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The `Reward-Need Satisfaction' Model Byrne and Clore (1970)
· A01- If each partner meets the others needs, a relationship is more likely to form. The theory suggests that
successful partners act as rewarding stimuli (happy feelings) and others act as negative stimuli (make us un-
happy) according to operant conditioning, we're more likely to repeat desirable behaviour, and thus enter
romantic relationship with a partner acting as rewarding stimuli- they act as positive reinforcement.
· The theory also suggests attraction via association (i.e.- as in classical conditioning.) We tend to like people
associated with pleasant events, for instance, if we meet someone when we're happy we are more likely to like
them than when in a bad mood. This accounts for `holiday romances'- the people we meet on holiday are
associated with the happy times of the holiday. A balance of positive feelings are vital in forming relationships
with the positive over-weighing the negative.
· A02- A strength is...
There's supporting research into this model, such as experiment by Griffitt and Guay. In a creative task, when the
experimenter complimented the art-work, the participants rated the experimenter highly in a post-questionnaire
compared to when the experimenter did not, acting as evidence for direct reinforcement, and hence supporting
the theory. Moreover, participants were also asked to rate an onlooker, and in the condition where the
experimenter had complimented the art work, participants rated the onlooker (confederate) higher than in the
condition where the experimenter did not. This therefore supports the theory because it highlights the indirect
reinforcement of associating people with pleasant events- supporting `attraction via association'
Further research support- Cate et al- 337 participants assessed relationship in terms of reward and satisfaction.
Rewards levels were found to be superior to other factors in relationship satisfaction.
Physiological support- in Cates questionnaire, participants with high rewards levels had elevated dopamine levels.
· however, a weakness is that...
Cultural differences are not considered (ethnocentric) and it is beta bias: in some cultures women are more focused
on needs of others than self reinforcement.
Supporting research is conduced in a lab environment, meaning it lacks mundane realism as it is not generaliseable to
real life (i.e. it has a low ecological validity and is therefore not reliable.)
The theory is reductionist as it only explores gaining rewards, where as other studies have highlighted we gain
satisfaction from giving rewards.…read more
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The `Filter Model' Kerckhoff and Davis
· A01- The theory suggests that we have a `field of availables' (i.e.- potential, available people.) We then `filter
out' potential partners for different reasons at different times through 3 filters, narrowing the list down to a
`field of desirables', the potential people we would consider through the filters.
· Filter one- social and demographic variables- often, we only mix with similar people unconsciously. For
example, we frequently interact with those from the same school, area, job, etc, who are similar in soci-
· Filter 2- once together, there's the `field of similarities of attitudes and values.' If we share ideas, thoughts,
beliefs, etc, it is thought by the filter that interaction is easier, and thus more likely to stay together. (So if
attitudes and values are different, communication is thought to be harder, and therefore the relationship is
likely not to last.)
· Filter 3- Once the relationship has been established into a long term relationship, a filter called `the
complementary of emotional needs' is thought to be important. This filter refers to how well the couple fit
together and if they are able to meet the others needs. For example, you both might want to have children.
· A02- A strength of this theory is that...
There's supporting research, such as a longitudinal study on student couples together bellow and above 18 months,
where participants were giving questionnaires every few months. They reported on attitude, similarity, and
personality traits (i.e.- filters 2 and 3) and found that attitude similarity (f 2) was most important up to 18
months, and psychological compatibility (filter 3) became most important after 18 months, just as the theory
suggests, that we `pass though' this filter system.
However... a weakness is that students are not representative (sample-bias), investigator bias (conducted by the
researcher), questionnaires= social desirability, open to interpretation, demand characteristics.
Spreecher- couples aged 21 with a similar demographic (education and age), who matched on physical
attractiveness, social back-ground, and interests (filter 1 and 2) were more likely to form a long-term
relationship, supporting the importance of filter 1/ demographics in the filter model.
A further weakness is that...
The model is reductionist, as the division of relationships into stages is overly-simplified and fails to account for the
complexity of real life. Hence, the theory has low mundane realism and external validity.…read more
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Economic theories- social relationships are `expensive' in that they use up our time,
resources, and we want to make a profit to keep them.
Social exchange theory Thibaut and Kelley
Suggests we give and receive resources in relationships and assumes that we are trying to
maximise our `rewards' from the relationships and minimise the `costs' (i.e.- put little in,
yet get lots out.) The theory suggests we perform a `cost benefit analysis', where both
parties must think they're in profit if the relationship is to be maintained. Social
exchange theory also says we have minimum comparison levels of profit we are willing
to accept to maintain the relationship (what we thin we deserve.) Comparison levels are
based on past relationships and experience, and what we want from the relationship. If
the cost-benefit analysis is perceived as a profit above this comparison level, then we
are satisfied. However, we may also make comparisons for alternatives, looking at the
cost-benefit of alternative partners- if we judge our current relationship as the most
profitable we are satisfied and the relationship continues.
Equity Theory- Walser et al
An extension of the social exchange theory, saying that people who give little are receive a
lot will also feel dissatisfied. This theory emphasises the importance of achieving
perceived fairness/ equity for the relationship to be maintained. We expect rewards
from a relationship that is proportional to what is put in (i.e.- you put little in, you get
little out, you put lots in, you'll get lots out.) Equity isn't equality, what is `fair' is
subjective and open to interpretation of the person. If perceived as fair, than the
relationship is continued. It is measured by the `perceived ratio of in-puts and out-puts'.
Inequity results in adjustments, demanding less and reducing input into the
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Economic Theories of Maintenance A02
Social exchange theory Thibaut & Kelley
High mundane realism: explains why some women choose to stay in abusive relationships as still deemed a `profit'
situation: when rewards are still high (financial security, family, etc) and alternatives low (e.g.- no where else to go) the
relationship therefore will still be maintained = ecological validity.
deterministic? Does not explain why some people leave relationships despite having no alternatives, and therefore
neglects the role of free-will.
Reductionism: fails to account for the complexity of the human mind, many other factors contributing to maintanence
ethnocentric to a westernised culture: may reflect the way individualistic relationships are maintained, however
does not reflect collectivist cultures where the feelings of the individual is second to the family or cultural group.
Research study: looked at comparison levels - how people in relationships deal with potential threats/ alternatives,
and found that we reduce the potential threat to protect the relationship. Simpson: asked participants to rate opposite
sex on attractiveness and found those in relationships gave lower ratings.
Research support: Marelich looked at sex as a resource. Intimate partner studies demonstrate sex is used as an
exchange resource in relationships and found that deception has became a strategic weapon in the exchange
process. Surveyed 267 students and found males were more likely to lie (e.g.- about caring) for sex, while women
were more likely to have sex to avoid confrontation, promote intimacy and gain approval. Findings suggest that sexual
deception is an important art of the social exchange theory, with sex as pleasure and positive relationship outcomes,
but costs as unwanted sex and deception.
Methodological issues: sample bias US students are not representative of a stable population and other cultures,
extraneous variables not controlled, experiments were naturalistic so not controlled.
nature-nurture debate: neglects the role of biological factors in feelings, e.g.- a relationship may be maintained due
to an increase in a certain chemical/ hormone when with the person.
Beta gender bias different genders may judge a relationship differently and have preference for certain `rewards'
Equity theory Walser et al
Research support: asked 200 married couples to complete a measure of equity and relationship satisfaction. Found that
satisfaction was correlated with equity, being the highest in couples who perceived the relationship to be equitable, followed by
over-benefited partners and last for under-benefited partners = consistent with the theory.
Lack of evidence for the role if inequity US National Survey of Families and Households
Gender differences: men and women may judge equity differently. Married working couples, husbands who earned more =
judged most important, but if the women earned more neither judged themselves as most important.
reductionism: Ragsdale and Bown `an incomplete rendering of married people with respect to one another'
Duck states the cost/benefit analysis only becomes important when an individual is already dissatisfied with the relationship.…read more
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A strength of the social exchange theory is
High mundane realism in that it explains why
women may stay in abusive relationships.
When investments are high (e.g.- children,
finance, security) and alternatives low (e.g.- no
money, no where to go,) it is still deemed a
`profit' situation and thus the abusive
relationship is continued, so is less reductionist
than other maintenance theories.…read more