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Romance and Risk: Romantic Attraction and Health Risks in the Process of Relationship Formation
Unformatted Document Text:  18 correlations are quite low. In fact, for more than 75% of the aspects, knowing something about attraction provides relatively little information about risk and vice versa. There are however, a number of aspects for which there are quite significant negative correlations. For 8, the correlation between risk and attractiveness is greater than -.30 (See Table 5). It is interesting to note that the informational aspects, i.e., those with moderate to high negative correlation’s between attractiveness and risk, are dominated by characteristics that probably do not reflect immediately ascertainable data about the potential romantic partner (drinking, drug use, attitudes toward sexual experimentation, past sexual experience, exclusivity, desired relationship, and social support). Therefore, the use of “superficial” risk information in partner selection found in this study (e.g., appearance) may reflect the realities of the social world because the aspects which may be most likely to provide information about risk, are ones least likely to be known during an initial encounter. While these findings are somewhat discouraging, there is at least some room for optimism. As indicated above, young adults do seem to have learned the public health message that potential partners who are “promiscuous”, gay, or bisexual, and/or who use drugs do pose a potential health risk. Moreover, it does appear that, at least on average, the more one perceives that a potential partner has an aspect that appears “risky” the less one is

Authors: Johnson, Brenda., Fishbein, Martin., Hennessy, Michael. and Yzer, Marcus.
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18
correlations are quite low. In fact, for more than 75% of the
aspects, knowing something about attraction provides relatively
little information about risk and vice versa. There are however,
a number of aspects for which there are quite significant negative
correlations. For 8, the correlation between risk and
attractiveness is greater than -.30 (See Table 5).
It is interesting to note that the informational aspects,
i.e., those with moderate to high negative correlation’s between
attractiveness and risk, are dominated by characteristics that
probably do not reflect immediately ascertainable data about the
potential romantic partner (drinking, drug use, attitudes toward
sexual experimentation, past sexual experience, exclusivity,
desired relationship, and social support). Therefore, the use of
“superficial” risk information in partner selection found in this
study (e.g., appearance) may reflect the realities of the social
world because the aspects which may be most likely to provide
information about risk, are ones least likely to be known during
an initial encounter.
While these findings are somewhat discouraging, there is at
least some room for optimism. As indicated above, young adults do
seem to have learned the public health message that potential
partners who are “promiscuous”, gay, or bisexual, and/or who use
drugs do pose a potential health risk. Moreover, it does appear
that, at least on average, the more one perceives that a potential
partner has an aspect that appears “risky” the less one is


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