Psychology Unit 4 Relationship Formation

Detailed notes of relationship formation

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Relationship (RS) Formation
Sociobiological Theory;
Evolutionary explanation based on Darwin's theory of evolution.
Theory states ­ ultimate aim of RS formation is to reproduce.
Men and women contribute differently to reproduction, in theory men contribute less as they produce
millions of sperm where women produce comparatively few eggs ­ men able to produce more children
than women.
Additionally, women have to invest themselves a lot more if reproduction is successful and women
becomes pregnant ­ lengthy process of pregnancy and childbirth.
Men seek ­ young attractive females as it is a sign of fertility and good genes.
Women seek ­ man who can provide for her and her offspring (wealth and industriousness).
Buss- Conducted cross cultural study ­ over 10,000 people across 37 different cultures.
B's findings support sociobiological theory as found that men rated youth and attractiveness highly as
well as women rating wealth and industriousness highly.
Additionally B's study strengthens sociobiological theory as the study was conducted cross culturally,
this would suggest that it was innate for people to form RS to reproduce and that cultural socialization
could not be an influence.
Furthermore Dunbar conducted a study where he analyzed lonely hear adverts in the paper, finding that
women were more likely to advertise their age and appearance whereas men would ad what they could
offer (house, cars, etc.)
This supports the sociobiological theory as it is real life evidence that people believe that wealth and
industriousness is important in males and age and beauty in females.
EVALUATION ­ Theory can be seen as reductionist as RS formation is not simply due to intention to
reproduce, this can be seen in homosexual couples and elderly couples. To support reductionist claim
in B's study he found that both men and women rated kindness and intelligence as the highest desirable
characteristic, non of which relate to reproduction.
Theory can be seen as gender bias ­ stereotyping women and men's roles. Not all women are baby
makers, some women choose to be providers.
Lastly it is deterministic ­ suggests we are genetically inclined to seek a partner that will boost our
reproductive success.
Matching Hypothesis
The MH states differently.
It suggests that appearance and good looks is desirable by both men and women, not just men.
MH states that both men and women desire to have the best looking partner.
This is not possible though as the best looking person may not want to be with someone who is not the
best looking, therefore people fear rejection and compromise.
People tend to go with people of the same attraction level as themselves.
Theory was criticized as there are lots of mismatched couples when it comes to appearance.
Theory was later developed ­ couples who are mismatched ­ one being a lot more attractive than the
other, the less attractive partner may have high levels of other socially desirable characteristics (wealth,
intelligence, wit)

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Walster '99 study found that students of Minnesota university were more likely to want a second date
with an attractive girl despite the attraction level of the boy ­ goes against the MH as the 2nd date was
guaranteed if the male desired one, it cancelled out issue of rejection, making the study artificial and
lack ecological validity.
Walster then went on to do a more realistic version of his study.…read more


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