A brief summary of 2 relationship formation theories: Matching Hypothesis and the Reward/Need Satisfaction Model. Enjoy!

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  • Created on: 06-01-13 14:40
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Formation of relationships.
Matching Hypothesis:
couples seek to form relationships with the best possible partner they
think they can attract that won't reject them. Thus, it is observed that
couples have similar levels of attractiveness.
2 hypotheses:
1) More socially desirable a person is (for example, in physical
appearance), the more desirable they would expect their partner to be.
2) Couples who are matched in terms of social desirability are more likely
to have a happy relationship than couples who are mismatched.
Walster et al (66) ­ The Computer Dance Study.
-tested the matching hypothesis by inviting university students to a `get
acquainted' dance.
-Each student was asked to complete a questionnaire so that a suitable partner
could be picked for them (along with being rated for physical attractiveness by
-However, the pairing was done randomly. At the end of the evening, they
were asked to evaluate their partner and comment on whether they would like
to meet up with them again.
-FOUND- regardless of their own level of physical attractiveness, participants
reacted more positively to physically attractive date.
This showed that physical attractiveness was greater than the `matching effect'
or fear of rejection.
Walster (69) conducted an extension where they allowed the ps to mix before
meeting (recreating a more real-life condition).
-FOUND- participants paired up with people who were perceived to be of a
similar level of attractiveness--supporting the matching hypothesis.
Reward/need satisfaction model (Byrne and Clore '70):
-suggests that rewarding aspects of the relationship are emphasised which
then helps with the formation of it. This formation is based around the
behaviourist principles of classical and operant conditioning.

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if a behaviour is followed by a desirable consequence, it becomes more
frequent. While if it is followed by an undesirable consequence, it
becomes less frequent.
Thus, being in a relationship is positively reinforced as it brings out
rewards such as companionship, sex and intimacy.
It is negatively reinforced by the individual not wanting to be lonely or
sad.…read more


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