The helpful comments of Larry Cohen, Scott Gartner, David Greenberg, Brian Powell, and Susan Sprecher are gratefully acknowledged. Appreciation is also expressed to Stuart Henderson and John Peters for help with data analysis and to Donnie Anderson, Kristin Anderson, Camille Fink, P. J. Guarino, Kirsten Jensen, Gina LaRotunda, Walter Mueller, and John Sybersma for their help in data coding. Portions of this research were presented at the International Conference on Personal Relationships, Banff, Alberta, Canada, August 1996.
“Be careful what you wish for…”: A quantitative and qualitative investigation of “fata1 attractions”
Article first published online: 20 MAY 2005
Volume 5, Issue 3, pages 235–253, September 1998
How to Cite
FELMLEE, D. H. (1998), “Be careful what you wish for…”: A quantitative and qualitative investigation of “fata1 attractions”. Personal Relationships, 5: 235–253. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6811.1998.tb00170.x
- Issue published online: 20 MAY 2005
- Article first published online: 20 MAY 2005
This study uses questionnaire data from 301 terminated romantic relationships to investigate hypotheses concerning the conditions under which a quality that is initially appealing in a partner is later disliked (i.e., a “fatal attraction”). Individuals are expected to be prone to fatal attractions when they are attracted to a quality in a romantic partner that is “different” in any of three ways: (1) different from the individual's own qualities (i.e., dissimilar); (2) different from average (i.e., extreme, or unique); or (3) different from normative expectations (i.e., gender atypical). Such attractions are less likely, however, when individuals are drawn to similarity in another. Findings from a logistic regression analysis provide support for four of the five hypotheses. Fatal attractions are significantly more likely when an individual is drawn to partner characteristics seen either as “dissimilar” from her or his own, as “unique,” or as “extreme” in nature. When these characteristics are viewed as “similar,” disenchantment is less likely. Fatal attractions are neither more, nor less, probable, however, when partner qualities contradict gender stereotypes. A qualitative analysis of open-ended questionnaire responses provides further support for these attraction patterns. The findings have implications for diverse theories, including those of mate selection and dialectics.