Sunday, October 28, 2007
This paper explores the numerous factors that influence the likelihood of two or more people becoming friends. The factors examined include; propinquity, reciprocity, similarity, attractiveness, peer and family acceptance, competence and self-disclosure. Examples from both research and everyday life are used to highlight how each of these factors impacts the possibility of a friendship forming.
The term friendship is used to describe the co-operative , supportive and caring behaviour between two or more people. A friendship is a type of committed relationship which involves shared awareness, esteem and affection (Foster, 2005). Friends welcome each other’s company and exhibit loyalty towards each other in a selfless manner. Research suggests that the nature of friendships in adulthood is often a critical determinant of personal happiness, hopefulness, self-esteem and self-image (Foster, 2005). As such, it is important to understand what factors influence the likelihood of becoming friends with another person. Research consistently indicates that there are numerous factors including, propinquity, reciprocity, similarity, attractiveness, peer and family acceptance, competence and self-disclosure, which all greatly impact the likelihood of a friendship forming. This paper will explore each of these influencing factors and how they impact on whether or not two people will become friends.
Firstly, propinquity simply refers to being near someone on a regular basis. Also known as the proximity or mere exposure theory, the propinquity theory of friendship assumes that individuals grow to like people whom they encounter or interact with on a regular basis (Festinger, Schachler & Back, 1950). A study conducted by Festinger, Schachler and Back (1950) demonstrates how propinquity or regular exposure to someone can increase the likelihood of becoming friends with that individual. The study was carried out on graduate students living in university campus dormitories. The aim of the study was to determine what factors led to attraction and friendship. They found that the strongest predictor of friendship was how closely two people lived to one another. The researchers found that participants were more likely to make friends with those that lived nearby then those that lived in other dormitories or even on other floors. Even in instances where on paper two participants seemed to be a good friendship match (i.e. more similar, shared more common interests, same age) proximity was still the stronger predictor of a friendship forming. See Appendix A for another everyday example of how propinquity influences the likelihood of becoming friends with another person.
A second factor that influences the likelihood of becoming friends with another person is reciprocity. Simply put, reciprocity refers to liking someone in return for liking you, or liking someone who likes you. Reciprocity is based on the theory that most individuals feel an obligation to return in kind what another individual has done for them (Parker & Seal, 1996). Thus, when an individual discovers another person likes them, they feel obligated to like them in return. A study conducted by Simpson, Miller and Walton (1993) provides evidence of reciprocity leading to the formation of a friendship. The study was conducted on 50 undergraduate students, who were each sent a letter by the researcher pretending to be a fellow classmate. Half of the letters simply contained a written profile of a potential friend, while the other half were friendship letters that all finished with the sentence: “I really like you and would greatly value your friendship” (Simpson, Miller & Walton, 1993). A few weeks after receiving the letters, all participants were invited to a social dance. Over the duration of the night, each participant was introduced to the author of the letter (who was actually a confederate). At the end of the dance participants were asked to rate to degree to which they liked the potential friend (i.e. the confederate) and whether or not they would consider pursuing a friendship.
The result indicated that a huge 76% of participants who received the friendship letters said that they would be willing to further pursue the friendship, while only 9% of those participants who received the profile said that they would be willing to further pursue a friendship (Simpson, Miller & Walton, 1993). These findings demonstrate just one example of how reciprocity can increase the likelihood of two people forming a friendship. For further examples see Appendix B.
Similarity is said to be the most important factor required in order to become friends with another person. Similarity, also termed interpersonal attraction, refers to the preferences individuals have for people similar to themselves (Parker & Seal, 1996). Research suggests that similarity breeds connection and liking, that is, similarity contributes not only to initial attraction but also to the development of close friendship bonds. Numerous studies (e.g. McPherson, Smith-Lovin & Cook, 2001; Ellis & Zarbatany, 2007; Parker & Seal, 1996) have found that the strongest predictor/influence of friendship is how similar two people are. Similarity includes: having similar attitudes, values, interests and beliefs, while also being of similar age, gender, socioeconomic status, education, and attractiveness (McPherson, Smith-Lovin & Cook, 2001). Thus, how similar two people are will influence how likely they are to become friends. See Appendix C for further examples.
A fourth influencing factor of friendship formation is attractiveness and/or beauty. This factor refers to how physically attractive an individual is perceived to be (Jackson, Hunter & Hodge, 1995). Research conducted by Feingold (1988) found that when all else is equal, most people show a substantial preference for attractive over unattractive others. Furthermore, people are much more likely to want to form friendships with attractive people compared with less attractive people.
Peer and family acceptance
The fifth factor, peer and family acceptance is moderately circumstantial in the degree to which it influences the formation of a friendship (i.e. it differs from person to person and from situation to situation). The major premise behind this theory is that in order for a friendship to fully develop into a committed relationship the potential friend has to be accepted (i.e. liked and respected) by other peers and family members. A study by Ellis and Zarbatany (2007) supported this premise when it found that only 13% of friendships that did not have peer and/or family acceptance developed into committed relationships. This suggests that peer and family acceptance is an important influence the likelihood of whether or not two people will become friends. Refer to Appendix D for an everyday example of the influence of peer and family acceptance.
Competence is yet another factor that researchers believe influences that likelihood of becoming friends with another person. Competence is a term used to describe how capable or able an individual is in doing something (Parker & Seal, 1996). In the instance of developing friendships, competence usually refers to an individual’s social competence, that is, an individual’s ability to demonstrate positive social behaviours, including sociability and pro-social behaviour (Parker & Seal, 1996). Social competence is possessing and using the ability to integrate thinking, feeling and behavior to achieve social tasks and outcomes valued by others (Jackson, Hunter & Hodge, 1995). Studies suggest that people are not only more attracted to those who possess social competence; they are also more likely to developed committed relationship, such as friendships with socially competent individuals.
Lastly, self-disclosure refers to sharing information with others. Though, self-disclosure is not simply providing information to another person. Instead, researchers define self-disclosure as sharing information with others that they would not normally know or discover. Self-disclosure involves risk and vulnerability on the part of the person sharing the information (Wicker, Thoms & McGrath, 2005). Self-disclosure performs several functions that all influence and increase the likelihood of one individual becoming friends with another. For example, it is a way of gaining information about another person. We want to be able to predict the thoughts and actions of people we know. Self-disclosure is one way to learn about how another person thinks and feels (Wicker, Thoms & McGrath, 2005). Once one person engages in self-disclosure, it is implied that the other person will also disclose personal information. This is known as the norm of reciprocity. Mutual disclosure deepens trust in the relationships and helps both people understand each other more (Wicker, Thoms & McGrath). Thus, research suggests that we are more likely to become friends with someone if both parties are able to self-disclose. See Appendix E for an everyday example of self-disclosure.
Overall, there are numerous factors that influence the likelihood of becoming friends with another person. These factors include, but are not limited to, propinquity, reciprocity, similarity, attractiveness, peer and family acceptance, social competence and self-disclosure. Research suggests that one or more of these factors needs to be present in order for a friendship to fully develop into a committed relationship. Some of these factors need to be present in order to be attracted to another person, such as propinquity, reciprocity, similarity and attractiveness. While other factors need to be present in order for the friendship to further develop and become a committed relationship, such as, peer and family acceptance, social competence and self-disclosure. While there are many more factors that can influence the likelihood of becoming friends with another person, the factors discussed in the paper outline some of the more commonly found factors that can either increase or decrease the chances of a friendship forming.
Link to Appendix F- Self-assessment
Ellis, W.E., & Zarbatany, L. (2007). Explaining friendship formation and friendship stability: The role of children’s and friends’ aggression and victimization. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 53, 79-104.
Feingold, A. (1988). Matching for attractiveness in romantic partners and same sex friends: A meta-analysis and theoretical critique. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 125-139.
Festinger, L., Schachler, S., & Back, K.W. (1950). Social pressures in informal groups: A study of human factors in housing. New York: Harper. Retrieved from http://hum.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/5/4/327%20on%2024%20October%202007
Foster, G. (2005) Making friends: A nonexperimental analysis of social pair formation. Human Relations, 58, 1443-1465.
Jackson, L.A., Hunter, J.E., & Hodge, C.N. (1995). Physical attractiveness and intellectual competence: A meta-analytic review. Social Psychology Quarterly, 58, 108-122.
McPherson, M., Smith-Lovin, L., & Cook, J.M. (2001). Birds of a feather: Homophily in social networks. Annual Reviews Social, 27, 415-444.
Parker, J.G., & Seal, J. (1996). Forming, losing, renewing and replacing friendships: Applying temporal parameters to the assessment of children’s friendship experiences. Child
Development, 67, 2248-2268.
Simpson, L. F., Miller, T. J., & Walton, L. (1993). Returning the favor: Reciprocity and friendships. Social Interaction & Behavior, 15, 147-159.
Wicker, F. E., Thoms, P., & McGrath, A. (2005). The influence of social-disclosure in committed relationships. Journal of Human Relations, 32, 1005-1028.
Example of Propinquity
One everyday example of how propinquity can influence the formation of friendships can be seen in my everyday life. Almost all of my friends became my friends simply because I was “exposed” to them on a regular basis. I developed and still maintain friendships formed in high school, I have friends from work, uni friends, family friends and friends of friends. Though, every single relationship formed from regular exposure to the person.
Another example of propinquity can be seen on those relationships where a person simply “grows on you”. This is the case for a lot of the friendships I started at work. As mean as it sounds, I would not have become friends with the people at work if I didn’t work with them on a regular basis. They are very different from the rest of my friends, and when I first started working there they were actually very annoying! But after seeing them day-in-day-out they all grew on me. And while they are all still very different to my other closer friends, I would definitely still consider them good friends.
Example of Reciprocity
Reciprocity refers to liking someone in return for liking you, or liking someone who likes you. Most of the everyday examples from my own life occurred in primary school, when fellow classmates came up to me in the playground and said they liked me and wanted to be my friend (we would remain best friends for the whole day).
But I have one demonstration of reciprocity leading to friendship formation that happened to a friend of mine, we will call her Mary and the potential friend Lucy. Mary played touch football with Lucy. Mary thought Lucy was annoying and a really bad football player and so she tended to ignore her at every game. Though, Lucy liked Mary (Lucy had just moved to Canberra and so had no friends or family) and after every game Lucy would help Mary pack up and invite Mary out for drinks. At first Mary was just plain rude and refused to go to drinks with Lucy and even referred to her as “her stalker” when talking about her with friends. But after Lucy had asked Mary to join her for drinks a few times, Mary began to feel bad for been so rude and not returning Lucy kindness. In line with the theory of reciprocity, Mary felt obligated to return Lucy’s kindness and so eventually she agreed to have drinks with her.
Long story short the two of them really “hit it off” and have been inseparable since (they have been best friends for seven years now). Mary still jokes with people that the thing she likes most about Lucy is that Lucy likes her.
Example of Similarity
I have so many examples of how similarity has influenced my friendships that I don’t have the time or space to list them all. Though, I will use examples from two of my friendships to demonstrate; the first friend is a very close friend of mine and we have been friends for over 10 years and the second friend I consider a friend, but not a close friend and we have known each other for 15 years.
Hopefully, when comparing the two you can see why I would be more likely to be close friends with the person in friendship one, who I am very similar to, then I would be with the person in friendship two, who I am quite different to.
1. We attended the same school, had the same subjects, obtained similar UAI’s and now we do the same degree
2. We are both females and we were born a month apart (same star sign too)
3. Both of similar height and not much difference in weight
4. We come from similar socioeconomic backgrounds and live 15 minutes away from each other
5. We like the same music, clothes ,movies etc. and we are attracted to similar people and share many friends
6. Both of us are Catholic and were raised by strict parents
7. I would say we have very similar beliefs and values
8. We talk in a similar way, do our hair the same and frequently come up with the same ideas
9. Both of us are non-smokers, who still live at home and we both come from big families
1. I like playing sport, exercising and been active, whereas she is a bit of a couch potato
2. I am good with my money and saving, she is hopeless and constantly broke
3. I have a fulltime job, she works whenever she feels like it
4. I like children and she can’t stand them
1. Attended the same primary school
2. We are both female and both Catholic
3. Both work fulltime time
4. Both like sport and exercising
1. She dropped out of school in year 10 and doesn’t believe in uni (or an education for that matter)
2. She is two years older
3. We come from different socioeconomic backgrounds and we raised very differently (she was raised in a single parent family and she was the only child)
4. She now lives out of home, in Sydney
5. In terms of looks she would be significantly bigger than me (not that that actually bothers me, consciously)
6. She smokes and drinks excessively
7. Terrible with money and holding down a job for more than a month
8. I would guess that we have very different beliefs and values and we probably want different things out of life.
9. We have very different tastes regarding EVERYTHING and because of this we constantly argue
I could be here forever talking about our differences just as I could be here forever talking about how similar my close friend and I are. Though, while I consider them both friends, I have found that the differences I have with the second friend have stopped us from developing a close committed relationship like the one I have with the first friend I described. This is just one everyday example of how similarity can influence whether or not we form a close bond with another person.
Example of Peer and family acceptance
For me, peer and family acceptance is one of the most important factors that influences whether or not I will become friends with another person. I value the opinions of my close friends, boyfriend and my family very much, so if they don’t like someone or have a bad feeling about them, I will not pursue a relationship with that person.
One example of this occurred two years ago. I met a girl through some work colleagues and we instantly “hit it off”. It was not so much that we were similar, we were actually quite opposite, but she was fun and we always had a great time together. When I introduced her to my partner for the first time he developed an intense dislike for her. I blew it off as jealously, but deep down it upset me that he didn’t like her.
The same thing happened when I introduced her to a few of my close friends. Some of my friends came up to me and said that while she was fun and appeared to be nice they had a bad feeling about her. After that, I started to see her less and less, and while it upset me that I wasn’t hanging out with her as much anymore, I valued my partners and peers opinions and their acceptance of her was extremely important to me.
It was my family’s disapproval that finally made me stop seeing her and delete her number. My parents thought that while she was a very nice person there was something a bit off about her. A month after I had deleted her number I heard through a friend that she had been arrested and charged with armed robbery (no joke!). Apparently there had also been another girl in the car with her who was also charged, though later the charges were dropped. It turned out that she had met the girl a month ago and the girl just thought that they were going on an innocent drive to get petrol. She later learnt that she was considered an accomplice, even though she knew nothing about what her new friend had been planning. When I think of all the times I went to the local servo with her it scares me.
This is a true story and it is also the reason why I rely on my friends and family’s acceptance of my new or potential friends. They have the ability to step back and look at situations and people objectively and can see things that I can’t. Furthermore, I just like knowing that I have my family and friend’s approval or acceptance.
Example of Self-disclosure
When forming my current relationships and friendships with others self-disclosure was a very important factor. For me this was for two reasons. Firstly, I am a very open person; I tell everyone and anyone everything about me, and it doesn’t bother me to tell all. Though, it does tend to bother me if I disclose information about myself to someone I consider a friend and then she or he discloses nothing about themselves. To me this comes across as a sign that they don’t trust me or don’t like me enough to share their thoughts and information about themselves. Luckily, most of my friends are similar to me and are very open people.
A second reason that self-disclosure is important to me is that it shows that the person isn’t afraid to commit to a relationship or friendship. Obviously, this is an important factor if you want to pursue a friendship with someone; you need to know they are committed too, to avoid wasting time and energy on a relationship that will go nowhere.
One example of self-disclosure from my everyday life occurred only a few months ago. I discovered that one of my close friends had lied about a lot of the information she had disclosed to me. Amongst other things she had lied about how her mother had died, why her boyfriend broke up with her and even where she had moved to Canberra from. While I felt sorry for her that she felt the need to lie to me, I couldn’t help but feel betrayed. I felt like she had made me disclose information about myself while never actually disclosing any real information in return. Needless to say, the friendship didn’t last very long.
Marking criteria 1 & 2- Theory & Research
The essay was well researched and applied numerous, relevant theories and studies to the argument. I would have liked to have had more information on other different factors not commonly examined but due to the word limit I was unable to do this. I read numerous articles but again due to the word limit I had to cull them done and use only the most relevant research and examples. Other than that, all other areas covered were well researched and applied the theories of friendship formation effectively.
It appears that relevant and recent theories and literature have been identified and understood. Though, perhaps more concise summaries would have allowed for more explanations and examples to be used which may have better demonstrated a thorough understanding of the topic.
Overall, a sound understanding of the research and theories relating to the factors that influence the likelihood of becoming friends with another person was evident throughout the paper. I believe that in the end I understood the topic area well which is reflected in my everyday examples of each factor.
Marking Criteria 3- Written Expression
APA style is consistent and accurate throughout the essay. The essay is clearly set out from the introduction, which restates the essay question ensuring clarity for the reader, and the main body of the essay follows through and flows in a logical manner. The text and colours used are easy to read and the blog does not contain bright colours and picture for the purpose of not drawing the reading attention away from the essay. Headings were also used to make it easier for the reader to follow and links were used throughout to enhance the overall readability and to make it easy to locate Appendices, reference list etc.
A Microsoft Word online readability test was conducted, the readability ease score for this paper was 44.5 where as the readability grade point score was 17.8. These scores indicate that the readability of this essay was roughly average.
The set out and style of the blog posting is simple to read and is clear and easy to follow, the layout also aids the blogs readability as it is not “busy” and quite user-friendly. Overall, the written expression is quite effective in getting the message across to the reader.
Marking Criteria 4- Online engagement
I signed up to my blog two question quite early on in the term. A poll was used to encourage blog readers to interact and become involved in the planning process, unfortunately not many blog readers voted, thus, it may have been useful to try another approach in order to encourage blog participation.
All ideas and brainstorms were posted early on in the term which was effective in persuading others to comment, though again, different approaches may have been beneficial in attracting more bloggers to leave comments, thoughts and opinions.
Adding thoughts, questions and ideas to the discussion pages may have also increased blog participation from others or even having more ‘fun’ , interactive blog postings, such as experiments, short films, television ads, articles etc., may have boosted blog participation.
Numerous comments were left on other bloggers pages, though in most cases this did not lead to them leaving comments or responding to comments left. Again, more commenting could have been done in the first instance to encourage blog participation.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Just another interesting article I came across while researching for blog 2. It talks about the "types" of friendships/relationships that we commonly form and what factors commonly influence whether or not we will form a friendship/relationship with another person.
Firstly, what are the different "types" of friendships
1. Acquaintances: people we know and recognise.
2. Neighbours: people we live nearby. Neighbours often participate in exchange relationships -- feeding cats and babysitting. I wonder if flatmates should be lumped in here too. Or perhaps they're more like co-workers.
3. Confederates: an unequal pair, a side-kick etc.
4. Pals: people who share an activity, whether spectators or participants. If the activity disappears, the friendship may disappear too. Think drinking buddies, footy pals etc.
5. Close kin: family. Family are not necessarily all friends of course, but they can be, and I think there is a great range in the degree of the relationship.
6. Co-workers: the people you work with may see more of you than anybody else, and inevitably they get to know you in some ways. Often we are distant from the people we work with so that they may know us very well in limited ways and not at all in others. We can have co-workers who happen to be friends or friends who happen to be co-workers. The best way to tell which we have is by thinking about what would happen if one of us switched jobs. Would the friendship survive?
7. Friends: the category that transcends the others, soul mates.
Next, what it takes to form a friendship:
8. Proximity: this one's fairly obvious. You need some form of contact, perhaps physical, but with the Internet, proximity can span the globe now. The point of this factor is that who you are "near" determines the pool you can draw your friends from. It may be, for example, that most of your friends have come about through your workplace connections, or from your university days.
9. Similarity: homophily, or a preference for people of similar gender, marital status, class, education, age, and so forth, characterises most friendships. But of course in society we tend to encounter similar people anyway (for example the people we work with probably have a similar age and level of education, while the people we live alongside are probably of similar class and income).
10. Reciprocal liking: Some form of attraction is required to encourage the investment that the development of a friendship requires.
11. Self-disclosure: being open about your thoughts, life, desires, failures, concerns, and successes. This is the one men traditionally find troublesome.
As always... COMMENTS WELCOME
Saturday, October 20, 2007
I came across this article while researching for my blog. It was called 5 Ways to Develop Friendships That Really Count. I am thinking of trying to integrate it into my essay, but i thought i would post it here first to get some of your opinions.
So please let me know if you agree or disagree or if anything else should be added or explored. As always, all comments (good and bad) are welcome.
Developing Friendships that count
Friend is such a powerful word that holds so many different meanings: confidant, collaborator, instigator, and the person who helps carry you through difficult experiences and celebrates and enriches the good ones.
As said by Emily Dickinson, “My friends are my estate.”
1) Be Open Minded
One of the keys to developing a close friendship with someone is to be accepting of the other person by making an effort to understand where they are coming from. Since we each have a different set of beliefs and values and live life in our own unique way, we can always learn something of value from our friends.
Being open minded requires that we drop our judgements in favour of understanding. Although you may not agree with someone or their point of view, you can always make an effort to understand them.
2) Be a Good Listener
This is a skill few people have developed well. One thing we all need to remember is that we have two ears that were meant for listening. Too often we are too busy talking or thinking up our response, that we don’t truly listen to what someone else is really saying.
When we actively listen to someone else, we make that person feel important and special – two ingredients to maintaining a healthy friendship.
3) Be Trustworthy
Trust is a key ingredient to any strong and healthy relationship. When we keep confidences, are impeccable with our word and walk our talk, we send others the message that we are reliable, dependable and ultimately trustworthy.
Speak with integrity and only say what you mean. Avoid gossip or talking about others and always do what you say. Taking these actions will speak loudly to others that you are a trustworthy and responsible friend.
4) Be Yourself
One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and others is you – the authentic YOU. There is only one of you in this world, complete with your own gifts, talents and treasures. Your uniqueness is what makes you special and what others will seek out.
When you are honest with yourself, you can be honest with others. By being authentic, you will show your friends that you are not afraid to be who you are and in part will give them permission to be fully who they are.
5) Set Limits
As with anything in life, it is important to set limits as to what you will and will not accept in your life. This may mean ending a negative conversation with a friend or saying ‘no.’ Ultimately, setting limits is an act of self-respect.
When you set limits with friends, you are sending a loud message that you will not tolerate things that are not aligned with your life or your spirit. By openly respecting yourself, others will gain a deeper respect for you.
Thanks guys, happy blogging x
Sunday, October 14, 2007
After receiving a comment from James on my blog early last week (please see link), i have spent the remainder of the week researching for other factors that may influence the likelihood of someone becoming friends with another person. So far, besides findings similar to those i have already posted, i haven't been able to find much....
...So, i have decided to put it out there to all of you guys.... off the top of your head what factors do you think influence the likelihood of becoming friends with another person?? I am not asking for much detail or any research, just your own opinion would be much appreciated... and no answer will be considered wrong or stupid : )
Now, with that out of the way, here is one of the many interesting things i found this week. Below is a definition of friendship, so not one of the most interesting or exciting things i could have published, but it's gotta be done. I have changed some of the wording around, but let me know if you think that it sums up what you think friendship is:
Friendship is a term used to describe the co-operative and supportive behaviour between two or more humans. The term connotes a relationship which involves mutual knowledge, esteem, and affection. Friends will welcome each other's company and exhibit loyalty towards each other, often to the point of altruism. Their tastes will usually be similar and may converge, and they will share enjoyable activities. They will also engage in mutually helping behaviour, such as exchange of advice and the sharing of hardship. A friend is someone who may often demonstrate reciprocating and reflective behaviours. Yet for many, friendship is nothing more than the trust that someone or something will not harm them.
Value that is found in friendships is often the result of a friend demonstrating on a consistent basis:
· the tendency to desire what is best for the other,
· sympathy and empathy,
· honesty, perhaps in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth and,
· mutual understanding.
This definition was retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friendship
I am not really a big fan of wikipedia normally, but i thought this definition was actually alright. I will be looking for others throughout the week, so i will keep you posted.
I will also post some of my other more interesting research findings here shortly (if i post them all now they will all be considered one large post... i have to think of contribution marks here :) ) So, i will be talking to you all again soon.
Oh, and thank you in advance to all those that leave a comment regarding my question.. much appreciated.
Good luck xx
Sunday, October 7, 2007
I thought that it was about time that I got my act together and started posting some of my ideas for blog 2.
My blog 2 topic is: What factors influence the likelihood of becoming friends with another person? Discuss in relation to your own relationships and friendships
So, this got me to thinking, why am I friends with certain people? What attracted me to those people?and What factors influenced whether or not a liked a certain person? I went over the lecture notes and text book readings and split everything up under some of the major theories of attraction and relationships:
Propinquity- mere exposure, proximity, or how close and how often we are exposed to certain others.
Well, a large majority of my relationships (if not all) may be largely influenced by propinquity. I am “exposed” to all of friends on a regular basis (obviously- they are my friends after all). The reason for forming the majority of these relationships was because I either went to school with them, worked with them, go to uni with them, they are a friend of a friend or friend of the family… the list goes on and on. But in all cases, I was exposed to these people on a regular basis before the friendship started. I lost contact with those friends that moved away after school or started working full time and though I would still consider them a friend, I haven’t really spoken to them in 4 or 5 years. So, I am guessing that nearly all of my relationships are influenced by this theory of propinquity.
One story comes to mind when I think of this- I met my current boyfriend (who I consider to also be a friend) through a friend and I absolutely hated him, I thought he was arrogant and annoying and he thought he was so funny- needless to say, I wasn’t impressed. But, he really liked me, so he kept turning up at parties I went to, dinners with my friends etc. The more I got to know him, the more I liked him, though I never admitted it to him (treat ‘em mean to keep ‘em keen :) ). In the end, I accepted an invitation from him to go on a date. On our first date I found out he lived four doors away from my house (no joke- I had never seen him before in my life). Long story short, we are still together, though I think that if he wasn’t so set on stalking me : ) to try and win me over I would have never spoken to him ever again, and I would only remember him as that rude guy I met at dinner one time.
Reciprocity- Liking someone who already likes you
See story above. I can’t remember ever really liking someone who didn’t like me back- so I guess I am either lucky or naïve, i met alot of my friends through friends, and we normally hit it off straight away. But I do remember in high school disliking a girl who was in my group of friends. Long story short, she liked me and was always trying to be nice to me (I guess she sensed I didn’t like her that much), in the end she wore me down and to this day we are still great friends. Again, my relationships are influenced by yet another theory of social psych- reciprocity.
Similarity- attitudes, values, interests, beliefs, religion, SES, age, gender etc.
This whole ‘birds of a feather flock together’ theory never really sat well with me. I think it is because I like to think of myself as unique and different, though when it comes down to it- I really am very similar to my friends. The majority of my close friends are girls, most are catholic and went to a private school, we are all of very similar SES and age, we all have the same interests, most go to uni and we are all roughly the same in levels of IQ. In fact, thinking about it now, a lot of us are like mini clones of each other (so scary). We talk the same, dress the same, like the same foods, like the same people etc. Clearly, I am attracted to people similar to myself- another social psych theory to tick off my list. And here I was thinking that I was unique!!!
Beauty/Matching Hypothesis- the proposition that people tend to pair up with others who are equally attractive
Let’s not go into how beautiful I think I am- I mean how beautiful my friends are :)
Familiarity breeds liking- familiarity and repeated exposure can sometimes make you like someone more (or less if you think they are annoying)
I discussed a lot of this in point 1
That is as far as I have gotten at this stage. Please let me know if there are any other theories you would like me to explore… I am open to all suggestions. I am also interested in any examples that you may have from your own relationships that deviate from these theories of social attraction.
Talk again soon!
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Stereotypes exist to enable people to sort through complex environments and situations in an easy, effective manner. The formation of stereotypes commonly occurs through ignorance. That is, when individuals know little about a situation or environment they look for easy ways to fill in the knowledge gaps. This is done through processes such as categorisation, social identity and social learning. Once formed a stereotype is maintained through illusory correlations, selective attention or conformation bias and sub-categorisation and thereafter is very resistant to change. This paper examines the theories as to why individuals stereotype through analysing the stereotype that aboriginal’s are “drunks on the dole”. While this negative stereotype has lead to unjustified discrimination and prejudice, research suggests that in a large majority of cases individuals cannot really ‘help’ using, forming and maintaining stereotypes.
Word Count: 133
Stereotypes are the characteristics attributed to people based on their membership or perceived membership in a group (Westen, Burton & Kowalski, 2006). They are generalised views that individuals hold about particular groups of people and the belief that all members of a particular group share common traits or behaviours. While the word ‘stereotype’ is often accompanied by negative connotations, stereotypes can be both positive and negative (Westen, Burton & Kowalski, 2006). This paper will focus on a negative stereotype commonly held in Australian society regarding Indigenous Australians. It will explore reasons and theories as to why individuals use stereotypes, how stereotypes are formed and maintained and lastly how and if stereotypes can be changed. Figure 1 presents a concept map depicting the authors understanding of the socio-psychological variables involved with stereotyping.
Indigenous Australians, more commonly referred to as Aborigines, have long been subjected to prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping. One only has to type the words “Australian Aboriginal” into any internet search engine to find articles and stories portraying negative stereotypes and generalisations held about the Australian minority group. Among them is the stereotype that Aboriginals are “drunks on the dole”. Over the last 5 to 10 years, this stereotype has grown and lead to mass prejudice and discrimination against aboriginal people (Heath & Preston, 1998).
The main suggestion behind this stereotype is that all aboriginals drink excessively and ‘live off welfare’ instead of getting ‘proper’ jobs. Sadly, this stereotype is held by an unsettlingly high number of Australians (Heath & Preston, 1998). Though, research suggests majority groups in Australia who currently hold this stereotype are not completely at fault in doing so. In order to completely understand why and how this stereotype came to exist, one must understand why individuals use stereotypes, how they are formed and how they are maintained.
Largely theorist agree that stereotypes exist as a way for the human mind to deal with an increasingly complicated and fast moving environment in an efficient manner (Macrae, Hewstone & Griffiths, 1993). Stereotypes are the mental short cuts that help ensure that human beings do not have to repeatedly recognise and analyse all aspects in each person, animal, event or situation (Macrae, Hewstone & Griffiths, 1993). Thus, stereotypes can be very functional in allowing us to predict some of what will happen in particular situations. Stemming from this two reasons have been suggested as to why stereotypes exist. Firstly, human beings use stereotypes to minimise information processing. As previously mentioned, stereotypes can be seen as energy-saving devices that enable humans to reduce the amount of processing needed when they meet or think about people (Crook & McLean, 2005). Stereotyping enables people to simplify experience and allows individuals to categorise others quickly and effortlessly (Westen, Burton & Kowalski, 2006)
Secondly, stereotypes exist to serve as a social function. Research suggests that stereotypes aid humans in drawing distinctions between groups or ‘us’ and ‘them’ (Crook & McLean, 2005). Perhaps more prominent Century’s ago, stereotypes enable humans to readily identify or recognise those individuals not from their own group that may pose a threat. This ability to stereotype or draw distinctions aided survival and lead humans to believe that they would be safest or “best off” when with members of their own group (Crook & McLean, 2005). While more obvious Century’s ago, Crook and McLean note that stereotyping does exist to serve the same social function today as it did hundreds of years ago, that is, it exists to enable individuals to easily recognise those who belong to their own group and those who do not (Crook & McLean, 2005).
Most commonly, stereotypes appear to form through ignorance, when individuals have little contact with other groups they consider to be dissimilar, thus have no information about them, and attempt to fill the gap by forming stereotypes (Bothwell, Brigham & Malpass, 1989). One major factor in the formation of stereotyping is the tendency individuals have to perceive all members of the ‘out-group’ as the same; this is known as categorisation (Bothwell, Brigham & Malpass, 1989). Categorisation stems from the theory that stereotypes are schemas, or mental short cuts, and involve a person labelling and treating members of out-group’s they know little about as the same (Bothwell, Brigham & Malpass, 1989). Individuals tend to group others outside of their social group in collections of similar characteristics. For example, many Australians tend to categorise or group aboriginals under one large label “aborigine”. They believe that all aborigines are the same and ignore factors such as tribe, culture, colour and origin, and other such differences that can in fact make aboriginals very diverse. Hence, when a stereotype about one aborigine arises, humans tend to assign this stereotype to others they have categorised as “aborigine”.
Similarly, the social identity theory is another theory that suggests stereotypes are formed through in-group out-group perceptions. The theory assumes that people are motivated to evaluate their own group positively, thereby enhancing or maintaining a positive sense of their social self (Verkuyten & de Wolf, 2007; Tajfel & Turner, 1986 as cited in Doise, 1988). The major findings that stem from the social identity theory are that stereotypes emerge from two biases. Firstly, in-group bias refers to the preferential treatment individuals give to those they perceive to be members of their own groups (Ostrom & Sedikidas, 1992). It was found that individuals were less likely to negatively stereotype members of their own group, but more likely to positively stereotype their members (e.g. smarter, more handsome etc.) (Verkuyten & de Wolf, 2007).
The second bias is the out-group homogeneity bias. This bias is similar to categorisation and suggests that individuals see members of their own group as being relatively more varied than members of other groups (Hamilton, 1976). Thus, like categorisation, this biases perceptions of diversity. Hence, the actions of one individual will lead to the belief that all individuals in that group are similar.
A third popular theory as to how stereotypes are formed is the social learning theory. Simply put, this theory assumes that stereotypes are directly learnt from influential others. These influential others are usually parents, peers, the media, religious leader, teachers and members of one’s family (Verkuyten & de Wolf, 2007). A recent study (Verkuyten & de Wolf, 2007) supported this theory when it found that groups tend to develop shared understandings of the social world. The researchers noted that while some individuals may directly experience behaviours linked to a specific stereotype, in most cases individuals will form stereotypes even if they have never themselves experienced or seen evidence of this stereotype, simply because it is a belief held by their group or it is learned through social interactions within their group. These findings suggest that individuals learn from and are influenced by stereotypical attitudes held by other members of their group.
Researchers have long recognised that individuals tend to maintain rather than change their stereotypes despite receiving evidence against them (Hicklin & Wedell, 2007). Most commonly, stereotypes are maintained through illusory correlations, selective attention and sub-categorisation.
Illusory correlation is the phenomenon of seeing the relationship one expects to see even when no such relationship exists (Hicklin & Wedell, 2007). For example, an individual who holds the stereotype that all aboriginals are on the “dole” sees an aboriginal man walking down the street on dole collection day. The illusory correlation phenomenon would suggest that this individual would most likely to see a relationship between the aboriginal man walking down the street and dole day and conclude that the man must be on his way to collect his dole, even though there is no evidence of the relationship. In this sense, the illusory correlation phenomenon acts to confirm previously held stereotypes, even when no such evidence exists (Hicklin & Wedell, 2007). Thus, the stereotype is maintained or strengthened every time an individual identifies a relationship between the group and the stereotypical behaviour.
Similarly, selective attention involves attending to stereotype relevant information only. One of the key factors that stems from the selective attention theory is confirmation bias (Jonas, Schulz-Hardt, Frey & Thelen, 2001). Confirmation bias is a tendency to search for or interpret new information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions and avoid information and interpretations which contradict prior beliefs (Jonas, Schulz-Hardt, Frey & Thelen, 2001). For example, a study by Heath and Preston (1998) found that when participants holding the stereotype that aboriginals drunk more alcohol then non-aboriginals read fictitious statistic’s that stated 7 out of 10 aboriginals and 8 out of 10 non- aboriginals consume alcohol excessively, they were more likely to view the alcohol consumption of aboriginals as negative and more likely to ignore or make excuses for the alcohol consumption of the non-aboriginals (Heath & Preston, 1998). Thus, in the face of disconfirming evidence, the participants made justifications or only attended to stereotype relevant behaviour in order to confirm and maintain the stereotype.
A third mechanism that individuals and groups use to allow for stereotype maintenance in the face of disconfirming evidence is sub-categorisation (Kunda & Oleson, 1998). Seta and Seta (1993) proposed that people often generate compensatory expectations when confronted with stereotypically inconsistent events. The researchers found that when participants were faced with extreme behavioural inconsistency, they attempted to salvage the stereotype by sub-categorising those members who did not conform to the stereotype (Seta & Seta, 1993). In this sense, participants made an “exception to the rule”, that is, they did not change the stereotype and they did not mentally remove the individual from the group, rather they placed the “deviant” group member in a separate category within the group as a means of maintaining their stereotype (Kunda & Oleson, 1998).
Researchers have acknowledged that in some cases stereotypes can change, though it is also recognised that this is a rare occurrence and stereotypes, once formed, are commonly resistant to change. The contact hypothesis (Allport, 1954 as cited in van Dick et al., 2004) demonstrated one way in which stereotypes can be changed. The hypothesis suggests that regular contact or interactions between members of different group’s decreases negative stereotypes, providing the interaction is passive and occurs under favourable conditions. Four optimal contact conditions are outlined to be fundamental in the reduction of stereotypes; equal status, common goals, cooperation and support of authorities and other group members (Allport, 1954 as cited in van Dick et al., 2004). The research suggests that through regular contact with a group, under favourable conditions, individuals can learn to change or override stereotypes that they hold about that particular group. Though, other researchers suggest that the evidence is still highly controversial and open to much interpretation and that stereotypes are more likely to be maintained then changed (van Dick et al., 2004).
Unfortunately, it would appear that stereotypes are challenging to change. They exist to enable people to sort through complex environments and situations in an easy, effective manner. The formation of stereotypes commonly occurs through ignorance. That is, when individuals know little about a situation or environment they look for easy ways to fill in the knowledge gaps. This is done through processes such as categorisation, social identity and social learning. Once formed a stereotype is maintained through illusory correlations, selective attention or confirmation bias and sub-categorisation and thereafter is very resistant to change. Thus, in the instance of the stereotype that aboriginal’s are “drunks on the dole” the evidence appears to suggest that because this stereotype has already been formed, those who hold it will be more likely to try maintain it rather than change it. The research also suggests that due to the fact that individuals use and form stereotypes to serve as social functions and mental short-cuts that simplify the world, it is not always possible for an individual to not stereotype. Therefore, regrettably, aboriginals may be subjected to prejudice and discrimination stemming from stereotypes for many more years to come.
Word Count: 1639
Link to Reference List
Link to Appendix A
Bothweel, R.K., Brigham, J.C., & Malpass, R.S. (1989). Cross-racial identification. Personality and Social Psychology, 15, 19-25.
Crook, S., & McLean, C. (2005). Stereotypes and social function: How stereotyping aids survival. Journal of Social Psychology and Human Behavior, 23, 142-156.
Doise, W. (1988). Individual and social identities in intergroup relations. European Journal of Social Psychology, 18, 99-111.
Hamilton, D.L. (1976). Cognitive bias in the perception of social groups. Cognition and Social Behavior, 16, 112-129.
Heath, G.P., & Preston, B. (1998). Overcoming prejudice and discrimination in the workplace: Indigenous Australians and issues of unemployment. Journal of Human Resource Management, 82, 115-136.
Hicklin, S.K., & Wedell, D.H. (2007). Learning group differences: Implications for contrast and assimilation in stereotyping. Social Cognition, 25, 410-454.
Jonas, E., Schula-Hardt, S., Frey, D., & Thelen, N. (2001). Confirmation bias in sequential information search after preliminary decisions: An expansion of dissonance theoretical research on selective exposure to information. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 557-571.
Kunda, Z., & Oleson, K. (1995). Maintaining Stereotypes in the face of disconfirmation: Constructing grounds for sub-typing deviants. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 565-579.
Macrae, C.N., Hewstone, M., & Griffiths, R.J. (1993). Processing load and memory for stereotype-based information. European Journal of Social Psychology, 23, 77-87.
Ostrom, T. M., & Sedikides, C. (1992). The outgroup homogeneity effect in natural and minimal groups. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 536-552.
Seta, C.E., Seta, J.J., & Goodman, R.C. (1998). Expectations: Schema maintenance through compensation. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 20, 285-291.
Van Dick, R., Wagner, U., Pettigrew, T.F., Christ, O., Wolf, C., Petzel, T., Smith Castro, V., & Jackson, J.S. (2004). Role of perceived importance in intergroup contact. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 211-227.
Verkuyten, M., & De Wolf, A. (2007). Ethnic minority identity and group context: Self-descriptions, acculturation attitudes and group evaluations in an intra- and intergroup situation. European Journal of Social Psychology, 32, 781–800.
Westen, D., Burton, L., & Kowalski, R. (2006). Psychology: Australian and New Zealand Edition. Milton, Queensland: John Wiley & Sons.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Well, I finally worked out how to post my concept map, after three long days of signing up to almost every single concept mapping site, I worked it out. I believe that mine will be a little different to others though....
... for starters, if you can't see it (as in it is not there at all) try going to the Blog Archives on the side and clicking on 2007 or August. For some reason it disappears from time to time, though i think i have fixed the problem for now, please let me know if it is disappearing again.
Secondly, it only comes up as a small map that is next to impossible to read, but if you click on the map itself it will expand to full size. I would love any feedback on it's readability and presentation.
Lastly, please note that this map only depicts MY understanding of stereotypes... it was created before any research was done (but i may have gotten a little help from the lecture).
And, just so you know what my map is all about here is my blog question:
...consider how this stereotype could be changed and present a concept map depicting your understanding of the socio-psychological variables involved.
Any problems or comments, please let me know.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Thank you to all those who voted on my Blog. After much consideration I have decided to research the stereotypes that Australians hold about aboriginals or indigenous Australians. There is one stereotype in particular that i have stumbled across quite a lot throughout my research which is the stereotypes that all aboriginals are "drunks on the dole".
I should have a concept map up soon and hopefully a draft essay will follow shortly after, but at this stage i am looking for any suggestions or comments you may have regarding this harsh and very negative stereotype.
Look forward to hearing from you
Sunday, July 29, 2007
At this point in time I am still undecided about which minority group in Australia to research, but please feel free to vote on this blog if you would like to see more information about a stereotype commonly held about a particular minority group.
So while I am still undecided about some things, I did start some research on stereotypes in Australia in general, only to discover that nearly every site I looked at was filled with stereotypes about Australians, not really stereotypes Australians have about fellow Australians. I came across the whole, beer drinking, flannelette shirt wearing, laid back, and swearing, typical Aussie bloke. Also, the boomerang wilding, cork-screw-hat wearing, kangaroo riding, crocodile wrestling, beer drinking (yes, the beer drinking stereotype is EVERYWHERE), dingo befriending, Aussie bush male. There were also many other stereotypes and stereotypical sayings such as; “G’Day Mate, how ya goin?”, “Me an the missus goin down the pub”, “Bloody hell!”, “strewth”, “you ripper!”, “I’ll be buggered”, “gorblimey” and the list goes on and on and on.
There were also all the activities and ‘things’ that ‘all Australians’ (apparently) engage in on a daily basis, such as,
· Backyard cricket,
· Eating meat pies,
· Having BBQ’s,
· Owning a blue healer,
· Driving utes,
· Drinking beer (Yes, again with the beer)
· Wearing thongs and stubbies,
· Going to the pub
· Etc, etc, etc
So, while my original aim was to discover what stereotypes exist among Australians I just couldn’t get past the fact that there were so many Aussie stereotypes out there. I have only listed a very small few of the commonly found stereotypes here, but all you have to do is type typical Aussie into any search engine and you will find numerous results similar to mine.
I hope to get back on my blog next week with a better idea of what Australian minority group I want to research for my first blog and also some info about stereotypes that exist within our Australian culture. In the meantime I would appreciate any input you may have about this subject.
Thank you and good luck!
P.S. I have added two TV ads (hopefully they work!) to my blog that demonstrate some more commonly found Australian stereotypes... Let me know what you think or if you can relate to any of the stereotypes shown.