Relationship- Formation Esaay

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Reynu Miah
Discuss two or more theories of formation of a romantic relationship
8+16 (24 Marks)
Formation is seen as the starting of a relationship. The theories I will use to help
explain the formation of a romantic relationship is the `Filter Model' by Kerckhoff and
Davis (K+D) and the `Reward, Need, Satisfaction Theory' (RNST) BY Byrne and Clore.
The filter model by Kerchkoff and Davis identified two fields that people go through
first, `field of availables' and `filed of desirables', `field of availables' are a group of
people we could potentially have a relationship with, and this is filtered down to the
`field of desirables' and these are people we see as potential partners. Kerchkoff and
Davis suggested that in order to for a relationship to form, it must go through 3
filters. Social/demographic, similarity of attitudes and needs and complementarity of
emotional needs. Social/demographic variables filters people without us being aware
to people who share commonality, such as location. Once two people are aware of
each other the next filter is Similarity of attitudes and values, here they share ideas and
beliefs which helps make communication easier for them, if they think very differently
then it could make the progression of the relationship difficult. Once the couple have
set themselves into a relationship, the third filter comes in, `complementarity of
emotional needs', this is about how well two people fit together as a couple and meet
one another's needs. According to K+D this is how a relationship is formed.
Research to support their model is by Kerchkhoff and Davis themselves. They used a
questionnaire with student couples over a 7 month period. They found out that
attitudes and values were the most important factor up until about 18 months into
the relationship, then after that the meeting of emotional needs became the most
important factor. This is seen as a strength because it supports the filter model by
showing that the second and third filters are important in real life relationships, that
similarity of attitudes and values are important up until a certain point but then
complementarity of emotional needs is important later in the formation of the
relationship. This suggests the model has real life application. A problem with their
study is their sample, they were all students, this makes it difficult to generalise their
results to the wider population. This means that the model is only applicable to a
certain group of people. However it was a longitudinal study, meaning there is a
higher level of rich in depth data and higher accuracy in results.
However Levinger et al failed to replicate their study successfully, meaning the
Kerckhoff and Davis study lacks reliability. Therefore it causes doubts about whether
we choose partners based on complementarity of emotional needs. This does not
necessarily mean their theory is false, as there is some individual filters of the model
that are supported by research such as Sprecher, who found people with similar
backgrounds were likely to go on to form romantic relationships. Therefore there are

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Reynu Miah
some aspects that are important to relationships, but something's may work
differently in practise too what Kerckhoff and Davis theorised.
The second theory of formation is the Reward, Need, Satisfaction Theory (RNST), by
Byrne and Clore. Their theory suggests that we are attracted to people who we find
satisfying/gratifying; we are attracted to them if they meet our needs. This theory can
be explained by both, operant condition and classical conditioning.…read more


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