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Attraction: Types, Cultural Differences & Interpersonal Attraction

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  • 0:38 Cultural Differences
  • 1:10 Similar Traits
  • 1:26 Relationship Constraints
  • 1:46 Triangular Model of Love
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Polly Peterson
What makes people attractive? In this lesson, you'll start with physical attributes and look beyond to other factors that determine attraction. Get ready to explore the love triangle!

What qualities do we find attractive in others?

Example of a classically attractive baby face
Leonardo deCaprio Photo

Cross-culturally, people who have baby faces, like Leonardo deCaprio, with large foreheads, big eyes and small noses are thought to be attractive. The attraction may originate in the idea that a youthful look indicates health or fertility or may relate to an instinctive human desire to nurture babies.

Different cultures have varying ideas about other characteristics that make someone attractive. For example, in some cultures thin people are perceived as attractive, whereas in other cultures, weight is an indication of wealth and fertility.

Attractiveness is determined by characteristics that mark status in any given culture. Following the old adage, people who are thought to be attractive are healthy, wealthy and wise.

So, physical attractiveness isn't the only quality that determines our feelings towards others. We're likely to choose friends and romantic partners who share similar traits with us-like age, personality and intelligence and who belong to the same social groups and thus share religious beliefs, economic class and level of education.

Relationships are partly constrained by geographic proximity and accessibility, but we also tend to associate and be compatible with people who are like ourselves and who will be more likely to reciprocate our attraction.

Interpersonal Attraction

Diagram of the triangular model of love by Sternberg
Robert Sternbergs Triangular Model of Love

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