A2 - Psychology - Formation of relationships

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: jkav
  • Created on: 10-11-15 14:18

Sociobiological explanations - Description

Sociobiological explanationas - Description

  • Selection pressures acting in the EEA affected men and women differently because females invest more in each child than males.
  • This difference in parental investment means females reproductive success is maximised by having a few well looked after children but males increase their reproductive success by mating frequently with fertile partners.
  • So the sexes have evolved to look for different characteristics in a mate, women seeking wealth and power, men seeking fertility (youth and health).
  • Physical attractiveness also contributes through the halo effect: we attribute other positive characterisitics to good-looking people.
1 of 6

Sociobiological explanations - Evaluation

Sociobiological expalantion - Evaluation

  • Dunbar and Waynforth studied personal ads and found men look for young, attractive mates and advertise their wealth to attract women, supporting the sociobiological explanation.
  • Buss found cross-cultural similarities in women's desire for wealthy men and men's desire for fertile (young, attractive) women.
  • The babyface hypothesis suggests men are attracted to young-looking women not for their fertility but because evolutionary pressures have made adults like (and therefore care for) babies.
  • Physical attractiveness is advantageous, e.g. leading to lighter criminal sentences (Stewart) abd better marks for students (landy and Sigall).
  • But sometimes attractive people are disadvanatged e.g. getting longer sentences if they used their looks to commit a crime (Sigall and Ostrove).
  • Walster et al. proposed the matching hypothesis - that people seek the closest match to their own attactiveness level, rather than the most attractive person, thus avoiding rejection.
  • Evoultionary explanations suggest genes predispose rather than determine. Genetic factors (nature) interact with our environment (nurture) to produce mate choice.
2 of 6

Matching Hypothesis - Description

Matching Hypothesis - Description

  • It suggests that ideally individuals may desire the most physically attractive partner.
  • Proposes that relationships are formed based on matching terms of socially desirable characteristics, mainly physical attractiveness.
  • Extended further to account for 'mismatched' couples, individuals may also be matched on other socially desirbale attributes e.g. intelligence or atheticism
3 of 6

Matching Hypothesis - Evaluation

Matching Hypothesis - Evaluation

  • Walster's (1966) study conflicts because it found that men wanted attractive women no matter of their own rating and therefore showed no relation to matching.
  • However, this is unrealistic - in real life people are not allocated a partner, they have to face the fear of being rejected by another person, therefore lacks ecological validity.
  • Walster (1969) provided support for this explanation finding that students chose someone of the same level of attarctiveness.
  • Murstein (1972) found that photo's of steady/engaged couples were rated as significantly more similar in terms of physical attractiveness by independant judges compared to randomly paired couples - support the explanation.
  • However, lacks ecological validity - judging photos is not the same as judging the attractiveness of someone we really meet. We might take other factors into account when meeting in real-life, e.g. weight, height, posture, dress-sense.
  • Ethnocentric because it fails to recognise that in mahy cultures relationships are often not voluntary for example where arranged marriages are practised. This suggests its ethnocentric because can't be applied across all cultures.
4 of 6

Social exchange theory - Description

Social exchange theory - Description

  • Thibaut and Kelley suggest commitment to a relationship depends on 'profits' (e.g. care or sex) being greater than 'costs' (e.g. time or money wasred).
  • The four stages of a relationship are: sampling (comparison), bargaining (exchange of rewards), commitment (lowered costs) and institutionalisation (cost norms develop).
  • Experiences and beliefs lead us to have 'comparison level' (CL) against which a relationship is judged.
  • If our comparison level for alternatives judges a potential new relationship to be more profitable than an existing one, we would change partners.
5 of 6

Social exchange theory - Evaluation

Social exchange theory - Evaluation

  • Rusbult and Martz used social exhange theory (SET) to explain why women stay in abusive relationships (needs of children or financial security outweigh costs).
  • Marelich et al found that sex has associated profits (e.g. pleasure, approval, intimacy) and costs (unwanted sex, guilt) so part of the social exchange process.
  • Simpson et al found people rated members of the opposite sex as less attractive if they themselves were in relationships already, which ensured their current partner still met their comparisions level.
  • Comparison levels can't explain when a relationship is inadequate or why people leave relationships without an alternative.
  • SET focuses on individuals but relationships are social,i.e. involve communciation and shared events. The theory may be less relevant in collectivist cultures.
6 of 6

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Relationships resources »