A Level Psychology- Relationships key studies


Clarke & Hatfield (1989)- Mating Strategies

Clarke & Hatfield (1989) had male/ female experimenters approach students on a college campus and said: "Hi, I've been noticing you around campus and I find you very attractive".

They were then asked: (1) Would you go on a date with me?/ (2) Would you go back to my apartment with me?/ (3) Would you have sex with me?

Results: 50/50 agreed to go on a date, 69/6 agreed to go back to the flat, 75/0 agreeded to have sex.

  • cross cultural validity- there's a great differences between attractiveness between cultures, therefore it's not generalisable to the western culture.
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Buss (1989)- Sex differences in mate preferences

Buss (1989) conducted a study involving 10,000 people from 37 cultures. He found that:

1) Women desired men with financial ambition (linked with the ability to supprt a family).

2) Men were more concerned with physical attractiveness and mates that were younger than them (cues of fertility & reproductive value).

3) Both sexes desired intelligence, kindness & dependantability, which all of them are qualities needed for long-term investement in children/ family.

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Walster et al. (1966)- Matching hypothesis

Walster et al. (1966) came up with the matching hypothesis, which is based on social desirability due to individuals choosing their partners based on their own attractiveness & realisitic choices by selecting the best potenital partners who are likely to shae the same level of attraction.

If an individual went for someone "out of their league" in terms of physical attractiveness, they my never find a partner which would put them at a evolutionary disadvantage.

Hypothesis 1: attractive people expect an attractive partner.

Hypothesis 2: couples who are equally matched are happier.

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Walster (1966)- The computer dance study

752 students bought tickets to a computer dance where they gave information about themselves that was inputting into a computer to give them an 'ideal date'.

An unseen obsever ranked attractiveness of the participants and after 2 hours, they were asked how much they liked their partner.

Results: those who were the most physically attractive were liked the most but the male participants asked out their partner regardless of their attractiveness.

  • high ecological validity- generalisable to real-life situations because the students were unaware of the study being conducted so they didn't display demand characteristics.
  • results didn't support the matching hypothesis- due to the male participants asking out their partner regardless on their attracitveness, rather than not asking them out as they're not as equallty attracive as them.
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Collins & Miller (1994)- Self disclosure

Collins & Miller (1994) suggested that self disclosure (when a person reveals personal information to deepen intimacy between potential partners) has been shown to influence attraction in 3 ways:

1) those who engage in 'intimate disclosures' are generally more liked.

2) people disclose more to those they like initally.

3) the act of self disclosure makes us like the personwe're soeaking to.

Altman & Taylor (1973) identified breath and depth as important factors of self disclosure. As the relationship develops, people surpass superficial information and begin to share more detailed and personal information.

Social penetration theory: the gradual process of revealing inner self to someone.

Reciprocal exchange of information between partners deepens the relationship.

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Kerckoff & Davis (1962)- Filter theory

Kerckoff & Davis (1962) explained dating and the formation of a relationship as a multi-step process. An individual 'sifts' through their dates through 'filters' to screen out unacceptable partners.

Filter 1: meeting a small fraction of people that live in our area (proximity filter).

Filter 2: most people we meet are from a similar class, education, ethnicity or racial group.

Filter 3: psychological factors through shared beliefs, values and personalitity factors.

  • used 94 students in short-term and long-term relationships to complete a questionnaire that looked for shared attitudes, values & complementarity.
  • asked 7 months after first questioning, couples were asked how close they felt
  • found that attitude similarity was the most important factor up to 18 months.
  • theory assumes key factors change overtime- face validity (test measures what it claims to).
  • lack of temporal validity- mobile dating means people may persue a relationship outside of usual demographic limits.
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Thibault & Kelley (1959)- Social exchange theory

Thibault & Kelley (1959) proposed the social exhnage theory as the exchange of rewards & costs that orginates from the assumption that people recieve rewards and feel obliged to reciprocate.

A successful relationship would have maximised rewards with minimised costs (theory orignates from economics & operant conditioning).

1) Sampling- consider potential rewards/ costs & compare with other potential partners.

2) Bargaining- give/ recieve rwards to determine if a deeper relationship is worthwhile.

3) Commitment- relationship increases in predictiability so each partner knows how to elicity rewards (costs are lowered).

4) Insitutionalisation- relationship norms are developed/ patterns are established.

  • people have free will (individual differences) & choice- accounts for humanisitic approach.
  • unemprical research/ non-quantifiable concepts; rewards/ costs are superficial & rewards are subjective so they're harder to define.
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Rusbult's investment model (1983)

Rusbult (1983) found that when people were deciding whether to end a relationship, they weighed up the rewards and costs, alternative partners and how much they've invested into the relationship (children/ possessions).

They asked students in heterosexual relationships over a 7-month period to complete a questionnaire on how satisfied they were, how much they'd invested & how commited they felt.

They concluded that satisfaction, comparison for alternatives and investement all contribute to a relation breaking down. Therefore, high satisfaction & investement are important in commited relationships that want to proceed in the longer term.

  • Impett, Bels & Peplau (2002) conducted a longditudinal study on a sample of married couples over 18 months and found hat relationship stability postively correlated with commitment to the relationship.
  • Rusbult & Martz (1995) applied the invetsment model to abusive relationships. They aked women who were living in refuges why they stayed with their partners when the abuse began. They found that the greatest invetement was when the woman's econmoic investement ws poor and their investment was greater.
  • the original study fails to recognise the complexitiy of investement in a relationship; reductionist model.
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Equity theory

Equity theory suggests that people are content in a relationship if the benefits are roughly equal to the costs, if equity isn't achieved/ maintained, dissatisfiaction for the underbeneiftter occurs.

The perception of equity changes overtime; what seemed unfair in the beginning may become a norm as the relationship progresses & the partner will work harder until balance is restored.

  • Utne et al. (1984) found that couples in an equitable relationship were more satisfid than those wo were over/ under benefitting.
  • Mills & Clarke (1982) argued that the theory was too nomeothetic as it's not possible to assess equity as a lot of the input is emotional & unquantifable.
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Duck's Phase Model (2007)- Relationship breakdown

Duck (2007) suggested that relationship dissolution is a process that consists of four distinct stages:

1. Intrapsychic stage: when a person admits they're dissatisfied after spending a lot of time thinking about why they are & ways to move forward.

2.Dyadic stage: when the person voices their dissatisfation to their partner & rethinks alternatives to their current partner.

3. Social stage: the person talks to their friends & family, making their distress public where they will take sides & offer advice.

4. Grave-dressing stage: after leaving their partner, they both construct reasoning to how the relationship broke down by minimising their faults & maxisming the others. They also present themselves as trustworthy & loyal to attract new partners. 

  • model helps to identify stages of relationship breakdown and suggests ways to reverse it at different stages of breakdown as they'll be more effective.
  • reductionist model; to improve, a new phase called the 'ressurection phase' was introduced, where ex-partners used experience from their previous relationships when they turn their attention to potential relationships.
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Virtual relationships theories

1. Reduced cues theory Sproull & Kiesler (1986)- where cues (physical apperance/ emotional state) aren't present in computer mediated communication (CMC). This means that people can lose their identity & act in a different way, which results in bluntness & reluctance to self disclose.

2. Hyperpersonal model Walther (1996)- more personal info./ SD, which can develop faster so it becomes more intimate/ intense but ends faster due to the lack of trust & knowledge of eachother

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