Propinquity refers to the proximity or physical closeness of one person to another. The greater the degree of propinquity, the more likely that two people will be attracted to each other and become friends. Propinquity is usually thought of in terms of functional distance—that is, the likelihood of coming into contact with another person—rather than sheer physical distance.
Propinquity Background and Modern Usage
Research on the effects of propinquity rests on the common-sense premise that one is unlikely to become friends with someone whom one has never met. Beyond this simple principle, however, is a set of observations and implications with considerable relevance for understanding how people move from initial encounters to the development of friendship. The power of propinquity is illustrated by a well-known finding from the Maryland State Police Training Academy. When aspiring police officers were asked to name their best friend in their training class, most named someone whose name, when placed in alphabetical order, was very close to their own. This result is readily attributed to the use of alphabetical name position for dormitory assignments and training activities.
Among the various explanations for propinquity effects, two have received the most support. One is termed the mere exposure effect. All other things being equal, the more often a person is exposed to a particular stimulus, the more favorably that stimulus tends to be evaluated. This has been shown with abstract paintings, letters of the alphabet, names, faces, and people. Thus, according to the mere exposure explanation, propinquity influences attraction because physical closeness increases familiarity and hence liking for other persons.
A second explanation is more interactive in nature. Physical proximity increases the frequency of encounters, and thereby creates opportunities for interaction. Because most of our interactions tend to be on the positive side of neutral, propinquity breeds positive experiences, which in turn foster attraction and friendship. In other words, propinquity creates opportunities to interact with others; more often than not, these interactions are rewarding and enjoyable in a way that promotes friendship formation. This explanation suggests an important exception to the propinquity-attraction rule: In circumstances in which people are predisposed in a more negative way—for example, because of substantial value differences, bias, or competing interests—propinquity should increase the likelihood of disliking. Research has shown that this is indeed the case.
The idea that functional distance may matter more than simple physical proximity reflects both of these explanations. Many factors other than sheer distance affect the frequency with which people encounter one another—for example, the physical and temporal layout of everyday routines such as going to work, health clubs, and recreation. Moreover, in the modern world, propinquity may also be cultivated electronically, such as by e-mail, instant messaging, and cell phones. Although the principle of propinquity may be timeless, the ways in which propinquity is established are ever-changing.
- Bornstein, R. F. (1989). Exposure and affect: Overview and meta-analysis of research, 1968-1987. Psychological Bulletin, 106, 265-289.
- Segal, M. W. (1974). Alphabet and attraction: An unobtrusive measure of the effect of propinquity in a field setting. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30, 654-657.
Step 5: Hypothesis Statement
(will be worked on in class prior to due date)
Your hypothesis statement will be turned in during science class, reviewed by the teacher and returned. Below is a short explanation of a hypothesis statement and some examples of hypothesis statements.
Hypothesis statement--a prediction that can be tested or an educated guess.
In a hypothesis statement, students make a prediction about what they think will happen or is happening in their experiment. They try to answer their question or problem.
Question: Why do leaves change colors in the fall?
Hypothesis: I think that leaves change colors in the fall because they are not being exposed to as much sunlight.
Hypothesis: Bacterial growth may be affected by temperature.
Hypothesis: Chocolate may cause pimples
All of these are examples of hypotheses because they use the tentative word "may." However, their form in not particularly useful. Using the word does not suggest how you would go about proving it. If these statements had not been written carefully, they may not have been a hypotheses at all.
A better way to write a hypotheses is to use a formalized hypotheses
Example: If skin cancer is related to ultraviolet light, then people with a high exposure to uv light will have a higher frequency of skin cancer.
Example: If leaf color change is related to temperature, then exposing plants to low temperatures will result in changes in leaf color.
Example: If the rate of photosynthesis is related to wave lengths of light, then exposing a plant to different colors of light will produce different amounts of oxygen.
Example: If the volume of a gas is related to temperature, then increasing the temperature will increase the volume.
These examples contain the words, if and then. Formalized hypotheses contain two variables. One is "independent" and the other is "dependent." The independent variable is the one you, the scientist control and the dependent variable is the one that you observe and/or measure the results.
The ultimate value of a formalized hypotheses is it forces us to think about what results we should look for in an experiment.
Example: If the diffusion rate (dependent variable) through a membrane is related to molecular size (independent variable), then the smaller the molecule the faster it will pass through the membrane.