Formation of Relationships Essay

Essay on the formation of relationships, including the filter model and reward/need satisfaction theory.

HideShow resource information
Preview of Formation of Relationships Essay

First 644 words of the document:

Describe and Evaluate two theories of the formation of romantic relationships
In 1970 Byrne and Clore came up with the idea of the reward/need satisfaction theory for the
formation of romantic relationships. The believed that the formation of relationships was linked with
the idea of classical and operant conditioning, with operant conditioning we are likely to repeat
behaviours that leads to a desirable outcome and avoid behaviours that lead to undesirables ones,
so we enter relationships because the presence of some individuals is directly associated with
reinforcement, they make positive feelings in us, which makes them more attractive to us. For
classical conditioning, we tend to prefer people who we associate with pleasant events, so for
example if we meet someone somewhere where we are having a good time, then we will associate
this person with this good time and find them more attractive in the long run. Byrne and Clore
believed that the balance between positive and negative feelings in a relationship formation was
crucial as relationships where the positive outweigh negative feelings were more likely to develop
and succeed.
Griffit and Guay (1969) did an experiment where participants were evaluated on a creative task by
the experimenter, and then asked to rate how much they liked the experimenter. The rating was
highest when the experimenter had positively evaluated the participant's performance on the task.
The participants also had to say how much they liked the onlooker; the onlooker was rather more
highly in the condition where the performance of participants had been positively evaluated by
experimenter. This study provides support for both reinforcement ideas and association ideas.
Although lab experiments do not necessarily show that the principles of reward/need theory simply
apply to real life, the studies lack mundane realism. However some studies have been conducted on
real life couples and have tended to support these claims (Caspi & Herbener 1990)
Another basic problem with the reward/need satisfaction theory is that it only explores receiving
rewards, whereas Hays (1985) found that we also gain satisfaction from giving as well as receiving.
Furthermore, reward/need satisfaction theory does not account for cultural and gender differences
in the formation of relationships. Lott (1994) suggests that in many cultures women are more
focused on the needs of other rather than rewarding reinforcement.
In 1962 Kerckoff and Davis presented another 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 couple.
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.

Other pages in this set

Page 2

Preview of page 2

Here's a taster:

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 the division of relationships into stages fails to capture
their fluid and dynamic nature. Real life relationships flow seamlessly. Some may develop faster and
others slower than the filter model suggests.…read more


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all resources »