Why Do We Love Whom We Love?

Why Do We Love Whom We Love?

There are 7 main reasons!

1. Proximity: We are more likely to love people who live/ work close by to us.

2. Similarity: The more similarities you have, the more people find one another attractive. Birds of a feather really do flock together.

3. Familiarity: With people and even with other things, the more familiar we are with them, the more likely we are to like them. So a song you hear before, the second time you hear it you will probably like it better than the first time. Experiments have even shown that if you show someone symbols at such a fast rate that they don’t remember them, they will later show increased liking for the shape/ design of those symbols than for new unfamiliar ones.

4. Competence: The more competent someone is, the more we find them attractive, although there is a degree of competence which peopel start to find intimidating. Funnily enough, if a competent person blunders in some way, it increases our liking of them. This is called "The pratfall effect". For example, if you saw Albert Einstein spill coffee on himself, this is likely to increase feelings of endearment towards him and take away some of the intimidation factor.

5. Physical attractiveness: The more physically attractive someone is, the more likely we are to go on a second date with them, especially in cases where you are meeting the date for the first time on the first date and don’t have too much familiary with them or know about their similarities with you, their competence etc. Empirically, we find that attractive people’s opinions towards us are more important to us than the opinions of non-attractive people towards us.

6. Gain-loss effect:
The gain effect: We are attracted to people who’s regard for us gains over time. ie: People who at first think little of us, but over time gain respect for you – you are more likely to find them attractive than someone who liked you without any conditions right from the start, even if the person who liked you from the start likes you more than the other person. (Classic Betty and Veronica effect maybe?!)
The loss effect: If someone who loves you suddenly lets you go and moves on, it can hurt a lot and can increase our attraction towards them. When you expect something positive from someone, when they don’t give it to you – you crave it even more!

7. Misattribution of arousal:
This is when you’re aroused because of something else, don’t realise the arousal is due to that activity, and in your rationalization, you tend to turn to the most salient object in your social environment and attribute causes to it! Arousal symptoms are very similar to quite a few stimuli other than attraction/ love!
For example, if you’ve just had a strong coffee which is making your heart beat faster, your palms sweaty, and making you a bit breathless, you might try to rationalize and wrongly think it’s due to being aroused by the person you’re with!
The same migth happen if you’ve just had a scary experience eg walking across a rickety old bridge, and then felt funny whilst talking to someone and attribute the funny feeling to love.
In one experiment, when asked how attractive subjects found their experimenter, subjects found their experimenter more attractive when told they were about to undergo electric shock treatment than the group that was not told what they were going to undergo. Why? The anxiety-driven effects of anticipating electric shocks were misinterpreted by the subjects as arousal!
Misattribution of arousal also explains why you may find people at the gym more attractive than in other places!
In a more pathological case, people may be attracted to abusive relationships due to the misattribution of arousal which actually comes from fear and anxiety they feel during the abuse.

http://oyc.yale.edu/yale/psychology/introduction-to-psychology/content/sessions/lecture09.html
http://oyc.yale.edu/yale/psychology/introduction-to-psychology/content/resources/class09.pdf

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