Attraction Explained : The science of how we form relationships book cover
1st Edition

Attraction Explained
The science of how we form relationships

ISBN 9781138937031
Published January 20, 2016 by Routledge
284 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

How much does appearance matter in the formation of romantic relationships? Do nice guys always finish last? Does playing hard-to-get ever work? What really makes for a good chat-up line? When it comes to relationships, theres no shortage of advice from self-help experts, pick-up artists, and glossy magazines. But modern-day myths of attraction often have no basis in fact or worse are rooted in little more than misogyny. In 'Attraction Explained', psychologist Viren Swami debunks these myths and draws on cutting-edge research to provide a ground-breaking and evidence-based account of relationship formation. At the core of this book is a very simple idea: there are no laws of attraction, no foolproof methods or strategies for getting someone to date you. But this isn't to say that theres nothing to be gained from studying attraction. Based on science rather than self-help cliches, Attraction Explained looks at how factors such as geography, appearance, personality, and similarity affect who we fall for and why.

Table of Contents

1. Cupid’s arrow. Or, a brief history of attraction theories, some dumb shit other people have said, and what this book is all about 

2. Getting up close and personal. Or, why geography matters, how the Internet is (and isn’t) changing how we form relationships, and a beauty-map of London 

3. Appearance matters. Or, how we judge books by their covers, how men aren’t from Mars and women aren’t from Venus, and why what is beautiful is good 

4. Appearance matters, part II. Or, how other things matter too, why nice guys don’t always finish last, and how love is sometimes blind 

5. Liking those who like us. Or how I like you because you like me, thirty-six questions that may (or may not) change your life, and why playing hard-to-get is… hard 

6. Birds of feather. Or why we like people who are similar to ourselves, how we match on attitudes (and other traits), and why opposites sometimes attract 

7. The end of the beginning. Or, why life outside the lab makes fools of all of us and, to conclude, some life-changing advice

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Viren Swami is Professor of Social Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University in the UK. He is an international expert on attraction and body image, and has written and edited several books on these topics. He is also the founder of Plug In Your Brain, a public engagement initiative to promote the wider understanding of psychology.


"This is a beautifully written book, more like a novel than an academic textbook. But don’t be misled. The author is a world authority on the topic. Professor Swami has made sure the book is scrupulous accurate and that all assertions are research based. It is really un-put-downable." - Adrian Furnham, Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London, UK

"I trusted this author at once because, unlike the psychobabblers, he says from the start that there are no "laws" of attraction and no foolproof methods for getting someone to date you, let alone jump into bed with you. That isn’t to say there is nothing to be gained from studying the processes involved in what draws us together. It’s just a lot trickier than most self-help books would suggest. But with precision and no small wit – I found myself frequently laughing out loud - he explores the four key factors that shape the formation of most relationships: proximity, appearance, reciprocity and similarity. As he shows, studying attraction or relationships scientifically, far from destroying the magic and mystery of it all, can actually be helpful, whether you aspire to be lover or friend. He also satisfyingly nails my biggest bête noir: that "treat ‘em mean" is any sort of relationship advice." - Suzie Hayman, agony aunt, relationship counsellor, accredited TripleP (Positive Parenting Programme) parenting educator, broadcaster and author.