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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2011 Sep;101(3):557-70. doi: 10.1037/a0022885.

Familiarity does indeed promote attraction in live interaction.

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  • 1Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, The University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627, USA.


Does familiarity promote attraction? Prior research has generally suggested that it does, but a recent set of studies by Norton, Frost, and Ariely (2007) challenged that assumption. Instead, they found that more information about another person, when that information was randomly selected from lists of trait adjectives, using a trait evaluation paradigm, promoted perceptions of dissimilarity and, hence, disliking. The present research began with the assumption that natural social interaction involves contexts and processes not present in Norton et al.'s research or in the typical familiarity experiment. We theorized that these processes imply a favorable impact of familiarity on attraction. Two experiments are reported using a live interaction paradigm in which two previously unacquainted same-sex persons interacted with each other for varying amounts of time. Findings strongly supported the "familiarity leads to attraction" hypothesis: The more participants interacted, the more attracted they were to each other. Mediation analyses identified three processes that contribute to this effect: perceived responsiveness, increased comfort and satisfaction during interaction, and perceived knowledge.

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