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Describe and Evaluate two theories of the formation of
Kerckoff and Davis (1962) presented a form of relationship formation
theory known as the filter model. They believed that we have three filters that
are important at different times before we can enter a relationship. We start
with a field of availables , those who are free for relationships and gradually
narrow them down using different stages to a field of desirables, and those who
we would consider as potential partners. The first filter is the social and
demographic variables where we tend to pick people with similar educational
and economic background to us. The second filter is the similarity of attitudes
and values, where people with different values, attitudes and interests to us
are filtered out. The third stage is the complementarity of emotional needs
where we decide how well between the two people they fit together as a
Kerckoff and Davis (1962) then tested their model in a longitudinal study
using student couples that had been together for more or less than 18 months.
They completed several questionnaires over 7 months which reported on
attitude similarity and personality traits with their partner. They found that
attitude similarity was the most important factor up to about 18 months into a
relationship, after this time psychological compatibility and the ability to meet
each other's needs became important, supporting the idea of the filter model.
However, thins study is dated, conducted 1962- This means that there is
low historical validity as the research was conducted at a more conservative
time when western ideals based on love were dominant and an imposed etic
was also present- Ignores important differences or variations in relationships,
for example between cultures or in same-sex couples.
The filter model is a useful way to think about factors that are influential
in relationship development and when they might come into play. It also
emphasises the importance of demographic factors and similarity of attitudes
and values as filters in development of relationships, evidence shows this
continues in relationship survival.
However, Gruber-Baldini et al (1995) found that couples who were similar
were more likely to be together 20 years later, suggesting that similarity
continues to be important. That strengthen the validity of the experiment.
Furthermore, Kerchkoff used a student population in his study- therefore
this research may not be generalised to older or different members of society
and adult relationship formation.
In addition, the Filter theory fails to take into account individual
differences. In real life, people give importance to different factors. The filter
model is a 3-stage theory ,which makes it quite artificial and fails to capture
the dynamics and fluency of relationships. In real life, relationships change and
develop, some flow faster/slower and these factors cannot fit neatly into stages.
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Therefore the filter theory can't be applied to all relationships and is an
incomplete explanation for relationship formation.
Moreover, the filter model is reductionist as it simplifies complex
relationships down to three stages. There is more to relationships than the
theory states as the filter theory fails to explain love and other factors that may
lead to the formation of relationships.…read more
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Furthermore, Aron et al (2005)-found that participants who measured
high on a self-report questionnaire of romantic love also showed strong
activity in particular areas of brain, including the ventral tegmental area.
Intense romantic love associated with high levels of activity in subcortical
reward regions of brain, rich in dopamine. Brain reward system associated with
romantic love most probably evolved to drive our ancestors to focus their
courtship energy on specific individuals.…read more