The Formation of Romantic Relationships

Notes on the outline and evaluation of the Filter Theory and Reward/Need Satisfaction Theory.

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Psychology Notes
Relationships <3
The Formation of Romantic Relationships
Filter Theory: Kerckhoff and Davis, 1963 (A01)
They argue that relationships go through stages in which different things are important at different
times. Relationships develop in three stages. At each stage people are filtered out as unsuitable,
leaving a smaller group of `derisible' potential partners.
(AO2/3)Research support/ Contradictory Evidence:
Sprecher (1988): found that couples who matched with physical attractiveness, social background
and interests were more likely to develop a long term relationship.
Kerckhoff and Davis (1962): Conducted a longitudinal study by using a questionnaire over several
months on attitude similarity and personality traits with their partner. Found that student couples who
shared similar attitudes were likely to stay together for up to about 18 months, but after that
similarity became less important and complementary needs became more important.
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.

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Psychology Notes
Relationships <3
(A02/3)Evaluation of studies :
Kurckhoff theory/study:
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
As a result, this research can't be applied to modern relationships.…read more

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Psychology Notes
Relationships <3
enter relationships because the presence of some individuals is directly linked with reinforcement,
which makes them more attractive to us.
CLASSICAL CONDITIONING- We also like people who are associated with pleasant events. If we
meet someone in a good mood, we're much more inclined to like them than if we met them when
we're felling unhappy. In this way, a previous neutral stimulus can be positively valued because of
their association with a pleasant event.…read more

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