PSYA3 Relationships

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The Formation of Romantic Relationships
Reward/ Need satisfaction theory
We are attracted to people who we find satisfying or gratifying to be with.
We are motivated to seek rewarding stimuli and avoid punishing stimuli.
Operant conditioning
Rewarding stimuli produce positive feeling in us, and punishing stimuli produce negative feelings.
We enter relationships because the presence of some individuals is directly associated with reinforcement,
making them more attractive to us.
(+) (Griffitt and Guay, 1969) When participants were evaluated on a creative task by an experimenter then
asked to rate how much they liked the experimenter , they found that this rating was highest when the
experimenter had positively evaluated the participants performance on the task.
(+) (Cate et al., 1982) 337 individuals assessed their current relationships in terms of reward level and
satisfaction. They found that reward level was superior to all other factors in determining relationship
() (Hays, 1985) it only explores the receiving of rewards. We also gain satisfaction from giving and receiving.
() Does not account for cultural or gender differences beta biased. (Lott) in many cultures women are
more focused on the needs of others than receiving reinforcement, suggesting reward/need satisfaction is not
universal and that cultural differences should be taken into account.
Classical conditioning
We like people who are associated with pleasant events.
A previously neutral stimulus can become positively valued because of their association with a pleasant
Relationships where the positive feelings outweigh the negative feelings were more likely to succeed and
(+) Griffitt and Guay, 1969) as above^, participants were also made to rate how much they liked an
onlooker. the onlooker was rated more highly in the condition where the performance of the participant had
been positively evaluated by the experimenter. The participant rated both the experimenter and the onlooker the
() (Aron et al., 2005) suggests evolutionary explanation. Participants who measured very high on a
selfreport questionnaire of romantic love also showed strong activity in the ventral tegmental area of the brain
associated with pleasure and reward, supporting the role of reward in choosing a partner. The brain reward
system associated with romantic love evolved to drive our ancestors to focus their courtship energy on specific
individuals to speed up the mating process.
Filter Theory Kerckhoff and Davis (1962)
Field of availables Field of desirables
Social/ demographic variables
Proximity filter We only meet a very small fraction of the people living in our area.
Similarity filter they will be of a similar social class and education to ourselves & possibly the same ethnic
or racial group.
(+) (Hill, Rubin and Peplau, 1976) found similarity of race, class and religion in dating couples.
(+) (Sprecher, 1998) found that couples who were matched in physical attractiveness, social background
and interests were more likely to develop a longterm relationship.
() Reductionism reduces it down to simple filters which means it may ignore more complex issues and
other factors.
Similarity of attitudes and values
People with different attitudes and values & beliefs are filtered out. If couples share ideas & beliefs,
communication should be easier and more likely to progress.

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Lehr and Geher) Students were given a description of a stranger with varying degrees of similarity of
the strangers attitudes to the participants. They then rated the stranger and found that participants rated the
stranger higher of they were more similar to them.
() Research on similarity has only dealt with attitude and personality similarities. (Yoshida, 1972) only
represents a very narrow view of factors important in relationship formation, with factors such as similarity of
selfconcept, economic level and physical condition being equally important.…read more

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Reallife application (Rusbult and Martz, 1995) For women in abusive relationships, when investments are
high e.g. children and financial security, and alternatives are low this could still be considered a profit situation
and women might choose to stay in such a relationship.
Equity Theory
People who give a lot in a relationship and don't get much in return perceive inequity and would become
dissatisfied in the relationship. Also, those who receive a lot and give little in return would also become
dissatisfied.…read more

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Reallife applications: (Cina et al., 2003) couples who had couples coping enhancement training (CCET)
had higher marital quality compared to the control group.
Gender differences: (Kassin) women are more likely to stress unhappiness and incompatibility as reasons
for breakup while men blame lack of sex. (Argyle) women identified lack of emotional support as a reason for
breakup while men cited absence of fun, again suggesting gender differences that the model does not explain.
Maintenance difficulties
It is strained because they can't see each other.…read more

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Evolutionary psychologists suggest that sexual selection has created gender specific reproductive
behaviours. These can be in terms of mating preferences or mating strategies.
According to evolutionary psychology, females mating strategies involve being choosy about their partners
because females have to invest a lot of time in having and bringing up offspring, and because the number of
offspring they can have in a life time is limited. By comparison, males can potentially mate with an unlimited
number of females and invest little.…read more

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Parental Investment
Maternal and Paternal Investment
Maternal investment
Maternal investment is substantial and considerably greater than that made by males. A female produces
far fewer gametes over the course of her lifetime than the male produces.
For our distant female ancestors, the minimum parental investment would have been a ninemonth
pregnancy, which involves feeding the foetus from her own supplies of nourishment, followed by at least two
years of breast feeding.…read more

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Harris, 2003) men tended to respond with greater arousal to any sexual imagery, which challenges the
view that sex differences in jealousy are an adaptive response in males and females.
Ethical issues: There are ethical issues concerning protection from harm, as the it may cause
psychological harm in having the participants imagine their partners committing infidelity. It also may bring
back bad past memories or cause psychological harm if one of the participants has been effected by this in
their relationship.…read more

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Epstein, 2002) Divorce rates are low for arranged marriages and in about half of them spouses have
reported that they have fallen in love with each other.
(Myers et al., 2005) No differences were found in marital satisfaction between individuals in India living in
arranged marriages, when compared to individuals in nonarranged marriages in the US.
(Xiaohe and Whyte, 1990) women in China who had married for love felt better about their marriages then
women who had experiences arranged marriages.…read more

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awesome thanks! 

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