A2 - Psychology - Understudied relationships

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  • Created by: jkav
  • Created on: 07-01-16 12:25

Research relating to same-sex relationships - Desc

Research relating to same-sex relationships - Description


  • Early studies found partners in gay couples were dissimilar expect in age but recent evidence (e.g. Kurdeck) shows partners in lesbian and gay couples to be similar in age, income and education.
  • Lesbian couples are the most similar and gay couples the least (Kurdeck and Schmitt).


  • Blumstein and Schwartz found that lesbian and gay relationships were shorter than married or cohabiting hetrosexual ones. Kurdeck found relationships between lesbians were shorter than between gay men.
  • Gottman et al found similar rates of relationship dissolution for same-sex couples as hetrosexual ones although most dissolutions were between lesbians.
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Research relating to same-sex relationships - Desc

Research relating to same-sex relationships - Description

Relationship satisfaction

  • Kurdeck and Schmitt found that partners in gay and lesbian couples, unlike hetrosexual ones, were similar in their love for their partners.
  • Gottman et al found that same-sex couples, like hetrosexual ones, were most satisfied when relationship benefits (e.g. companionship) were high and costs (e.g. conflict) were loew.
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Research relating to same-sex relationships - Eval

Research relating to same-sex relationships - Evaluation

  • Kurdek and Schmitt used well-matched samples. However, the sample was biased as more married couples were from one geographical area, were wealthier and had been together the longest.
  • Kurdek's sample was mainly white and well educated so were not representative.
  • In longitudinal studies (e.g. Kudek and Gottman et al) the researchers can identify whether relationships in which partners are most satisfied are those that survive. In sanpshot studies (e.g. Kurdek and Schmitt) this can only be assumed.
  • Lesbians report being more satisfied in relationships but they are just as likely to break up as gay men (Kurdek). This may be because self-reports are subjective; lesbians may simply report more positive aspects of their relationships.
  • Gottman et al used physiological measures of communication between partners, which is more objective.
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Explanations of mediated relationships - Descripti

Explanations of mediated relationships - Description

Reduced cues theory

  • Computer-mediated communication (CMC) lacks direct social cues, such as eye contact. Culnan and Markus (1987) reduced cues theory suggest this makes it less effective than face-to-face (FtF) communication.
  • The lack of cues may lead to deindividualisation fostering aggressive behaviour and making relationships more difficult.

Social identity model of deindividualisation effects (SIDE)

  • The SIDE suggests that CMC can lead to deindivudalisation but this is because people feel annonymous within a group and adopt the group's social identity. Reduced cues hide differences, and stereotypes enhance similairties, strengthening social identity. This shared identity can help relationship formation within the group.
  • As this social identity also causes the internalisation of group norms ot can explain why people ignore normal social controls and become more aggressive. Mason suugests that is how cyberbullying operates.
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Explanations of mediated relationships - Evaluatio

Explanations of mediated relationships - Evaluation

Reduced cues theory

  • Early research found people were more aggressive and that it was harder to reach agreement using CMC, than when FtF, supporting Culnan and Markus theory.
  • However, emoticons etc. make CMC effective, e.g. allowing people to flirt and maybe helping men to express emotions more easily (Whitty). Slower replies can indicate intimacy (Walther and Tidwell) and the existence of cyberbullying suggests CMC readily conveys emotion.
  • Walther showed that reduced cues are unimportant as, although slower to form than when FtF, impressions of other people based on CMC were just as strong.

Social identity model of deindividuation effects (SIDE)

  • Spears et al supported SIDE by showing that anonymity strengthens social identity and CMC friends form strong relationships.
  • CMC carries the risk of deceptio, which can be protective or dangerous. Lying is found along the lines predicted by evolutionary theory e.g. men exaggerating their income.
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