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1) Everyone differs slightly in what they consider attractive or beautiful. Do you believe certain attributes are
universally attractive? Beauty is most certainly culturally driven. Different societies, different cultures, and different
ages all have an idea of what beauty is based on the particular belief of the time. For example, in Ancient Greece,
physical beauty was defined quite different than actual beauty. Ancient cultures had differing methods of defining
male and female beauty – hirsute is beautiful to one age, smooth musical another; voluptuous to one age, thin to
another. As culture changes, so does the perception of beauty. Witness that some cultures pierce lips and ears or
elongate the neck as an idea of physical beauty – in modern U.S. culture, beauty seems to be tied to the era of
advertising and what the top fashion houses are producing, but is typically unattainable by most people; for women,
size 4 or below, smaller breasts, thin and angular; for men, muscled by sinewy, longish hair, angular looks. And,
beauty is influenced by the cosmetics and fashion industries, as well as the diet industry – and the idea that one must
constantly spend money in order to become beautiful is the fuel for the industries in question.
What are these attributes? Typically, female beauty has been historically expressed with fairer skin (someone who
does not need to work long hours in the sun); breasts and hips that are at least partially fleshy (ease of birth), and
bright clear eyes. Make up has been used to accentuate the cheeks and lips to mimic sexual excitement, and
certainly, size and level of voluptuousness changes over time.
Do you believe one’s sense of beauty is intrinsic or learned? Clearly it is learned. A baby or child does not know
what beauty is until they are culturally taught, and will find something that is comforting and kind to be more
beautiful to them than something cold and unfeeling.
What influence do the media and one’s peers have on the concept of beauty? In contemporary society, the media and
peer culture have a great deal of effect on the individual concept of beauty. While this starts early on, it accentuates
in the early teen years in which teens, especially girls, fight to look like the newest movie or fashion icon, are very
susceptible to peer pressure, and consider themselves “ugly or fat” if they don’t fit in with the conventional manner
of looks and actions. This is true for boys, too, who need to fit into the particular style of masculinity, which changes
by generation – e.g. in the 70s a masculine man was a Burt Reynolds type, or a Marlboro man; while in today’s
world it is more the androgynous or metrosexual look.
What other factors influence the perception of attraction? According to anthropologists and psychologists, scent has
a profound effect upon attraction, as does a social and cultural tradition. Until adulthood, though, it does not seem
that personality has a great deal to do with the laws of attraction as does the cultural and social norms of the time.
Too, attraction and beauty are different- one can appreciate the beauty of a statue or piece of art, as opposed to being
physically or sexually attracted to someone (see the online show at:
2) In no less than 200 words, post a response to the following: Relationships, similar to people, encounter stages of
development. Describe how a person moves through each of the five stages of Levinger’s ABC’s of relationships
model. As you write your description, include answers to the following questions: What do you think people look
for in the attraction stage? How do people work on building a relationship? What are some positive factors which
foster the continuation of a relationship? What steps can a couple take to avoid the deterioration phase? Resource...
In general, Pscyhologist George Levinger believed relationships had five stages that are referred to as the “ABC’s of
Relationships” – attraction, building, continuation, deterioration, and ending. For Levinger, this is a universal theory
and fits all relationships whether it be romantic, familial, friendship, or even casual – and of course, the timing is
different in all the types of relationships that use this model.
(A) In the attraction stage, it is physical beauty or something that causes initial attraction; dress, body language,
encounters, the mind, etc. In dating, it may be similar interests, philosophy, personality, or a photo. This stage,
though focuses on commonality or something winning that the other person has that just seems “right.”
(B) The building stage is deeper, and tends to focus more on common grounds, enjoying things with one another,
and a more honest approach to the relationship. Not thinking one needs to always be on the best behavior, this
stage is more of a foundation of any relationship and establishes the groundwork of whether the relationship
will continue or not. Building requires more trust, building requires more honesty, building requires letting
one’s guard down and taking risks.
(C) The Continuation stage is a logical movement beyond the building stage in which both parties seem to believe
the relationship is worth continuing, and both parties glean something positive from it. Both are willing to
continue communication and effort, there are more demonstrations of trust, commitment, equity, and mutual
satisfaction – whether that be physically, mentally, emotionally, or a combination thereof. Interestingly enough,
Levinger sees that in the C stage, “I” is often replaced by “we.”
(D) Levinger insists that the last to stages, deterioration and ending are completely avoidable if both individuals
remain committed to the continuation and relationship maintenance. Of course, ending can also mean the death
of one of the partners as well. However, the deterioration stage is the time when one or both parties no longer
desire to continue in the relationship – either because the relationship has declined, commonality has ebbed, or
the cost benefit is not worth the energy. This stage is natural, but Levinger believes that if there is a
commitment to communication, resolving conflict, or seeking professional help and guidance to work through
the issues, the relationship can continue.
(E) The Ending stage of any relationship is when one or both parties has ended the work that needed to take place in
the “D” stage, or that both parties simply do not wish, for reasons of their own, to continue on in the
relationship. This can be because of some angry outburst, infidelity, or simply growing apart naturally through
geography or life stage. According to Levinger, the “E” stage may be painful, but it does allow both parties to
grow, mature, and learn from past mistakes and be able to make a fresh start at a new relationship elsewhere.
References and Additional Readings
Peiss, Kathy. (1999). Hope in a Jar: The Making of America’s Beauty Culture. Holt Publishing.
Eve, R. (1997). Chaos, Complexity, and Sociology: Myths, Models and Theories. Sage.
Faludi, Susan. (2000). Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty. Anchor Books.
Hyland, Drew. (2008). Plato and the Question of Beauty. Indiana University Press.
Nevid, J. S. and Rathus, S.A. (2005). Psychology and the Challenges of Life. John Wiley.
Wolf, Naomi (2002). The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women.
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