Examine biological, psychological, and social origins of attraction


Biological origins of attraction


Evolutionary explanation 1: Neurobiology of love


According to Fisher (2004) love is a human universal and evolution has produced three distinct motivational brain systems in all birds and mammals to direct courtship, mating, reproduction, and parenting: attraction, the sex drive, and attachment. The three systems interact with each other to produce the combination of emotions, motivations, and behaviors associated with “love”.





Study to use: Fisher et al. (2003)


Evolutionary explanation 2: Partner selection based on genes



Study to use: Wedekind (1995)


Evaluation of evolutionary explanations





Psychological origins of attraction


Similarity-attraction hypothesis:


The theory assumes that people are likely to be attracted to individuals who are perceived to be similar to themselves. This is because people who share our attitudes and values validate ourselves and boosts our self-esteem, which in turn leads to attraction. The theory is well supported by research.


Study to use: Markey and Markey (2007)


Sociocultural origins of attraction


Proximity factor – physical closeness is important in attraction


The proximity theory of attraction suggests that simply being in the physical presence of another individual will enhance the probability of becoming friends.


Study to use: Festinger et al. (1950)


Cultural factors in attraction


Evolutionary theories claim that attraction is determined by biological factors. This implies that men and women should prefer the same in their partners (universal factors) but this is only true to some extent. Cultural factors seem to play a role as well (e.g. the role attributed to chastity).


Study to use: Buss et al. (1990)