essay plans for relationships, gender and eating disorders

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The formation of romantic relationships
S- One theory for the formation of relationships is the reward/need satisfaction theory by Byrne and Clore
1970. This theory states that we find people attractive if they are satisfying and gratifying. In our lives we come
across a lot of different stimuli, we then classify them as being either rewarding or punishing for us. The sort of
things that we find rewarding tend to reflect our unmet needs (e.g. the need for company, financial security).
Mutual attraction therefore occurs between partners whom have met each other's needs.
E- Rewarding stimuli produce positive feelings within us (e.g. make us happy) whereas punishing stimuli
produce negative feelings (make us unhappy). As most stimuli in our lives are people, some people make us
happy, whilst others will make us feel unhappy.
E- The process of operant conditioning means we are likely to repeat any behaviour that will lead us to a
desirable outcome and avoid behaviours that don't. Byrne and Clore's theory therefore suggests, we will enter
relationships because the presence of some individuals is directly associated with reinforcement for positive
feelings, this makes them more attractive to us.
S- But we also like people we associate pleasant events with.
E- We are more inclined to like people we meet when we are in a good mood than if we are in a bad mood.
E- This is because of the principles of classical conditioning. We associate a previously neutral stimulus with a
positive event and a good mood, as a result of this they become positively valued.
P- There are many pieces of research to support the reward/need satisfaction theory. One of these is by Griffit
and Guay (1969) they give evidence to show the importance of rewards.
E- Their theory proposes that we like some individuals because they provide direct reinforcement.
E-In their research, participants were evaluated on a creative task by an experimenter and then asked to rate
how much they liked the experimenter. This rating was highest when the experimenter had positively
evaluated the participants on the task.
L-This supports the reward/need satisfaction theory by showing how mere reinforcement of positive feelings
by being rewarded can determine if you like someone.
P-However, the reward/need satisfaction theory does not account for cultural and gender differences in the
formation of relationships.
E-Lott (1994) suggests that in many cultures women are more focused on the needs of others rather than
receiving reinforcement.
L-This suggests that this theory is not a universal explanation of relationship formation and therefore culturally
P-There is further research support for this theory by Aron et al.
E-They found that participants who measured high on a self-report questionnaire of romantic love also showed
strong activity in particular areas of the brain, including the ventral tegmental area.
E- Also early stage, intense romantic love was associated with elevated levels of activity in subcortical reward
regions of the brain, rich in the neurotransmitter dopamine.

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L-This supports the theory as it states reward regions are associated with romantic love which explains why
relationships begin and develop.
S-The similarity theory by Byrne, Clore and Smeaton (1986), the essence of this view is that similarity promotes
E-People first sort potential partners for dissimilarity, then from the remainder they choose somebody who is
similar to themselves.
E-Research has consistently demonstrated that people are more likely to be attracted to others who have
similar personality traits.…read more

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The maintenance of romantic relationships
Social exchange theory ­ Thibaut and Kelley
PROFIT & LOSS ­ according to this theory, individuals attempt to maximise their rewards and minimise their
costs. In our society, people exchange resources with the expectation that they will earn a `profit'. Rewards
include: being cared for, companionship and sex. Costs may include: effort, financial investment and time
wasted. Commitment to a relationship is dependent on its profitability, with less profitable relationships being
more vulnerable to termination.…read more

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Equity theory ­ Walster et al
INEQUITY & DISTRESS ­ People strive to achieve fairness in relationships and feel distressed if they perceive
unfairness. Inequitable relationships exist when a person perceives that they ; give a great deal in a relationship
and get little in return or receive a great deal and give little in return. Both are inequitable relationships and
would leave them feeling dissatisfied. The greater the inequity, the greater the dissatisfaction.…read more

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The breakdown of relationships
Three main reasons for relationship breakdown ­ Duck
1. LACK OF SKILLS - Some people lack interpersonal skills to make relationships mutually satisfying. These
include being poor conversationalist and poor at indicating interests in others. Others then perceive you as
not being interested in maintaining the relationship and so the relationship breaks down.
2.…read more

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A model of the breakdown by Rollie and Duck
The first phase begins when one of the partners become distressed with the way the relationship is going.
Inequitable relationships are more likely to create dissatisfaction, this realisation could lead to the first step in
the eventual breakdown of the relationship.
This leads to an intrapsychic process, nothing is said directly to the partner but may be expressed through
other methods such as a diary. It's a state of withdrawal.…read more

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Sexual selection
In most sexually reproducing species males are more brightly coloured than their female counterparts, like the
example of the peacock's tail. Darwin explained how they helped enhance reproductive success. He came up
with his theory of sexual selection, describing two processes through which it took place.
Intrasexual selection (mate competition) is when members of one sex compete with each other for access to
members of the other sex.…read more

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The logic of sexual selection explains how although being choosy require time and energy, the costs of mate
choice can even impair survival in some cases. The rationale behind sexual selection is that random mating is
essentially stupid mating. It pays to be choosy, as the genetic quality of a mate will determine half the genetic
quality of any offspring. Low-quality mates will be more likely to produce unattractive, unhealthy offspring.…read more

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Parental investment
The most obvious sex difference in human parental investment is that human males can opt out of parental
investment in a way that females cannot. As females devote a large part of their reproductive effort on
courtship and mating, this means they invest more. This leads to being more discriminatory in their choice of
partner, and males will compete with other males for access to the higher-investing females.…read more

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Research support:
Extra-marital affairs:
The expense of childrearing means that females want to ensure good quality offspring so they don't waste
their efforts. One way to marry a man who has good resources and is caring, but shop around for good genes
through extramarital affairs with "studs" (attractive men advertising good genes but no resources). Baker and
Bellis estimated that as many as 14% of the population were products of extramarital matings.
Some women may attempt to cuckold their partners.…read more


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