Why You Choose the People You Do
Many of us will agree that at one time or the other in our lives, we have felt attracted to other people for reasons we cannot explain. We find ourselves attracted to them, getting more and more fond of their company and energy as we spend time together. Understandably, due to different reasons, people attach this feeling to match-making superstitions, with the core idea revolving around the fact that nature draws you closer to people who, later on, may turn out to be friends or life partners. While we may be tempted to immediately discard such theories as silly or too ‘new wave’ for us, it has been proven by many experiences, as well as psychological experts, to be true.
Similarity Attraction: The Concept
The “Similarity-attraction theory” is a concept we are already all familiar with, although we may not officially attribute any specific name to it. The theory maintains that there is a tendency for individuals to like and be attracted to people who are similar to themselves. This goes with the age-long saying: “birds of a feather flock together”, or the biblical saying “show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.” However, we should note that attraction does not necessarily mean physical attraction but can also mean enjoying a person’s company and being generally fond of a person.
This theory has been formalized in research since the mid-1900s. Scholars have conducted research that revealed the likelihood of humans to desire a relationship with people who share similar behaviors with them. As a matter of fact, they discovered that the higher the significance or importance of a shared attitude, the higher the attraction level.
From the perspective of friendship and romantic contexts, various dimensions of similarity have been studied. Similarity effects tend to be strongest and most consistent for attitudes, values, activity preferences, and attractiveness. Similarity in personalities has shown weaker but still considerable effects of attraction between people.
Generally, the similarity-attraction effect has been studied and tested in a number of interesting ways. First, volunteers in a social experiment were given descriptions of a person they were about to meet. These descriptions were manipulated to vary in their degree of similarity, from very similar to very dissimilar, to the participant’s own standing on whatever dimensions the investigator wished to study.
The second method examines the properties of interest in relationship partners, usually by questionnaire. The degree of correspondence between partners is then compared with that of random pairs of people. It was revealed that people matched better with other people who share a few traits with them. The number of extensive and conclusive research carried out on the matter has convinced a few psychologists to refer the similarity-attraction effect as law rather than theory.
Reasons for Attraction
It is a known fact that you naturally feel more comfortable spending time with people that possess similar qualities or attitude to you. This is usually characterized by the sense of belonging or fitting in, which has been regarded as the most important reason why individuals are more attracted to those who share similar attitudes.
Furthermore, surrounding yourself with people around that support your general views on life corroborate or agree with your beliefs will make you feel accepted and feels rather comfortable. You can use these commonalities as foundation points to build and sustain meaningful relationships. This trait has always existed in humans, ever since we were kids. In your school days for example, realizing that majority of your classmates chose the same answer as yourself in a controversial question instills a level of safety and confidence in you. Conversely, if no one else chose the same answer, you feel isolated and alone and doubt your answer over and over.
Furthermore, we humans are creatures of habit. One of the ways by which we exhibit this is our constant pursue of stability in every aspect of our lives. When those around you agree with how you generally perceive life and its many ideologies, they offer a sense of stability. And when you feel safe, you let down your guard and let those people in. You also understand those people naturally. You rarely have to guess as to how they will feel or what they will say in regard to different situations. The similarity between both of you suggests that how you feel or what you would say will probably be in conformity with their reaction. The stability offered by this kind of reality is quite comforting and assuring and creates fertile, common ground.
In addition, passing off as friendly, nice, easy going, polite, and approachable increases your chances of attracting potential friends. Therefore, if similar values, interests, and backgrounds are present, the likelihood of a friendship is even greater. It is important to reflect and pinpoint the values and traits that are shared by those in critical relationships because they can be leveraged to strengthen ties and solidify bonds People with positive traits want to attract people with their kind of positive traits even if they don’t recognize it. The similarity-attraction principle may or may not apply to people with bad behavior; however, you definitely will not see anyone claiming negative traits to be their source of attraction.
Interestingly, opening up or revealing yourself to another person is a sign that you respect, like, and trust them. It also indicates that you trust them enough to reciprocate the accorded trust and respect to a certain extent.
Other Factors Affecting Attraction
Psychologists agree that there may be at least three specific links between self-disclosure, attraction, and likeability, which include:
i. the more you disclose about yourself, the more you are liked
ii. people disclose more to those they initially like; and
iii. the very act of disclosing makes you like the person to whom you are disclosing to.
Further research has revealed that the similarity-attraction reality is not only limited to attitudes, feelings, and behaviors. People are also more attracted to others who are physically similar to themselves (apparently, this only applies to a handful of people). Physical fitness is a common example of these situations. Many physically fit individuals tend to enjoy the company of other fit persons and sometimes also prefer them as romantic partners. Other examples of physical similarity-attraction include tall people choosing people of similar height as friends or romantic partners, or physically attractive people preferring the company of equally attractive individuals. The examples are quite extensive and spread across different categories and factors. Why you choose the people in your life is mostly because you see a lot of yourself in them, without even realizing sometimes!
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