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Formation ­ Reward-Need Theory (AKA
Reinforcement Affect Theory)
Behaviourist approach
Classical conditioning: association of nice feelings (unconditioned response)
from a unconditioned stimulus with a person (neutral stimulus) nice
feelings occur (conditioned response) when with that person (conditioned
E.g. meet somebody at an event that usually generates nice feelings such as a
wedding, then associate these feelings with that particular person
Operant conditioning: relationship is rewarding ­ nice feelings, affection,
material rewards (jewellery), companionship, sex, status ­ all of which
reinforce the relationship…read more

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Veitch and Griffit (76)
Lab experiment with two conditions:
Good news on radio (UCS) played to female ppts by male confederate (NS)
Bad news on radio played to female ppts by male confederate
Ppts rated confederate more highly when good news was played on the
Helps to support the idea that relationships are formed through
association of nice feelings (UCRCR) from an UCS with a person
(NSCS)…read more

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Cunningham (88)
Rozin, Millman and Nemeroff (86)
Male ppts watched either a happy or sad movie and later interacted with
female confederate
Those who'd watched the happy movie interacted more positively and
disclosed more information with the stranger than those in the other
Ppts asked to smell a shirt worn by either a liked or disliked person (in
reality, same shirt was used for all trials)
Shirt was considered less desirable when it was thought to have been
worn by a disliked person…read more

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Ethnocentric: self-centred Western ideas Deterministic: assumes that if we associate
(applies to individualistic cultures but good feelings with somebody then this will
maybe not collectivist). result in the formation of a positive
relationship and vice versa but we have
Most of the research was conducted in free will so we may form a relationship with
America therefore the theory may be somebody that we met at an event that
culturally biased. would usually generate negative feelings
thus we cannot say that a positive
E.g. theory doesn't explain formation of relationship will inevitably form if the
relationships in which marriages are circumstances in which two people met
arranged generated positive feelings.
E.g. relationship forming after a funeral
Reductionist: reduces complex behaviour
to one oversimplified factor and ignores Don't all respond to rewards in the same
other factors BUT this allows more scientific way ­ implications of shallowness (sex,
research as it's easier to control variables status etc.).
(so replicable) and also it makes it easier to
understand and analyse.…read more

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F+M ­ Social Exchange Theory ­
Thibaut & Kelly (95)
A rational, economic model which suggests relationships are formed/maintained on the
basis of a cost-benefit analysis ­ Homans (61)
SAMPLING ­ costs and rewards (C+R) of relationship explored
BARGAINING ­ negotiation, C+R are agreed
COMMITMENT ­ C+R stabilise, focus on relationship itself
INSTITUTIONALISATION ­ expectations firmly established
Our level of satisfaction is thought to be determined by our:
CL ­ comparison level based on past relationships is considered
CLalts ­ CL based on potential alternative rels. is considered*
* ­ if CL or CLalts is bad i.e. other options are better, then rel may breakdown…read more

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