The Correlation between Intimacy and Objective Similarity in Interpersonal Relationships

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to investigate the correlation between interpersonal intimacy and objective similarity of behavioral tendency. Sixty pairs were measured for the intimacy by Rubin's (1970) Love and Liking scale and objective similarity of behavioral tendency by Tuzuki's (1964) TestDELB(Bform). ANOVA of similarity score indicated a significant main effect of gender make up. The similarity score (measured similarities between the 2 persons) of male-male pairs were higher than male-female pairs. A significant positive correlation between similarity score and liking and the perceived similarity factor was observed for the female of male-female pairs.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the correlation between interpersonal intimacy and objective similarity of behavioral tendency focusing on the differences of gender combination of interpersonal relationship. Many researchers have pointed out familiarity, reciprocity of attraction, similarity, and physical attractiveness as the determinants of intimacy or attraction in interpersonal relationship (Berscheid & Reis, 1998; Huston & Levinger, 1978). Among them, much research has been conducted on similarities of attitude and personality as the major determinants of the formation of interpersonal intimacy. For example, by a longitudinal study, Newcomb (1961) demonstrated that similarity of attitude played a major role in the formation of friendship among the house mates in a dormitory. Considering that attraction is a linear function of individuals' attitudinal similarity, Byrne and Nelson (1965), conducted extensive research based on this "bogus stranger" experimental paradigm. Concerning similarity of personality, Carli, Ganley, and Pierce-Otay (1991) reported that university students selected roommates who had similar personalities, Antill (1983) reported that married couples who had similar personalities are more satisfied with their relationship. Yoshida (1972) pointed out that not only attitude and personalities, but also self-concept, economic level, ability, physical condition, and state of emotion function as the object and dimension of similarity.

The similarity-attraction effect has been further elaborated by the evidence that contents of shared similarity interact with the individual's characteristics which influence attraction (Berscheid & Reis, 1998). For example, Jamieson, Lydon, and Zanna (1987) demonstrated that the personality variable of self-monitoring moderated the effect. In other words, for low self-monitors attitudinal similarity influenced attraction of the target person more than did similarity in preference for activities, but the reverse was true for high self-monitors. Osada, Itoh, and Funahashi (1988) demonstrated that the sex factor of the target person influenced attraction. They conducted research based on Byrne's (1965) "bogus stranger" experimental paradigm, and found that the effect of attitudinal similarity was less critical in the opposite-sex condition than in the same-sex condition. In their experiment, they manipulated only the opposite-sex condition as the independent factor of a target person and did not take the same-sex condition into consideration. On the other hand, as Osada et al. (1988) suggested, it is quite possible that a combination of the sex of the subject and that of the target person may influence the correlation between similarity and intimacy.

We are able to summarize the pitfalls of the past studies on intimacy and similarity as follows. Firstly, much research focused only on the short-term impression formation as seen in Byrne's (1965) experimental paradigm. Secondly, they measured only a unidimensional response level, (e.g., liking or disliking.) Thirdly, they dealt only with attitude and personality similarities. Accordingly, this study aims to measure the loving as well as the liking dimension by targeting those people who have already established a long-term interpersonal relationship, such as close friends and lovers. …