May 18

Attraction and Our Need for Companionship

We’ve all been attracted to someone, whether it was as a “puppy love” crush or a best friend from college. We don’t really know why we like these people, sometimes it just happens. More often, there are reasons why we select these “special” people over everyone else we come to meet. These people play a great role in our lives as social beings. So why do we choose them and why are they so important to us?

The truth is, most relationships begin and thrive on being physically close to one another. This explains why high school students in the same classes begin to date or co-workers become close friends. They spend so much of their time in close proximity to one another, and are able to pick up details about one another- such as style, humor, and interests. The proximity effect explains that this “tendency for physical and psychological nearness increases interpersonal liking.” (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012) The people we are around the most tend to be the people we find ourselves gravitating towards.

However, physical attractiveness is also an important component. This is where the primacy effect comes in. This is “the tendency to be especially influenced by information that is presented first.” In this case, before any other contact is made, a person judges another on their physical appearance. A person’s appearance serves as the first information given to those around them. And looks matter! According to research by Dion, Berscheid, and Walster, attractive people are deemed to have positive qualities such as sociableness and sexually responsiveness. (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012) Our appearance gives a great first impression on who we are, and this can affect our relationships with new people.

These people that we so carefully select to be apart of our lives by attraction are important. Humans are social by nature, and it can give us both happiness and pain. Relationships with people have been used against people as punishment- prisoners being shipped away to new lands, social isolation, etc. This leaves a person feeling lonely and vulnerable without others to rely on. (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012) But, this also shows our incredible need for relationships to survive. Social belongingness is essential to human life just as food, water, and shelter.

This article discusses how our survival is affected by social ties- https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/relationships-boost-survival/

We choose certain people to be apart of our lives, whether as a friend or as a romantic partner based on our attraction. We become attracted by their close proximity and their physical appearance.. and from there a relationship can blossom. The relationships in our lives allow us to feel safe, have resources to live, and give us the physical contact that we crave as human beings.

Without attraction and companionship, we would live our lives as empty shells of human beings.



Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications

May 18

Setting Yourself Up for Failure

Every student has strengths and weaknesses in certain academic areas. Some breeze through math, while they can barely scrape up a C in English. While of course, students have better abilities in some subjects than others naturally, does their attitude play a role?

The answer? Mostly yes. While natural ability of course makes a difference, a student’s attitude toward a certain subject or course can affect their behavior and success.

A bad attitude toward science may seem like a normal response toward this subject, but it can do more harm than one would expect. Going into a science class with the expectation to perform poorly can be self-handicapping- “creating barriers to successful performance prior to an achievement task.” (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012) In a way, this negative approach toward a task that hasn’t even be worked on yet can essentially set one up for failure. This approach can lead to behavior that avoids the “dreaded” task at hand, such as socializing. Failure becomes almost inevitable at this point. Repeated use of self-handicapping can have detrimental effects on performance, responsibility, and achievement over time. (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012)

Self-handicapping is a negative coping mechanism, and it’s use creates a vicious cycle. The more this coping is used, the more performance goes down. The more performance goes down, the more self-esteem goes down. (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012)

Classrooms where ability is emphasized may be a place where self-handicapping can be encouraged. (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012) With that being said, classrooms may also be the place where self-handicapping can be reduced. Classrooms that emphasized individual accomplishments, learning, and effort tend to have lower instances of self-handicapping occurring than in ability emphasized classrooms. (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012)

Perhaps another huge responsibility lays in teachers hands. Teachers should help students set achievable goals, emphasize enjoyment of learning, and communicate that students should not be ashamed when they do not understand material. These strategies have shown effective- students were less likely to engage in self-handicapping behavior. (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012)

Education is such an important part of our lives as a society, and we should attempt to do the best that we can in all subjects and materials. Self-handicapping is a premature response to an expected failure, and it does no good except increase the odds of failure itself. It is important to try to nip this in the bud, and look to where we can fix this problem. With better confidence, students will rise and perform better than before.

A personal outlook:

College is hard, no one will disagree with that. But as college students, we’ve elected to be here. We’re paying money and spending valuable time choosing to further our education. There are classes we may dread, but it is important to remember to just try.



Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications

May 18

How Much Does Your Spouse Affect Your Mood?

Young happy couple in love holding red paper heart.


Growing up, I’ve heard several married men declare that a happy wife means a  happy life. Although the happy life those men were referring to meant less nagging and attitudes, there is some real evidence to back up their claim. Emotional contagion is the idea that individuals take on or mimic the emotions of those around them. Romantic relationships can greatly be affected by emotional contagion due to the many social interactions and close proximity. Recall the last time your partner had great news to tell you. As they are standing in front of you excited and smiling from ear to ear, you cant help but also smile. This is a basic example of emotional contagion.

Researchers have also dug deeper in how emotions can be influenced by romantic partners. One aspect being studied, the partner-expected affect, believes how a person currently feels can be predicted by how their partner thought they previously felt. A study completed by Sels L1Ceulemans E1Kuppens P examined this among 50 couples. All the participants were heterosexual and over the age of 18. However the age, length of relationship, and living status varied in order to properly represent the population. Methods and procedures were thoroughly explained to all individuals. Using a grid, they were instructed to mark the position that best corresponded to their current emotion state. A separate grid, they were told to mark how the believed their partner also felt at that exact moment. The study lasted for 7 consecutive days and couples competed the assessment a total of ten times. A signal was sent to each partner notifying them it was time to complete an assessment. It was also documented rather or not the partners had been in contact with each between receiving the signal and starting the assessment.

The results of this study support the idea of partner- expected affect. Both men and women participants self-reported pleasurable feelings more often when their partners also did. Furthermore,  how pleasant people felt was positively predicted by how pleasant their partner thought they were feeling before.  Emotions are contangious. All forms of relationships must keep this in mind to maintain positive connections.


Partner-expected affect: How you feel now is predicted by how your partner thought you felt before
Sels, Laura; Ceulemans, Eva; Kuppens, Peter. Emotion Vol. 17, Iss. 7, (Oct 2017): 1066-1077.

photo cred: https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/young-happy-couple-love-holding-red-520141351?src=3y1ergOe-pSSNyEdINHACw-1-2

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