Arousal and Attraction: A Response-Facilitation Alternative to Misattribution and Negative-Reinforcement Models

James B. Allen, Douglas Kenrick, Darwyn E. Linder, Michael A. McCall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations


Previous explanations of arousal-attraction phenomena have focused on misattribution and reinforcement processes. Two studies were conducted to test an alternative response-facilitation explanation of these findings. In general, both studies followed previous methods, with the addition of conditions in which Ss attention was directed to the actual source of their arousal. Study 1 was based on the fear-arousal method used by Dutton and Aron (1974) and found enhanced attraction to a confederate in high-fear-arousal subjects. Contrary to the misattribution model, the focus-of-attention manipulation had no effect on attraction. Study 2 used a nonthreatening source of arousal (exercise) and also included a focus-of-attention manipulation. Contrary to the misattribution model, arousal facilitated sexual attraction even when subjects' attention was directed to the actual arousal source. Although the results of Study 1 are consistent with a negative-reinforcement model, the findings from Study 2, and from several other studies in the area, are not. The simple response-facilitation model best explains these results and provides a parsimonious alternative explanation for several other sets of data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-270
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1989


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Psychology

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