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Day 1: Theories of Attraction

February 1, 2016

Day 1: Theories of Attraction

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Similar to common drugs, attraction has its street names. Crushes and feels (short for feelings) both refer back to one thing: being drawn to another person. Whether sentiments consist of solely physical attraction, emotional attraction or a combination of the two, love is a fundamental human attribute and psychological evidence proves that attraction plays a huge role in the development of passionate love.

It should be noted that attraction plays a role specifically in passionate love. From a psychological standpoint, passionate love consists of intense admiration and sexual desire, transcending compassionate love, or the platonic feelings one has for their friends and family.

“There has been one girl that I remember that we thought we were just going to be best friends, and I thought she was beautiful, but I didn’t think I would be attracted to her in any way more than just being friends,” senior Alejandro Jarmel said, “but we started hanging out more and more, and the friendship eventually led to something more because we realized how wonderful we were with each other.”

Several factors contribute to what is cognitively perceived as attraction. The similarity principle of attraction pertains to just that: how similar people are to each other plays a role in their attraction for one another. Having common traits, interests and goals helps people choose whom they are attracted to.

Additionally, proximity and reciprocity highly influence attraction. Proximity refers to the idea that greater and more frequent exposure to a person results in a greater appreciation and admiration for them. In other words, you suddenly realize that the person you have in three classes is cute because you are in their presence for three hours a day. Reciprocity, on the other hand, explains that you may be more inclined to develop feelings for another person if you know that the he or she already has feelings for you . Rejection hurts. Developing interest in someone who already likes you lowers the chances of getting hurt.

“For me personally, I would say that reciprocity and similarity are emphasized [in attraction],” senior Rosalie Luo said. “I think proximity has a lot to do with it too, as most people are more likely to date others within their own school.”

Evolutionary evidence also contributes to the principles of attraction. William McAuliffe, a graduate student at the University of Miami (UM), currently works in the university’s Evolutionary and Human Behavior lab, while earning his Ph.D. in Psychology. An evolutionary approach to attraction explains that humans seek partners who exhibit physical signs of being able to healthily procreate.

“Most evolutionary researchers approach attraction by trying to identify what traits in a potential partner are correlated with good genes because then their offspring will have genes that make them more likely to survive and reproduce,” McAuliffe said. “For example, facial symmetry is preferred in mates across all cultures, presumably because it’s correlated with having fewer deleterious mutations.”


This Valentine’s Day, put yourself out there. Your best friend may want to be more than friends too. Talk to that someone you have in three classes– they might be feeling the same thing you are. Say yes to those dates you have been declining from that person that likes you– you lose nothing from giving someone who cares a chance. Appreciate every symmetrical face you see– it means a generation with less deleterious mutations is on the way.


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