The matching hypothesis - Sample Essay

There are many factors involved in the formation of relationships, proximity, exposure and family, similarity, physical attractiveness, complementarily, competence and reciprocal liking. In this investigation, the research will explore attractiveness, specifically the match hypothesis. Zuckerman et al (1995) reported that the more attractive a person seemed to be, the more positive was another’s overall impression of that person. Symons (1979) showed that a woman’s physical health, age, and uniqueness are attractive to men whereas a man’s status, height, skills, and abilities are attractive to women.

Berry and Miller (2001) found that males rated physical attractiveness as the best predictor for higher quality interactions with woman, while woman rated sociability as the most important factor for men. A study was carried out by Walster et al in 1966 known as the ‘computer dance study’. 752 ‘freshers’ took part. First they were told to fill in a questionnaire, after which they were told that they had been allocated an ideal partner for the evening of the dance. These pairings however, had been made at random on basis of their physical attractiveness.

Students were asked how much they liked their date and if they wanted to see them again. They found that physical attractiveness was the single biggest predictor of how much each date had been liked by both male and the female participants. The desire of another date was determined by the attractiveness of the female, irrespective of the attractiveness of the male. When we see a person in the street we automatically rate that person’s attractiveness, whether we do it consciously or unconsciously.

The matching hypothesis is a popular psychological theory proposed by Walster et al. 1966, on what causes people to be attracted to their partners. It claims that people are more likely to form long- lasting relationships with people who are roughly equally as physically attractive as themselves. This investigation is going to replicate this study. ‘The matching phenomenon of physical attraction between marriage partners is stable within and across generations’, Price and Vandenberg 1979. Several studies have tested the matching hypothesis.

These studies generally show that people rated as being of high, low or average attractiveness tend to choose partners of a corresponding level of attractiveness. Several studies have been carried out that explore this field of interest for, Murstein (1972) who also supports the matching hypothesis did a study with photographs of the faces of ‘steady or engaged’ couples were compared with random couples. The real couples were consistently judged to be more similar to each other in levels of physical attractiveness than the random pairs.

Murstein summarised the findings of the study as: ‘Individuals with equal market value for physical attractiveness are more likely to associate in an intimate relationship such as engagement that individuals with disparate values. ‘ In simple terms, he found that people with roughly equal attractiveness are more likely to establish an intimate relationship, than if one person out of the couple was seen as being ‘unattractive’ and the other ‘attractive’. This investigation focuses on couples’ separate attractiveness and their attractiveness as a couple, analysing singular attractiveness and coupled attractiveness.

The aim of the study is to investigate the matching hypothesis and to test whether there is a positive correlation between the scores of perceived attractiveness of the male and female of the married couples and also as a couple. This investigation differs to previous studies carried out in this area of interest, as the photographs are not separated and the males and females are rated separately in terms of attractiveness. Participants were also asked to rate the photos as a couple. The hypothesis: There would be a positive correlation between participants perceived scores of attractiveness of photographs of married couples.

Null hypothesis: There would be no correlation between participants perceived scores of attractiveness of photographs of married couples. Method The method chosen for this study was a correlational research method, as a relationship between the two variables was being investigated. The co-variance is the male and female scores. All the photos used throughout the procedure are obtained from articles from a local newspaper. After the photos are obtained, record sheets will be produced on which the participants will rate the couples.

The photos used will be kept together (i. e. they will not be cut into separate male and female sections) for the simple reason that I am also asking the question; do the couples match each other? This would be impossible to do so if the photographs were separated. This also makes my investigation more original. The participants will then be presented with forms like the record sheet (appendix). Cause and analysis was the appropriate method for this investigation as it provides information on the strength of a relationship between specific variables.