withdraw from the study at any point and were provided a chance to clarify any issues they found confusing. They were then taken into a secluded room to prevent any external interference. Photographs were pre-organised into two piles, male and female, although within these groups the order was random. A brief was given of the ranking procedure,
“Please rank the photographs in each pile in order of physical attractiveness, position 1 being the least attractive and 10 the most attractive.” Participants were given unlimited time to complete the task. After recording the results, the subjects were given a verbal debriefing on the nature of the investigation. “Our study is investigating the theory that when seeking a partner we tend to go for those that match us in terms of physical attractiveness.
The 20 photographs we asked you to rank were 10 long term couples. With your results we are going to see if the rank position you gave for the male of the couple is the same as the rank position you gave to the female. If so then it seems our hypothesis is correct. Thank you for you participation. If you wish to get in contact with any of us feel free to.” (We then handed over our email address.)
Once the data set was complete, the results were correlated and analysed using Spearman’s Rho statistical analysis. As this study suggests physical similarity doesn’t denote itself as an important mate selection criteria, we may therefore be assured that appearances aren’t all that matter. In fact, a plethora of empirical documentations have shown that matching of personal characteristics is a more reliable determinate of attraction in long term relationships. For example, Newcomb (1961) provided students with rent-free accommodation in exchange for completed questionnaires concerning attitudes and values.
Over the course of the attraction between the students were closely measured. The results conclusively showed that attraction was ultimately determined by similar pre-acquaintance attitudes, adhering to the balance theory. Brynes repeated findings that matched attitudes is important in relationships led him to form a “law of attraction” – that attraction bears a linear relation to homogenous attitudes. This is a logical implication as agreement is an affirming experience. Furthermore in order to sustain a relationship communication is necessary. If we have little in common with our partner we may lose interest.
Linked to the importance of similarity, the social exchange theory purports close interpersonal relationships are formed on the basis of rewards partners can bring to each other. By striking a value match, individuals seek the partner they believe to be the most realistically rewarding they could hope to find (Thibaut and Kelly 1959; Berscheid and Walster 1978.) In some instances the reward may be physical appearance, explaining the slight correlation found in the results, however personality and social outlook tend to be viewed as stronger and often greater rewards. Furthermore these rewards can be counterbalanced, completing the equity theory that rewards should be contributed equality by each partner to avoid unfairness, for example one of the partners may be highly attractive and of average intelligence, whilst the other is average attractiveness and highly intelligent.
Despite the general support for homogeny in relationships, another theory offering an explanation for the results is the notion of needs complimentary. This states in short that “opposites attract” as different characteristics can “compliment” each others psychological needs (Winch, 1958.) For example a dominant person may seek a submissive person or visa versa. However there is little experimental documentation to support this notion. It is more probable that complimenting develops later in courtship as each member of the relationship takes their role. (Rubin 1973)
Even though there are theories offering explanations for the results of this experiment, I still feel there is evidence within society pointing us to the matching hypothesis of physical similarity. I therefore look to the experimental design to see if there are any reasons for inaccurate results. Firstly the matching hypothesis depends on the individual’s self-evaluation (Leonard 1975.). If a person has low self-esteem, it is likely that they will seek a partner who is below their own “market value.” As we only had a small sample of couples, it is possible a few individuals who judged themselves to be lower than they actually are have affected the total findings.
Hence for future studies I would increase the sample size. Secondly, even though we only used long term couples, we weren’t really aware of the level of commitment. If the couples were only casual, the criteria used is generally less tied to their own “market value.” As all the couples were students at the same university they may have been dating for six months, but due to the structure of terms, it is possible they were only actually together for four months.
If I were to repeat this study I would raise the definition of long-term to 1 year or over. Thirdly, the photographed individuals may not have been accurately represented in the picture resulting in inaccurate ratings. In a future study this extraneous variable could be reduced by presenting a number of photographs of the same individual to the ranking procedure. Due to the findings of this experiment, it would be interesting to include personality assessments to the procedure. We would therefore be able to see if there is a correlation between similar personalities in cases where the couples didn’t match in physical attractiveness.