Do Opposites Attract?


Psychologist Donn Byrne states in this post, “we are twice as likely to be attracted to someone when we agree on six out of 10 issues than we are with someone who we only agree with on three out of 10 issues”. This would get down to what we consider to be an ‘issue’.

Starting from scratch in a relationship, there may be no real major issues that arise in our conversations or opinions, because we are busy finding sameness to build rapport because there is attraction. If one has a difference of opinion on politics or religion, these days we might find this refreshing and not an ‘issue’. Are we going to ask the right questions when it comes to decisions and choices relating to partner choices? How do we build our relationships amongst issues? Are our issues really tied to values? Are our values the real things that matter when it comes to relationships?
The other interesting aspect of this whole topic is the area of Myths about psychology – where this may be in the myth category, but overiding that is the use of the words (‘opposite’ and ‘issue’) which is where NLP helps us to refine the meaning that we derive from words.

In NLP, using the precision model of communication, we get very precise with language. For these statements we would well ask many of these questions: When we talk about the cultural expression: opposites attract – what do we really mean by “opposite”? Opposite on what level? Opposite of what sepcifically? What is attract? Attraction of what to what? Attract or catch attention?

Let us take a look at the article: When it comes to love, we’re ambivalent about “opposites attract”. Christie Nicholson from http://www.scientificamerican.com reports.

Back in college astronomy class, I sat behind a guy who wore a T-shirt with this on the back: ” The best thing about the opposite sex is just how opposite they are.”

It’s not just a rule in physics. There’s a strong cultural expression: opposites attract. Think Harold and Maude, Pretty Woman, It Happened One Night—Hollywood has long known the lure of antitheses in love.

But real research busts this myth.

Play the 1 minute Podcast here: podcast_100731.mp3 (Busting the myth that opposites attract)

Psychologists map out such evidence in a new book: 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior by Scott O. Lilienfeld, Steven Jay Lynn, John Ruscio, and Barry L. Beyerstein. Copyright © 2010 by Scott O. Lilienfeld, Steven Jay Lynn, John Ruscio, and Barry L. Beyerstein.
See some opinions, and reviews on the same topic.

Psychologist Donn Byrne has found that we are twice as likely to be attracted to someone when we agree on six out of 10 issues than we are with someone who we only agree with on three out of 10 issues.

To be sure, the appeal of shared interests may be specific to long-term relationships.

A 2006 University of Pennsylvania study of speed dating found that daters said they wanted someone who had a similar background in education, religion, economic status and shared personality traits. Yet when they were in the midst of the one-minute date, they made choices based on more immediate cues like physical attraction. In the speed-dating environment—a bar surrounded by singles, under the pressure of a ticking clock—daters made choices based on short-term mating criteria that were more likely to lead to fast hook-ups, not necessarily long-lived love.

So if it’s the long haul you’re searching for, best look beyond the cute face and hot body, and see if you can carry the conversation beyond 60 seconds.

Christie Nicholson http://www.scientificamerican.com


From WebMD By Jean Lawrence,


It depends what you mean by “opposite.” “I believe unresolved patterns attract,” says Paul Cutright, author of You’re Never Upset For The Reason You Think: The Cure For The Common Upset. Cutright, along with his wife Layne, run the Center for Enlightened Partnerships in Las Vegas.

“What most people call falling in love is really falling in pattern… Relationships are about getting our own needs met, often on an unconscious basis. In other words, we try to find someone who is complementary to us and can help us learn, heal, and grow.”

In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in July of 2003, researchers quizzed 978 heterosexual residents of Ithaca, N.Y., between the ages of 18 and 24. First, the participants rated the importance of 10 attributes of a long-term partner, and then rated themselves on the same scale. When the results were tallied, self-perception was more likely to match mate perception.

Cognitive processes underlying human mate choice: The relationship between self-perception and mate preference in Western society. Peter M. Buston and Stephen T. Emlen, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, Communicated by Thomas Eisner, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, May 28, 2003 (received for review March 14, 2003)

This study tested two hypotheses concerning the cognitive processes underlying human mate choice in Western society: (i) mate preference is conditional in that the selectivity of individuals’ mate preference is based on their perception of themselves as long-term partners, and (ii) the decision rule governing such conditional mate preference is based on translating perception of oneself on a given attribute into a comparable selectivity of preference for the same attribute in a mate. Both hypotheses were supported. A two-part questionnaire was completed by 978 heterosexual residents of Ithaca, New York, aged 18–24; they first rated the importance they placed on 10 attributes in a long-term partner and then rated their perception of themselves on those same attributes. Both women and men who rated themselves highly were significantly more selective in their mate preference. When the 10 attributes were grouped into four evolutionarily relevant categories (indicative of wealth and status, family commitment, physical appearance, and sexual fidelity), the greatest amount of variation in the selectivity of mate preference in each category was explained by self-perception in the same category of attributes. We conclude that, in Western society, humans use neither an “opposites-attract” nor a “reproductive-potentials-attract” decision rule in their choice of long-term partners but rather a “likes-attract” rule based on a preference for partners who are similar to themselves across a number of characteristics.

This conclusion was: “In Western society, humans use neither an ‘opposites-attract’ nor a ‘reproductive-potentials-attract’ rule in their choice of long-term partners, but rather a ‘likes-attract’ rule based on a preference for partners who are similar to themselves across a number of characteristics.”

See also ‘Hookups’ Can Turn Into Meaningful Relationships, Study Suggests


Influences from Movies and Music


Are we influenced by movies and the unconscious attention we may or may not have to music? I think we are influenced, but we also may have a different belief. When we reference conventional wisdom (movies/music/tv) on the subject, we might find ourselves in a dilemna because they are selling entertainment, not guidance or wisdom. The words by Oliver Leiber of the song “Opposites Attract”recorded by Paula Abdul “She likes it neat, And he makes a mess” may not work out in real life. “Opposites Attract” is a song recorded by Paula Abdul, featured on her debut album Forever Your Girl. It was written and produced by Oliver Leiber, who came up with the title after browsing a bookstore.
Opposites Attract Lyrics, by Artist: Paula Abdul

We come together
Cuz opposites attract
And you know-it ain’t fiction
Just a natural fact
We come together
Cuz opposites attract

Who’d a thought we could be lovers
She makes the bed
And steals the covers
She likes it neat
And he makes a mess
I take it easy


Top 10 Opposites Attract Movies from About.com for more on the lighter side of the question of do Opposites Attract?.
In the romantic comedy ”Along Came Polly,” control freak Reuben (Ben Stiller) meets free spirit Polly (Jennifer Aniston). The same website has an interesting insight into whether opposites attract: The old adage of opposites attract has some truth to it. We often look for someone to sort of complete ourselves. Express your expectations and feelings. It is not fair to expect our spouses to change, and in reality, most of us really don’t want that change to occur. It can be fun to list what attracted you to one another when you first met, and what you continue to appreciate in one another…..

Falling in Love Only Takes About a Fifth of a Second, Research Reveals ScienceDaily (Oct. 25, 2010) — A new meta-analysis study conducted by Syracuse University Professor Stephanie Ortigue reveals falling in love can elicit not only the same euphoric feeling as using cocaine, but also affects intellectual areas of the brain. Researchers also found falling in love only takes about a fifth of a second. Results from Ortigue’s team revealed when a person falls in love, 12 areas of the brain work in tandem to release euphoria-inducing chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline and vasopression. The love feeling also affects sophisticated cognitive functions, such as mental representation, metaphors and body image.

The findings raise the question: “Does the heart fall in love, or the brain?” …continue reading this article
Stephanie Ortigue, Francesco Bianchi-Demicheli, Nisa Patel, Chris Frum, James W. Lewis. Neuroimaging of Love: fMRI Meta-Analysis Evidence toward New Perspectives in Sexual Medicine. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2010; DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2010.01999.x

What do I think?

Rapport building is not Opposite or Sameness

It would be too general to say that Rapport is doing the opposite or the same and that atrraction is related to either. They are different aspects of the relationship in question. Dictionaries describe rapport as affinity, agreement, bond, compatibility, concord, empathy, good vibes, good vibrations, groove, harmony, hitting it off, interrelationship, link, relationship, same wavelength, simpatico, soul, sympathy, the groove, togetherness, unity. This word is originally French rapporter – to bring back and the phrase en rapport meaning in sympathy, harmony, or accord. The NLP theory of rapport started by Robert Birdwhistle at the University of Pennsylvania as he studied kinesics and Communications the 7% / 38% / 55% breakdown of words, tonality and physiology. In NLP terms we would describe two extremes for rapport:

  • as the ability to relate to others in a way that creates a climate of trust and understanding
  • to hold another’s unconscious attention (John Grinder)

We would also describe two or more people displaying the same words, gestures or postures as potentially being in rapport, but also two dancers playing different parts, two people arguing, and a person that attracts and holds the attention of another though they are in the midst of a crowd of others.

Words

England and America are two countries separated by a common language.
–George Bernard Shaw

We are both enriched by the abiltiy to use words to convey meaning, and also cursed by the vagueness and ambiguity in the use of the words we choose.

So it does depend on what we really mean by “opposite”, and opposite on what level? Are we going to ask the right questions when it comes to decisions like this? As Psychologist Donn Byrne said, we are twice as likely to be attracted to someone when we agree on six out of 10 issues than we are with someone who we only agree with on three out of 10 issues. This would get down to what we consider to be an ‘issue’.

Starting from scratch in a relationship, there may be no real major issues that arise in our conversations or opinions, because we are busy finding sameness to build rapport because there is attraction. If one has a difference of opinion on politics or religion, these days we might find this refreshing and not an ‘issue’. The old metaphor of the river that looks fine while the water is flowing, but when the river starts to dry, the river reveals the boulders that might be laying on the bed, and these might be the ‘issues’.

Donn Byrne’s comments were about attraction, not sustainability or long term relationships. How do we build our relationships amongst issues? Are our issues really tied to values? Are our values the real things that matter when it comes to relationships? That will be the topic for another article.



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