In a broad sense, interpersonal attraction means creating a positive emotional relationship in the perception of other people. Investigation of the factors of interpersonal attraction began in the 1930s. with an analysis of the issues why there is an interpersonal attraction and who attracts who and why.
An attraction is the process of formation of the attractiveness of some person for a perceiver, and the product of this process, i.e., a quality of the relationship. This ambiguity of the term is particularly important to emphasize and keep in mind, when the attraction is investigated in the context of the third, perceptive, party of the communication process. On the one hand, the question arises, what is the mechanism of formation of affection, friendship, feelings, or, on the contrary, hostility in the perception of the other person, and on the other, what is the role of this phenomenon (the process and the product) in the structure of communication in general, in the development of it as a specific system, including both the exchange of information and cooperation, and mutual understanding.
The inclusion of attractions in the process of interpersonal perception reveals with great clarity the characteristic of human communication, namely the fact that communication is always the realization of certain relationships (both social and interpersonal). Attraction is associated primarily with this latter type of relationship implemented through communication.
Attractions can be seen as a special kind of social attitude to another person, which is dominated by the emotional component, when the “other” is assessed mainly in terms of typical to affective ratings.
Empirical (including experimental) studies mainly focus on and clarify the factors that lead to the emergence of positive emotional relationships between people, in particular, the issue of the similarity of characteristics of subject and object of perception in the process of attraction, the role of “environmental” characteristics of the communication process (the degree of intimacy in communication, frequency of meetings, etc.).
Many studies reveal a connection between interpersonal attraction and a special type of interaction between the partners, for example in terms of “helping” behavior. If the whole process of interpersonal perception cannot be considered outside the particular relationship, the process of attraction is just the appearance of a positive emotional relationship with the perception of another person.
Study of attractions in the context of the social activity opens a wide perspective for interpreting the attraction features, in particular the function of emotional regulation of interpersonal relationships within the group. These kinds of studies are only beginning. However, it is important to immediately identify their place in the overall logic of social psychology. The natural development of ideas about human interaction can identify ways to explore interpersonal attractions in the context of the communication of individuals in the group.
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