Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Grush, Joseph E.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Interpersonal attraction; Personality


The present research was conducted to test motivational/reinforce- ment explanations (e.g., Byrne & Clore, 1967; Festinger, 1954; Nelson, 1966) of the positive relationship between attitude similarity and interpersonal attraction (Byrne, 1971). Specifically, two experiments were conducted to test the hypothesis that high nApproval subjects would show less attraction toward dissimilar others than would low nApproval subjects. In each experiment, attraction was operationalized by a verbal and a behavioral measure. In Experiment 1, subjects completed IJS ratings of a similar and a dissimilar other and apportioned 30 minutes of time to be spent between them. In one condition (high threat), the time was to be spent on a serious discussion of some importance to the subject. In a second condition (low threat), the time was to be spent exclusively in a casual conversation. Contrary to the hypothesis, no evidence was found for a nApproval by Threat interaction on the IJS measure, only main effects for Similarity and for nApproval were found. On the behavioral measure, only a main effect for Threat was obtained. In Experiment 2, subjects completed IJS ratings of one stranger and apportioned 30 minutes of time to be spent on either a serious discussion (high threat) or a clerical task (no threat) with that stranger. The stranger was similar for half the subjects and dissimilar for the other half. On the IJS measure, only a main effect for Similarity was found. On the behavioral measure, no significant effects of any kind were obtained. However, Experiment 2 did provide some post hoc evidence in accord with the general hypothesis. In order to understand why the experimental hypothesis was not confirmed, the following four possibilities were discussed: Problems with the (a) personality measure; (b) behavioral measure; (c) experimental conditions; and (d) theory. The discussion also offered possible directions for future research. These included: (a) looking at the moderating effects of several dispositional variables rather than one; (b) attempting to replicate Smith's (1972) interaction with the SAD variable using a behavioral measure; and (c) examining various ways the behavioral measure might be improved. It was concluded that further investigation is needed to test the validity and utility of motivational/reinforcement theories and to test the validity of the IJS as an attraction measure.


Includes bibliographical references.


72 pages




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