Formation, maintenance and breakdown of romantic relationships

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  • Created by: PhoebeLea
  • Created on: 13-04-15 00:26
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  • Relationships (formation, maintenance and breakdown)
    • theories of formation
      • reward/need theory OR satisfaction (classical and operant conditioning)
        • Bryne and Clore - 1970
          • relationships are formed with people who meet our sexual needs and provide rewards
          • if the rewards offered by one meet the needs of the other, the rel.ship develops
          • Smith and Mackie - 2002
            • LT happy rel.ships meet many needs of the 2 involved, whereas unhappy ones entail unmet needs
          • Rusbult and Lange - 1996
            • rewards are important in determining rel. development
            • people who don't know ptnr well often exchange rewards of a 'tit for tat' basis
          • May and Hamilton - 1980
            • female p.s evaluated images of men while listening to rock (+ve), modern (-ve) or no music
              • p.s gave more +ve evaluations when listening to rock
                • shows associations are made with potential partners (+ve = more attraction)
            • being attracted to someone doesn't mean a rel. is more likely, other factors are important (match, opportunity etc)
        • overemphasis on reward
          • other rel.s (e.g. parent and child) don't seem to be driven by reinforcem.t
            • therefore reward may not be important in rel. formation
              • in this case, rewards are more long term than  immediate
        • fairness underestimated
          • HAYS: friendships seem to indicate we are concerned with equal fairness forboth parties, not just maximising our own
            • degree of mutual liking is important for friendship formation
              • therefore, model doesn't focus on reciprocity so doesn't explain these rel.s
        • cross cultural/gender research highlights the rewards associated with rel.s varies between cultures and genders
          • e.g. women may be socialised into putting their needs second to others due to societal pressures
            • this would mean the reward mechanism is different for women and men, and also women across different cultures
              • for example, Lott: their reward might not be how much they personally benefit but how far they are seen as caring to others
                • this suggests culture and gender bias in the theory as it mainly applies to Western cultures where the pursuit of personal happiness in the formation of rel.s is more important than in other cultures
                  • the theory is therefore not generalisable to all cultures and so can be accused of Beta bias and having a Eurocentric POV
        • CLASSICAL (association):
          • e.g. prior to meeting someone, partner has no response (NS)
            • person then feels happy due to surroundings (party etc) and associates partner with this feeling
              • then, whenever person meets partner (now a CS), person feels happy (CR)
                • therefore, rel.ship is more likely
        • OPERANT (consequence):
          • rel. is +vely reinforced with rewards (sex, companionship, intimacy, financial security)
            • also more subtly by raising self-esteem as they have an ally
              • rel. is -vely reinforced by persons wanting to avoid loneliness/sadness
                • also more subtly by lack of heated arguments about disagreemt.s
      • the filter model
        • Kerckhoff and Davis - 1962
          • relationships develop in three stages
            • at each stage, people are filtered until individual is left with most desirable partners
              • STAGE 1: social/ demographic
                • most people mix with those who are similar (e.g. same living area, college, work etc)
                  • larger groups from other areas aren't encountered therefore small selection of people
                  • these people are often similar in educational background/social class
                • individual characteristics play small role in S1, emphasis on background
              • STAGE 2: similarity of attitudes/ values
                • communication easier if ideas/beliefs are shared so rel. more likely to progress and vice versa
              • STAGE 3: complimentary of emotional needs
                • how well people work as a couple and how far they fulfill each others needs
        • division of relationship into stages
          • fails to capture fluidity/ dynamic nature of rel.s
            • some rel.s develop faster/ slower than model suggests
              • therefore cannot use model to predict course of all rel. developm.t as it doesn't always apply
                • doesn't account for course of each individual rel. so not necessarily generalisable
                  • E.G. online dating....
                    • filter doesn't accurately represent individual's current culture
                      • e.g. nowadays more common to meet people online
                        • therefore can meet people from other areas/schools  etc, so S1 doesn't apply
                          • so model has low external (historical) validity
        • theory cannot explain arranged marriages
          • in these, even if the partners don't share interests, they still have to stay together
            • this contradicts S2, as they cannot filter out people with different interests or values
              • also contradicts S3 as partners may not fulfill each others needs but still must stay together
                • therefore, the filter model is not generalisable to all cultures, and ignores the experience of non-Western couples
                  • it therefore displays Beta bias and offers a Eurocentric POV
                    • this means we cannot gain a full understanding of relationship formation or maintenance from the filter model
    • theories of maintenance (economic theories - 'business deals')
      • equity theory (ET)
        • Walster - 1978
          • became clear that, for most people, profit was less important than fairness in rel.s
            • accepts claims of SET that people keep an eye on costs and ben.s but disagrees that rel.s are totally selfish
              • rel.s are maintained by aiming for fairness for both parties
        • different to SET when a rel. is inequitable
          • both theories recognise that the person putting more effort in can be dissatisfied
            • ... however, ET also recognises person making less effort will be dissatisfied due to guilt
        • not all couples
          • Clark and Mills - 1979
            • some couples work 'communally' and WANT to love and care for each other
              • ... they do not see it as 'business deal-like' and so don't keep tallies of costs/ben.s but instead assume it will all be evened out in the long-run
                • therefore, these people are happy to accept there are times when input is inequal
                  • ET doesn't recognise such couples, therefore we cannot gain a full understanding of rel. maintenance through this theory
                    • some types of couple are not represented
        • invalid explanation of real-life rel.s
          • Feeney - 1994
            • state equity is not actually this important in real life
              • simple cost/ben. analysis is too simplistic for sophisticated modern-day couples
                • also, research on ET seems to be contrived and simplistic, therefore not very good support for the model and more research is needed
          • Ragsdale and Brandau-Brown
            • LT rel.s don't work with ET as reasons for staying together are more complex
              • e.g. ET cannot explain rel.s in which one partner requires constant care yet couple stays together
                • simple cost/ben. analysis is too simplistic for sophisticated modern-day couples
                  • also, research on ET seems to be contrived and simplistic, therefore not very good support for the model and more research is needed
        • cultural/ gender differences
          • research doesn't support the view that ET is applicable to genders in all cultures
            • this can be supported by Aumer-Ryan, who interviewed men+women at Uni. of Hawaii (individualist. culture) and at Uni. of West-Indies (collectivist culture)
              • found a cultural diff. in how men and women reacted to perceived rel. inequalities...
                • Jamaica: most satisfied when overly benefitting
                  • for both men and women, equity was less important for satisfaction
                • Hawaii: most satisfied when equitable
                • therefore, ET represents a culturally biased explanation on factors influencing rel. satisfaction
                  • additionally, this model is not representative of genders in different cultures and is therefore Beta biased
                    • we therefore cannot gain a correct and complete (representative of all cult.s) understanding of the factors
      • social exchange theory (SET)
        • selfish: for individual, best outcome is to be overben.ing
          • commitment depends on profitability of outcome (reward - cost), rel. likely to end if there are more costs and fewer rewards
            • "ensure the 'bank balance' remains in surplus"
        • Thibault and Kelley - 1959
          • comparison level (CL)
            • comparison between current rel. and what we believe is appropriate/ previous experience
          • comparison level for alternatives (CL Alt)
            • = perceived ben.s of potential alternatives
          • 4 stage model of LT rel.s (how rewards/costs are explored + established
            • STAGE 4: institutionali-sation
              • interactions established, couple has settled down
            • STAGE 3: commitment
              • couple settles into rel., exchange of rewards becomes relatively predictable
            • STAGE 2: bargaining
              • couple 'costs out' rel. and identifies sources of profit and loss
            • STAGE 1: sampling
              • couple explores rewards/costs in a variety of relationships
        • research support
          • Simpson - 1990
            • investigated how people deal with threat of potential alternatives (CL Alts)
              • p.s rated opposite sex for physical attractiveness
                • found p.s who were in rel.s gave lower ratings
                  • being in a rel. had the effect of lowering the perceived benefits of a potential new partner, so lowered any threat to the existing rel.
                    • therefore indicated people do weigh up costs/ benefits of alt. rel.s
                      • provides support for model as it gives evidence for CL Alts model
        • abusive relationships
          • would assume the costs are higher than benefits
            • so why would people remain in the rel.?
          • Rusbult and Martz - 1995
            • social exchange theory can explain why women remain in abusive rel.s
              • when investments are high (e.g. children, finsncial security) and alternatives are low (e.g. no home /money), even an abusive rel. may be seen as 'profitable'
                • therefore, this is the motivation to stay together
                  • therefore, supports the theory because, in some abusive rel.s the costs/ben.s are weighed up
        • SET has Western (Beta) bias
          • this is supported by Moghaddam - 1998
            • suggests it only applies to Western cultures and even then only to certain types of rel. among those with high social mobility
              • less mobile groups and members of non-Western cultures would be more likely to value security in a rel. than personal profit
                • for example, arranged marriages cannot be explained by SET as when costs outweigh benefits they have no choice about whether to stay
                  • therefore, SET is culturally (Beta) biased as it is using Western experience to generalise all cultures and countries
                    • the experience of some cultures (for example some Asian cultures) and is therefore not representative
    • theories of breakdown
      • Rollie and Duck - 2006
        • refined Duck's original model (1982) to focus on the processes, e.g. patterns of communication that typify rel. breakdown
          • improved on Duck's 4-stage model as it's less simplistic, more realistic and takes into account the lack of fixed pattern in rel. breakdown
        • 6 PROCESSES model
          • PROCESS 1: breakdown
            • 'turning point', one party reaches point where consider if rel. should end. if things don't improve and satisfaction is low enough, move to P2
          • PROCESS 2: intrapsychic processes
            • individual examines rel., may see partner -vely, social withdrawal to heal + assess position/ dissatisfact.n, thinking not communicating
          • PROCESS 3: dyadic processes
            • after person declares resentment, problems are aired and disputed. rel. can be saved through effective communication + a resolve to address prob.s. can alternatively show weaknesses leading to breakup
          • PROCESS 4: social processes
            • intention to split is publicised, advice from fam/friends may mend rel. or delay conclusion. both partners justify split, sometimes blaming the other. longer this goes on = more likely to split
          • PROCESS 5: grave-dressing
            • 'official' account formulated by both parties. these often differ. important that their account doesn't deter future potential partners so shed +ve light on selves
          • PROCESS 6: resurrection
            • person moves on, learns from mistakes, considers what they want in future.' picking self up, dusting off and moving on
        • heterosexual bias
          • model developed from the experience of heterosexual rel.s
            • therefore may not represent experience of other groups e.g. gay/lesbian
              • similarly, within heterosexual rel.s, there are many divergences and types e.g. dating, cohabiting, married
                • therefore differences in these types of rel. are not necessarily represented, unlikely that processes experienced will be the same
                  • (Beta bias)
        • gender diff.s
          • women benefit more from dissoloution, they get more post-rel. growth
            • also get more social support than men so PROCESS 4 is less important for men
              • therefore model cannot necessarily be applied to both parties in a couple
        • Beta biased
          • most research is based on data from White, middle-class individuals
            • rel.ships are affected by culture they're in, so for example social expectations within that culture will affect them
              • e.g. in cultures where divorce is frowned upon, the social processes stage (4) will happen differently or not at all, due to such couples not wanting to publicise breakup
                • therefore, Rollie and Duck's model is not representative of the whole population, meaning it cannot be generalised to all cultures
                  • it displays Ethnocentric bias and non-Western individuals' experiences are not taken into account (Beta)
      • evolutionary explanations
        • predictions
          • costs of emotional investment
            • Buss: women hold partner's resources higher, meaning they experience higher costs (female rejectees as opposed to male rejectees) when losing emotional investment of partner
          • increasing commitment
            • Perilloux + Buss: women value emo. commitment higher, so males threatened with breakdown may employ strategies to exploit this. may attempt to maintain sexual access through signals of increasing emo. investment (e.g. cohabitation/marriage/ children)
          • infidelity
            • Buss + Schmitt: males evolve desire for sexual variety. infidelity can serve this by gaining them sexual access to more females. alternatively can be used as a tactic to end rel. and find a replacement mate quicker. therefore, males more likely to commit infidelity
          • reputational damage
            • Perilloux + Buss: rejectors fear being seen as cruel by peers as this may adversely affect chances of rejector obtaining a new or long-term mate, therefore rejectors motivated to reduce chance of rep. damage by behaving sympathetically towards partner during break-up
        • Perilloux and Buss
          • found women reported higher levels of cost from losing partner's emo. commitment
            • more males reported success at preventing breakup through increasing commitment
              • male rejectors reported infidelity more than females
                • rejectors indicated higher cost to being viewed as cruel/ heartless
                  • concluded men+women employ diff. strategies to cope , which depends largely on role in breakup
                    • therefore demonstrates sig. differences in breakup experience of each partner and in costs depending on gender
                      • therefore supports evo. model as states men+women require different things from a rel.
                        • e.g. women want resources, men want sexual variety
        • ultimate and proximate causes
          • ultimate causes = adapted characteristics that evolved to solve problems ancestors faced in the EEA
            • Nichols: argues such explanations put too much emphasis on ult. causes and ignore prox. causes
              • supported by Gibbons: cultural diff.s in viewing/ enacting breakup and dealing with loss of partner
                • these diff.s can be attributed to local, modern-day forces and traditions rather than adaptive problems faced by early humans
                  • therefore model overestimates role of nature and undermines that of nurture
                    • we know prox. causes are important because the media influences behaviour
                      • for example, Made in Chelsea has an impact on behaviour of teens and young-adults

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