The Bachelor: A Psych Lesson

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I have never been a fan of The Bachelor, but even in watching one episode you can see psychology at work. Every season there are some main themes:
The bachelor is a handsome young man who has a pocket book full of cash. Typically the majority of the girls are a few years younger than him, have looks above average, and come from similar backgrounds. The dates they go on have some sort of thrill factor, whether it be skydiving, off-loading, driving Nascar cars, or bungee jumping. One date the bachelor gets to choose, the next the girl gets to choose. At the end of the show there is an elimination ceremony, which eventually leads to a proposal ceremony.
How do all these themes relate to psychology though?
To begin with, the show uses the basics of attraction: men like younger women, and women like older men with money to spare. All of these people are beautiful, so their isn't anything to worry about when it comes to physical attractiveness. Next the show uses the three major principles in guide attraction and relationship formation: proximity, similarity, and reciprocity. The proximity principle is fulfilled through the constant dates that occur. The similarity principle is fulfilled by everyone having similar economic backgrounds. Finally the reciprocity principle is satisfied by the trading off of whether the male or female picks and hosts the date. To help the love process along the way the Dutton and Aron's bridge study is constantly used for the dates- having them be some sort of thrill, the two factor process theory. Another aspect of psychology that is used is the approach- avoidance pattern of conflict, and is the most important part of the show. The proposal. The bachelor has to choose who to propose to and once he does he has to wait to see if he's been rejected by the girl he has chosen.
With all this play with emotions, no wonder why this show is such a hit and a guilty pleasure to watch.

ABC's The Bachelor Website

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Good application of attraction principles. I like all of the points you make except the reciprocity. They do not take turns picking the date. The Bachelor picks them all and picks the women. In fact, I think this is a big problem in the attraction principles of the show. The women have very little reciprocity overall (they are telling the man how they love him but he is forbidden from saying it back till the end). I know far too many details about this... We all have guilty pleasures we watch right? :)

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This page contains a single entry by helge236 published on November 20, 2011 5:27 PM.

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