Formation of relationships: role of similarity

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Psychology unit 3 relationships revision
Formation of relationships- role of similarity
Description
We choose people who have similar personalities and attitudes to us. From a group
of prospective partners, we sort individuals into 2 groups, those who are different
from ourselves and those who are similar to ourselves. From those who are similar,
we choose someone with similar traits; personality and attitudes being of primary
importance. Where differences occur we modify ourselves to become more similar
to their partners.
Evaluation
Berscheid and Reis- showed that people are consistently attracted to
individuals with similar personality traits to themselves. This shows that
people form relationships with similar personalities so it supports the
theory.
/ Lehr and Geher- gave descriptions of strangers to participants and
found participants liked the descriptions which described similar
personality traits to themselves. This supports the theory as it says we are
attracted to people who are similar to us. However, this study lacks
ecological validity as usually people don't meet a description of someone,
they will meet someone in person.
Rosenbaum- suggests that most couples consist of similar partners not
because of attraction, but because couples which form from different
individuals quickly fall apart through what is called the dissimilarity
repulsion hypothesis. This suggests that a lack of differences may be more
important than lots of similarities in determining whether a relationship will
last of not. This doesn't support the theory as the research says instead of
being attracted to similar people, different people's relationships won't
last.
Deterministic- the theory states that you will go out with someone who is
similar to you. There is no free will over who you go out with which is a
problem as people feel they do have a choice over who they go out with,
whereas the theory states that this doesn't happen.
Caspi and Herbener- found similar couples tend to be happier than
couples consisting of people with different personalities. This supports the
idea that people form relationships with similar people. This study had good
ecological validity as it involved real couples so can be generalised to real
life.
Too much focus on attitude and personality- other traits are important
too such as money, self concept and levels of body fat. Therefore the

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Psychology unit 3 relationships revision
theory is reductionist as it ignores other factors meaning we only get a
limited understanding of how relationships are maintained.
Doesn't explain why some couples have different personalities but still
have successful relationships and this undermines the theory.
Similarity acts as positive reinforcement, so could be linked to the
reward/need satisfaction theory.…read more

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