My Head Says Yes but My Heart Says No: Cognitive and Affective Attraction as a Function of Similarity to the Ideal Self

  • Herbst K
  • Gaertner L
  • Insko C
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Abstract

The authors hypothesized that similarity to the ideal self (IS) simultaneously generates attraction and repulsion. Attraction research has suggested that a person likes individuals who are similar to his or her IS. Social comparison research has suggested that upward social comparison threatens self-evaluation. In Experiment 1, attraction to a partner increased and then decreased as the partner became more similar to and then surpassed the participant’s IS. In Experiment 2, the cognitive and affective components of attraction increased and decreased, respectively, as the partner approached and surpassed the participant’s IS to the extent that the dimension of comparison was meaningful and participants anticipated meeting their partner. Similarity to the IS generates opposing cognitive and affective reactions when the self-evaluative threat of upward comparison intensifies.

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Authors

  • Kenneth C. Herbst

  • Lowell Gaertner

  • Chester A. Insko

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