Distinguishing arousal from novelty and challenge in initial romantic attraction

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Gary W. Lewandowski Jr.
Arthur P. Aron
Cite this article:  Lewandowski Jr., G., & Aron, A. (2004). Distinguishing arousal from novelty and challenge in initial romantic attraction. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 32(4), 361-372.


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This study attempts to disentangle the influence of arousal from novelty and challenge in the context of interpersonal attraction. Further, this study attempts to demonstrate the robustness of the arousal/attraction effect. Cross-sex stranger pairs participated in one of four game-like physical activities in a 2 (high vs. low novelty/challenge) × 2 (high vs. low arousal) between pairs design, then completed a measure of romantic attraction. As predicted, those participating in highly arousing activities showed significantly greater romantic attraction to their partners than did those participating in less arousing activities. There were no significant effects for novelty/challenge, contrary to expectations based on theory and previous parallel research showing such effects on love and satisfaction for couples in long-term relationships. Additionally, this is the first study to show an arousal-attraction effect using real randomly paired partners (as opposed to confederates or photographs), in which their actual interaction was the source of arousal.

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Gary W. Lewandowski Jr., PhD, Monmouth University, Psychology Department, West Long Branch, NJ 07764, USA. Phone: (732) 263-5476; Fax: (732) 263-5159; Email: [email protected]

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