Familiarity does indeed promote attraction in live interaction

Harry T. Reis*, Michael R. Maniaci, Peter A. Caprariello, Paul W. Eastwick, Eli J. Finkel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

201 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)557-570
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Attraction
  • Familiarity
  • Friendship formation
  • Relationship development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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