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Determinants of Interpersonal Attraction


The society today values the concept of diversity which illustrates that individuals often meet various types of people in their day to day activities. However, despite meeting and interacting with multiple people, individuals form lasting relationships with only a few. As such, psychologists and other scholars have dedicated various resources on the analysis of the determinants of interpersonal attraction. In social psychology, interpersonal attraction refers to a positive attitude towards a particular individual regarding three main components: behavior, cognition and sentiment (Byrne & Cloire, 1966). Primarily, interpersonal attraction involves the desire to form friendly or romantic associations. There are several determinants for interpersonal attraction including physical proximity, physical attractiveness and similarity in personalities particularly attitudes (Condon & Crano, 1988). This literature review explores the determinants of interpersonal attraction concentrating on similarity in attitudes and personalities as determinants of interpersonal attraction.

Byrne and Cloire (1966)insist that the concept of interpersonal attraction is primarily grounded on the attitudinal reaction of an individual to a stranger. The scholars argue interpersonal attraction is a positive function of an individual’s proportional response to an attitude scale. The research applied three different stimuli in which a stranger was depicted in three different systems including sound color movie, a recorded tape and a response in a mimeograph attitude scale (Byrne & Cloire, 1966). Through the three different mechanisms, the participants learned twelve critical opinions of the strangers. Therefore the study indicated that despite the stimulus model, an interpersonal attraction is a function of similar attitudes among individuals. The research supports the initial hypothesis of the survey that attitudinal similarity is a core determinant of interpersonal attraction.

Griffitt (1969), on the other hand, asserts that interpersonal attraction between and amongst individuals is a positive function of similarity in personalities. Therefore, this particular research goes beyond the aspect of attitude similarity to encompass a person’s personality. The inquiry on personality similarity is grounded on several variables including similarities in needs, values, intelligence, economic elements, and emotional status among others. Using undergraduate students as participants, the research indicated the attraction is affected by the level of similar self-concept statements and the second study revealed attraction was significantly influenced by the degree of the stranger’s self-similarity to the subject of the ideal individual (Griffitt, 1969). The results corresponded with the hypothesis of the study that interpersonal attraction is an increasing function of similarities in individual’s self-concept. The research article illustrates the necessity of similar personalities particularly the idea of self in interpersonal attraction.

Condon and Crano (1988) go beyond the aspect of similarity in attitudes and argue that the relationship between attitude similarity and interpersonal attraction is interceded by an individual’s opinions of the other’s assessment of them. Applying a hypothetical stranger and subject model, the researchers manipulated the similarity in attitudes, and the analyzed the stranger’s evaluation of the subject. The results of the survey revealed significant insights into the manipulated variables on attraction (Condon & Crano, 1988). The study showed that interpersonal attraction extends beyond attitude similarity to embrace the evaluation and perception of the two strangers regarding their attitudes. This particular research was grounded on the concept that while there is undeniable evidence on the link between attitude similarity and interpersonal attraction, there is a necessity to depict the basis of the association. The survey offers further insight into the dynamics and underlying variables associated with the concept of similarity-attraction in psychology.

Shaikh and Kanekar (2001), on the other hand, analyze the impact of affiliation need on the interpersonal attraction in the framework of attitudinal similarity or dissimilarity. The study hypothesized that people with a high association need are likely to be more appealed by an unfamiliar person and as such will be less judgmental on the grounds of attitudinal similarity. The survey applied a two by two structure including attitudinal similarity or dissimilarity and association need which was categorized as either high or low. The results of the study confirmed the conclusions of previous research on the importance of attitudinal similarity in interpersonal attraction, with the similarity effect accounting for more than 80 percent of interpersonal associations and relationships, it also showcased that the need for affiliation has no significant impact on the aspect of liking an individual(Shaikh & Kanekar, 2001). The lack of significance regarding need for association is attributed to the substantial effect of attitudinal similarity on the formation of interpersonal relationships which may have smothered the potential need for association. The study provides further emphasizes on the tremendous influence of attitudinal similarity on interpersonal attraction since it demonstrates the need of affiliation has no significance influence on interpersonal attraction.

Montoya and Horton (2004) emphasize the importance of cognitive evaluation in the aspect of interpersonal attraction. The researchers conducted three research in which cognitive assessment of an individual was the primary source of attraction. The first research focused on the intercession influence of cognitive evaluation on attitudinal similarity; the second study focused on path analysis of cognitive assessment, attitudinal similarity and interpersonal attraction while the third study concentrated on empirical and theoretical support on the link and association between and among the three elements (Montoya & Horton , 2004). The survey revealed cognitive assessment has important effects on the analysis of attitudinal similarity and by extension interpersonal attraction. The study proposes a new model of attraction where the researchers perceive interpersonal attraction as an information assimilation system. The model is grounded in acknowledging cognitive assessment as a critical determinant of attraction and an intermediary between attitude-personality analysis and attraction.


In the past half a century, significant attention has been dedicated to the concept of interpersonal attraction and its determinants. Of the different reasons such as physical attractiveness, cooperativeness, intelligence and attitude-personality similarities, attitudinal-personality similarity has received the most attention. The research analyzed herein acknowledges that attitude-personality similarity is a crucial determinant of interpersonal attraction. Moreover, one study recognizes the importance of cognitive evaluation as an intermediary in the personality-attitude and interpersonal interaction model. Therefore, it is evident many people often form interpersonal relationships with individuals with similar attitudes and personalities.


Byrne, D., & Cloire, G. (1966). Predicting interpersonal attraction toward strangers presented in three different stimulus models. Psychonomic Science , 4(6), 239-240. Retrieved from Accessed 17 October 2018.

Condon, J. W., & Crano, W. D. (1988). Inferred evaluation and the relation between attitude similarity and interpersonal attraction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(5), 789-797. Retrieved from Accessed 17 October 2018

Griffitt, W. (1969). Personality similarity and self-concept as determinants of interpersonal attraction. The Journal of Social Psychology, 78, 137-146. Retrieved from Accessed 18 October 2018.

Montoya, M. R., & Horton, R. S. (2004). On the importance of cognitive evaluation as a determinant of interpersonal attraction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86(5), 696-712. Retrived from Accessed 17 October 2018

Shaikh, T., & Kanekar, S. (2001). Attitudinal similarity and affiliation need as determinants of interpersonal attraction. The Journal of Social Psychology, 134(2), 257-259. Retrieved from Accessed 17 October 2018.


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