PSYA3 Relationships

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  • PSYA3: Relationships
    • Formation of romantic relationships
      • In the Reward/Need satisfaction theory, Bryne and Clore suggest romantic relationships form through operant conditioning, where we form romantic relationships with people who are directly associated with reinforcementas they create positive feelings in us which reward us and make them more attractive to us. Also suggest we form romantic relationships through classical conditioning, where we will form a romantic relationship with someone who we associate with pleasant events, eg someone who we met somewhere we liked or on a day when we were feeling happy. Bryne and Clore argue relationships where the positive feelings replace the negative were more likely to develop and succeed.
        • The idea we form relationships with those who we directly associate with reinforcement and rewards (good feelings) has physiological support- Aron et al found those who measured very high on a self-report questionnaire of romantic love also showed strong activity in the brain, suggesting positive feelings. Aron et al suggested the brain reward system associated with romantic love most probably evolved to drive our ancestors to focus their courtship energy on specific induviduals.
        • Lack ecological validity and mundane realism; mostly laboratory studies which don't show the principles of need satisfaction and similarity apply to real life.
          • However Caspi and Herbener's study has been conducted in real-life couples.
            • The reward/need satisfaction theory does not account for gender and cultural differences in the formation of romantic relationships, eg Lott suggests in many cultures women are more focused on meeting the needs of others than receiving reinforcement, arguably the theory isn't a universal explanation of relationship formation.
              • Cate et al asked 337 induviduals to assess their current relationships and their results showed reward level was superior to all other factors in determining relationship satisfaction.
                • However Hays found we receive satisfaction by giving others rewards as well as receiving rewards which the theory ignores.
      • In Bryne, Clore and Smeaton's   similarity explanation,  Bersheid and Reis suggest we are most likely to form relationships with people with similar personalities to ours, for example two serious and hardworking people. Eg Caspi and Herbener found married couples with similar personalities were happier. the explanation suggests that relationships are only likely to form if 'attitude allignment' occurs, where partners modify their attitudes so they become more similar. Can be seen as an extension of the reward/need satisfaction theory; similar attitudes can be seen as a reinforcement.
        • In the dissimilarity-repulsion hypothesis, Rosenbaum suggested few  dissimilarities was the more important factor in determining if relationships will form and develop. This was supported by studies in different cultures, eg Singh and Tan's in Singapore, Drigotas and the USA established similarity of attitudes was what first attracted people to each other, but once they got to know each other those who found more dissimilarity than similarity were less attracted to each other.
          • Yoshida argues that the similarity explanation does not take into account other important similarities, eg Speakman et al found people tend to form romantic relationships with people who have similar levels of body fat.
          • Condon and Crano suggests similarity is important because we lessen the chance of being rejected by a partner, and because when people share our attitudes and beliefs it tends to validate them which is rewarding.
      • Breakdown of romantic relationships
        • Rollie and Duck's model suggests relationship breakdown has six stages. One stage involves intrapsychic processes where partners become resentful of each other's flaws and withdraw from their relationship. Another stage involves social processes where individuals discuss their relationship problems with their friends and denigrate their partner as well as get reassurance that they are the better partner. There is also a grave-dressing stage, where partners prepare stories about the break-up that will present them in a good light, and a resurrection stage, where partners recreate their own sense of social value and prepare for future relationships.
          • Another piece of psychological research into breakdown is Duck suggested relationships could breakdown due to partners having a lack of interpersonal skills, such as being poor conversationalists, or due to a lack of stimulation and rewards.
            • Duck also suggested maintenance difficulties could be a reason for relationship breakdown, where partners cannot see each other enough due to external circumstances such as going to university.
              • Duck's reasons are supported by research evidence, eg Baxter found a lack of stimulation eg boredom is often quoted when breaking off a relationship.
                • A major reason relationships breakdown is extramarital affairs, and Boekhout et al found these affairs may be a direct reaction to lack or skills and or stimulation.
                  • His reasons have real-world applications. He highlighted the importance of interpersonal skills in relationships and it has led to couples enhancement training programmes Cind et al found 50 couples who had received this training reported higher martial quality than a control group.
                    • Rohlfing found 70% of students sampled had experienced at least one long-distance relationship. This undermines the idea that people cant see each other enough, so undermines Duck's idea that relationships can breakdown due to maintenance difficulties.
          • Rollie and Duck's model is supported by observations of real-life break ups. Tashiro and Fraizer's survey of undergraduates who had recently had a break up with a romantic partner supported the ideas that break ups led to personal growth and gave them a clearer idea of what they wanted in future partners, both of which are features of the resurrection stage of the model.
            • However Tashiro and Fraier's study was only on undergraduates, so it lacks ecological validity and is not representative of relationship breakdwn in the wider population. Undergraduates generally have more short-term and casual relationships than mature adults.
              • Another strength of Rollie and Duck's model is it has practical applications, eg a relationship cunsellor could use the model to help the couple identify the good things in their relationship if they were in the intrapsychic stage.
                • May be accused of having gender bias; social stage suggests partners talk about relationship problems with friends but men do this much less than women. Therefore the model may not be applicable to men.
    • Maintenance of Romantic Relationships
      • In their Social Exchange Theory, Thibaut and Kelley, suggests that relationships last if individuals get a profitable outcome from it. This means that individuals need to get more rewards, eg sex and companion-ship than what the relationship costs them, eg financial investment and opportunities lost whilst being in the relationship. Thibaut and Kelley also suggest relationships only last if the potential profit in a relationship exceeds our comparison level (product of experiences in other relationships and expectations).
        • Explains why some women stay in abusive relationships; they see the relationship as profitable because the investments, eg children and financial security, are higher than the investments, eg no money, according to Rusbult and Martz.
        • Supported by the fact people in relationships try to ignore potential alternatives, eg Simpson et al found participants in a relationship gave lower ratings of attractiveness of the opposite sex.
          • However, Social Exchange Theory does not explain why some people leave relationships despite having no alternative.
            • Arguably has cultural bias. Only applies to Western cultures and short-term relationships, rather than people in collectivist cultures and people looking for long-term relationships, who value security more than personal profit.
            • Social Exchange Theory has been criticised for over-focusing on the individual's perspective and ignoring the social aspects of the relationship.. For example,
              • Has real- world applications in relationship therapy to increase the proportion of positive exchanges within a relationship, because Gottman and Levenson found a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative echanges in successful married couples and this was around 1:1 or less in unsuccessful marriages. Christensen et al treated over 60 distressed couples in Integrated Behavioural Couples Therapy  and found two thirds reported significant improvements in their relationship as a result.
    • In Walster et al's equity theory, Messick and Cook suggest relationships will only last if both partners achieve fairness, because without fairness partners will get dissatisfied and distressed. There are also suggestions that relationships only last if both partners' have the same number of rewards-costs. Arguably if these are not the same, inequality will be perceived and we are motivated to restore it, eg by changing the amount we put into the relationship and the things we demand from it.
      • Clark and Mills found communal relationships between lovers or friends are governed more by the desire to respond to the needs of a partner rather than keeping track of rewards and costs, and partners tend to believe things will balance out in the long run.
        • Using 1500 couples as part of the US National Survey of Families and Households Demaris found the only subjective index of inequity associated with disruption of romantic relationships is women's sense of being under-benefitted.
          • Ragsdale and Brandau-Brown reject the clam that equity is a key determinant of relationship dissatisfaction as they argue this represents ''an incomplete rendering of the way in which married people behave with respect to each other''
          • In Staffordand Canary's study asking over 200married couples to complete measures of relationship and equity satisfaction, findings were conststent with predictions from equity theory; satisfaction was highest for those who considered their relationships to be equitable.
    • Influence of Culture on romantic relationships
      • Suggestion Western cultures regard the importance of love in romantic relationships much more than collectivist non-western cultures, who prioritise the good of the extended family; western cultres are mostly individualistic andsee individual happiness fundamentally important.
        • People in western cultures tend to have a higher degree of choice in romantic relationships and a greater pool of romantic potential partners to choose from. This is because many western cultures are predominantly urban with relatively easy social mobility whereas in non-western cultures social mobility is less easy, interaction with strangers is rare and relationships are frequently tied to family and economic resources.
          • Seepersad et al suggested single young cultures in western cultures such as the US and the UK would experience more romantic lonliness than those in non-western cultures, arguably because western cultures promote a stronger desire for romantic relationships.
            • Suggestion western cultures have a warped expectation of 'perfect' relationships because they are exposed to culturally-biased romance levels in US romantic comedies.
              • Johnson and Holmes spent a year analysig 40 top bx office films and found in a questionnaire that fans of romantic comedies like 'My Best Friend's Wedding' were more likely to have a relationship reflecting the film themes.
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          • Supported by Levine et al' research; in their investigation into love as a basis for marriage in 11 countriesUS western respondents were mainly reluctant to marry someone they didn't love (86% were reluctant) whereas 34% of thepeople asked in Thailand and 24% of the people asked in India would.
            • Eidence against the suggetsions hat love isn't very important in non-western cultures. In rapidly developing non-western cultures like china there has been a noticeable increase in love matches and instances in which parents dominate partner choice has decreasedby 60%, suggesting love is more important in non-western cultures than the research suggests.
              • In an ettempt to investigate whether romantic love is an evolved adaptation and experienced everywhere in human gropus, research from Fischer and Jankowiak found evidence of romantic love is 90% of 166 cultures studied, including non-western ones.
                • Research suggests different attitudes towards romantic relationships in non-western and western cultures isdue to greaterurbanisation in western cultures and nt the culture itself, eg despite being regarded as a collectivist culture Idia has seen a sharp increase in divorce rates mostly within its thriving urban middle clss.
                  • Methodological problems in the research- the research could be accused of cultural bias because measures of love or satisfactionthat have been developed in western cultures may nt be validin others.
          • Suggests relationships in the west are better but in non-western cultures many have non-voluntary arranged marriages and relationships and Epstein found low divorce rtes in them and Myers et alfound no differences in martial satisfaction in non-arranged mariages in the usa compared to arranged marriages in india.
    • Evolutionary explanations of sexdifferencesin parental investment
      • Daly and Wilson suggest females devote more to parental care than males. egfemales produce far fewergametes over the course of her lifetime thanmales produce sperm, and only females can be certain they are the true parent of their child.
        • Another reason why females invest more parentally isarguably because brain size has increased in response to adaptive pressures. This has made childbirth difficult, so childbirth in humans occurs early in development. Human babies are relatively immature compared to other animals, so babies depend on their mothers and there is extended period of childcare where mothers contribute more resources than fathers.
          • Research suggests the fact females invest more parentally than males makes females more discriminating in their choice of sexual partner. Arguably females are so invested in their children that they will be very selective to ensure good quality offspring. In the past, child birth success rates were very low so females have evolved to be very selective.
            • Another reason is because they are under pressure to protect themselves from investing in offspring which are nottheir own (cuckoldry); human reproduction is internal and it is the mother who gives birth to the child s men cannot be certain the child is theirs with out DNA tests. Since DNA tests have nt always been around men have evolved to invest less parentally.
            • In a survey of 2700 UKwomen Baker and Bellis estimated as many as 14% of the population were products of extramarital matings. This suggests wmen are so selective and so invested in having a healthy child that some marry a man for good resources then shop around for good genes through extramarital affairs with studs.
              • Evidence to support the claim that males are less prepared than females to invest parentally. In Geher et al's study of 91 undergraduates using parental ivestment percepton scales there were no sex differences in  self report answersbut men hadsignificantl higher ANS arousal when given a difficult parenting scenario suggesting men are not biologically prepared to invest parentally.
                • Baker and Bellis' and Geher et al's studies used self-report techniques where participants are likely to lie and answer based on what is socially desirable. Invalid support.
                  • In Geher et al's study the participants were undergraduates who are typically less prepared for children than mature males s findings lack ecological validity.May over exaggerate how poorly prepared males are to invest parentally.
              • Daly and Wilson argue Cuckoldry isn't a valid reason for lack of parental investment; suggest puts women at risk of abandonment, violence whichputs child in danger so cuckoldry is less common than research suggests.
                • Evidence that males invest paternally more than research claims. Reid supports the claim humanmales contriute to parenting by providing a stable supply of resources and allowing the family to live healthily.
                  • Some evidence comes from research into chimpanzees and bonobos whch could be non applicable to humans.
                    • Rowe suggests an explanation based n evolutionary factors is severly limited as its reductionist and ignores the importance of the quality of the mother;'s relationship with the father.

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