AQA A Psychology A2 Relationships (Formation of Relationships) Revision Notes

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Formation of Relationships
Reward/Need Satisfaction Theory:
Rewards and Punishments:
Rewarding stimuli produces positive feelings in people making them happy. Punishing stimuli
produces negative feelings in people making them unhappy. Some of these stimuli can be
associated with people.
According to operant conditioning, we are more likely to repeat an action if it gives a
desirable effect.
This theory suggests that we enter relationships because some people are associated with
reinforcement, making them more attractive.
Attraction through Association:
We can also like people through association. So if we meet someone when we are feeling
happy then we would be more inclined to like them if we meet them when we are feeling
So, a previous neutral stimulus can be associated with pleasant events. Hence, we learn
through classical conditioning.
Byrne and Clore believe that it is crucial to have a balance between positive and negative
feelings. Relationships where positive feelings outweigh the negative feelings are more
likely to succeed.
There are 2 stages in the formation of relationships:
People sort potential partners for dissimilarity, avoiding those whose personality and
attitudes appear to be different to theirs.
They are most likely to choose from those who are similar to them.
Research has shown that people are more likely to choose someone who has similar
personality traits as themselves e.g. two people who are serious and hardworking are more
likely to be attracted to each other than one being serious and the other having no sense of
However, similarity is often the rule in long-term relationships. Research has shown that
married couples who have similar personalities tend to be happier than couples with less
similar personalities.
Research also suggests that a process of `attitude alignment' occurs, when partners modify
their attitudes so they become similar, allowing the relationship to develop.

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Formation of Relationships
However, similarity is important as we assume those who are similar to us are more likely to
like us. Hence, ruling out dissimilar people reduces the chance of rejection.
It can also be rewarding when similar people share attitudes.…read more


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