Do Birds of a Feather Play Sports Together? Moderators of the Similarity-Attraction Relationship in the Context of Sports and Physical Activities

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2016-05
Authors
Tolman, Ryan
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2016]
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Psychological theories of similarity and attraction predict that common interests and participation in particular sports and physical activities (SPA) will lead to greater attraction. However, both social structural and evolutionary sexual strategies theories predict that the sexes will engage in different SPAs. Furthermore, SPAs are theorized to function as cultural courtship rituals by which people make inferences regarding desirable mate characteristics. The current study sought to examine whether relationship context, participants’ sex, and their sex-role attitudes moderated the similarity-attraction relationship and whether perceived characteristics associated with particular SPA participation influence interpersonal attraction. Using an online questionnaire, heterosexual participants (N = 336 females, 174 males) were provided a list of 29 SPAs and rated each on levels of personal interest and experience, perceived characteristics associated with people who engage in each SPA, and interpersonal attraction towards people who engage in those SPAs in four relationship contexts (same- and other-sex friendships, short-term sexual relationships, and long-term romances). Similarity in SPAs was found to be positively associated with attraction, significantly moderated by the interaction with participant’s sex and relationship context, and significantly more influential across relationship contexts for participants with traditional sex-role attitudes. Perceptions of gender-role alignment with SPA engagement predicted interpersonal attraction. Although females strongly associated male athletes as being athletic and physically strong, these characteristic perceptions were not found to align with their ratings of interpersonal attraction. Males were significantly more influenced by perceptions of kindness in romantic contexts than females. In opposite-sex relationship contexts, both sexes prioritized perceived physical attractiveness followed by social popularity.
Description
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2016.
Includes bibliographical references.
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sports and physical activities, similarity-attraction, interpersonal attraction, sex differences, sex-role attitudes
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Psychology
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