Attraction and the formation of relationships

Everything you need to know about attraction and the formation of relationships A01 and A02 for the psych AQA spec.

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Attraction and the Formation of Relationships
Explanations of interpersonal attraction
1. The sociobiological theory: Evolutionary theory, behaviour is adaptive. Attraction based on looks, youth/ good
health so offspring will be healthy.
Biology: Wilson (1975) attraction can be explained via survival efficiency ­ men want to impregnate as many
women as poss/ women carry one pregnancy at a time = heavy investment, have to make sure he's the right
Buss (1989): survey of 37 cultures in 33 countries: men valued phys. attractiveness more than women women
valued high earning power + occupational status as important both preferred man to be older
Dunbar and Waynforth: analysed 900 US ads: 42% men sought `youthful' female 75% women sought older men
50% describe themselves as `pretty', 34% men used equivalent men mention earning power and exonomic
status. Consistant with SB theory.
Reproduction ­ theory assumes attraction is about reproduction. Homosexuals?
Nonsexual relationships, what about friendships?
Gender stereotypes ­ ethical concerns, endorsing men sexual privileges and not women.
Reductionist and determinist
Modern world ­ Lord (1991) argues this theory is too archaic and irrelevant today.
2. The matching hypothesis: attracted to those with similar level of attractiveness to our own, protection from
rejection of more the attractive.
Walster et al (1996) Computer Dance Study attractive partners were most liked, more attractive couples
wanted to see each other again.
Walster and Walster (1969) followup study, allowed people to meet beforehand. Similarly attractive
couples wanted to see each other again.
Murstein (1972) photos of couples dating or married compared with random couples. Real couples were
judged to be more similar.
Deception of students in CD study
Artificial ­ physical attractiveness is all participants had to go on.
First Stage ­ considers only first stage in rel. In later stages other factors are more important.
Overemphasis on romantic heterosexual couples, what about platonic or homosexual?
Physical attractiveness can be altered if accompanied by vanity, selfishness etc.
Theories of the formation/ maintenance of relationships
1. Social Exchange Theory: Thibault + Kelley (1959) couples thrive when the gain outweighs the cost. Future
relationships determined by past ones. CL: comparison between present and past relationships. CL alt: between
Rusbalt + Martz (1995) women stay in abusive relationships as investment is high (kids), cost of leaving
is higher (broke)
2. Equity Theory: Walster (1978) people strive to achieve fairness in their relationships, not personal gain. `Fair' is
Buunk + van Yperen (1991) married couples were saw their relationship as equitable were most content.
Women under benefited restore equity by having affairs. Twice as many women felt under benefited,
more men than women felt over benefited.
3. Reinforcementaffect model: Byrne + Clore (1970) we get rewards from spending time in relationships life alone is
unpleasant and unrewarding. Positive reinforcement increases likelihood of relationships.
May + Hamilton (1980) female students asked to rate photos of men 1 group listened to pleasant
music, the other unpleasant. Students who heard nice music liked men more.
Oversimple ­ are we as selfish as SET suggests?
Symbiotic vs. parasitic ­ Equity is mutually benefiting, SET & reinforcement is parasitic.
Subjective ­ selfinterest is subjective.
Mechanical ­ SET + ET are mechanistic, there's not always rationale in couple formation.
Shortterm ­ research has only looked at shortterm relationships.
Mills + Clark (1979) identified a `communal couple' able to be selfless for the one they love.
Cultural Bias ­ Moghaddam agruges theories are based on western values
Gender ­ Lott (1994) in some cultures, more emphasis on females being attentive to `needs'.
Early stages ­ Reinforcement more relevant to early stages where attraction more important.

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Context ­ reinforcement wouldn't increase attraction always, i.e. when a man goes to a hooker.…read more


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