AQA PSYA3 - Relationships Complete Essays

These are the notes I've created for the relationships chapter of the PSYA3 exam for the AQA board.

They are the essays I learnt word for word for the June 2014 unit 3 exam. Although I haven't got my results yet I created similar notes at AS level and achieved 200/200 UMS, so I will let you know! 

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  • Created by: Claire
  • Created on: 22-06-14 13:33
Preview of AQA PSYA3 - Relationships Complete Essays

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Formation of romantic relationships
One explanation of the formation of romantic relationship is reward/need satisfaction
theory, which was proposed by Byrne and Clore. The theory says that we form romantic
relationships with someone because they are rewarding, and life alone is unrewarding. The
romantic relationship also forms when each partner meets the others needs. Some of these
rewards include sex, love and self esteem, and some of these needs include food and
shelter. (Foa & Foa et al)
The theory suggests that we form romantic relationships with people who reward us
and meet our needs due to operant conditioning. If an individual is providing us with rewards
and satisfying our needs then this creates positive feelings within us. Therefore to
experience these positive feelings again we want to spend more time with the person and
eventually form a relationship with them.
There is research which supports this idea about operant conditioning. Griffit & Guay
gave students a creative task to complete, and the students were then evaluated on this by
an experimenter. The participants then had to rate how much they liked the experimenter. It
was found that those who's task had been positively evaluated (and therefore rewarded)
liked the experimenter more. This therefore shows that we are more likely to like someone
when they reward us, supporting the role of operant conditioning and reward/need
satisfaction theory in forming a relationship.
The theory also suggests that we form romantic relationships with people who
reward us and meet our needs due to classical conditioning. The neutral stimulus (potential
partner) becomes positively evaluated because of an association with a positive event (e.g
our good mood), causing us to find the person more attractive and form a relationship with
There is research which supports the role of classical conditioning. May & Hamilton
asked female students to rate the attractiveness of a male in a photograph, while listening
to either pleasant or unpleasant music. They found that those who listened to the pleasant
music were more likely to find the man attractive. This association therefore supports the
role of classical conditioning in causing us to like someone.
However the reward/need satisfaction theory may actually be a victim on culture
bias. This is because in many cultures women focus less on themselves and more on the
needs of other people around them due to their cultural norms. Therefore this theory may
not be a universal theory for explaining relationship formation, so it cannot be generalised
between different cultures/
Another theory of the formation of romantic relationships is similarity theory which
was proposed by Byrne, Clore and Smeaton. This theory suggests that we are more likely to
form a relationship with someone who shares similar characteristics to our own.
The theory emphasises the importance of personality similarity in the formation or
romantic relationships, and research has been consistent with this idea. Caspi & Herbener
found that couples who had more similar personalities were happier than couples with less
similar personalities, therefore suggesting couples with more similar personalities are more
likely to form a successful relationship, supporting similarity theory.
The theory also emphasises the importance of attitude similarity in the formation of
romantic relationships. When people share attitudes with us, this acts as a reward, and
according to reward/need satisfaction theory this creates positive feelings within us causing

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Research is consistent with this idea.
Lehr & Geher gave 24 males and 32 females a description of a person with either similar or
dissimilar attitudes to their own. It was found that the students preferred those who shared
their personalities, supporting the importance of attitude similarity, one of the key features
of similarity theory.
There is evidence that there is no culture bias in these results, as similar findings have
been found in other cultures, including the USA and Singapore.…read more

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Equity doesn't necessarily mean equality though,
equity is where the partners rewards minus their costs equals the other partners rewards
minus their costs.
There is research which supports equity theory. Stafford and Canary asked 200
married couples to complete a measured of equity and relationship satisfaction
questionnaire, and found that satisfaction was the highest when the relationship was
equitable. This therefore supports equity theory as it shows the importance of equity in
maintaining an enduring relationship.…read more

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Rollie and Duck (2006) proposed a 6 stage model of relationship breakdown. Within
each stage there is a threshold which must be met before moving onto the next stage. At
stage 2, 3 and 4 the relationship can breakdown. The first stage is breakdown stage, where
one partner becomes dissatisfied with the relationship. They then move into the intrapsychic
processes stage where they focus their attention inward and resentment for their partner
builds.…read more

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I find you very attractive". They then either said "Would you go on a date with me",
"would you come back to my apartment", or "Would you have sex with me". They found
that 50% of females and 50% of males would go on a date, 6% of females and 69% of males
would go back to their apartment, and 0% of females and 75% of males would have sex with
them.…read more

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This means
human infants are immature so are dependent on their mothers for longer in terms of
breastfeeding. Something which can only be done by females. Females also invest more than
males due to parental certainty. Human reproduction happens inside the female, so she is
certain she is the biological parent, where as males cannot be sure of this. Males don't want
to waste resources investing in a child which isn't carrying his genes as his genes will not be
passed to the next generation.…read more

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Finally, Rowe (2002) suggests that explanations of PI based on evolution are
reductionalist. This is because men's behaviour as a parent may depend on a number of
other factors such as how they were treated by their own father, and personality traits. This
is a problem as it suggests evolution is not the only factor influencing parental investments,
and that we need to also account for any other factors which may also influence PI.…read more

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However Erwin (1993) claims that gender differences have actually been
oversimplified and many similarities do actually exist. This suggests that claims by Richard &
Schneider are false and that childhood friendships act as a training ground for romantic
relationships is both sexes.
Evidence that early childhood relationships can influence later romantic relationships
can also be found by looking at animal studies. Suomi & Harlow (1978) found that rhesus
monkeys reared with inadequate peer contact later displayed inappropriate social and sexual
behaviour as adults.…read more

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This therefore supports the suggestion that a strong emphasis on
romantic relationships in western cultures may unduly amplify feelings of loneliness.
The influence of US romantic comedies creates a warped idea of the perfect
relationship, presenting a culturally biased view of romantic relationships to the world.
Therefore children exposed to these idealised views of romantic relationships see these
relationships as the norm, decreasing their satisfaction with future relationships.
To investigate this, Johnson & Holmes (2009) spent a year analysing 40 top box
office films.…read more


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