A2 Psychology Relationships

Formation Of Relationships: Why people form romantic relationships with other people

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Basic Start To Relationships

For people to form relationships contact is essential, most meet face-to-face but nowadays it is possible for people to form relationships online and to contact each other through social media and texting. Living near someone or working near them allows them easy contact but physical proximity is not longer so important because of technological improvements.

Physical appearance is also important in creating relationships. What makes people attractive is a combination of architechural factors and dynamic factors and these tend to evolve over time.

Murstein's match hypothesis looks at what is our most desired physically attractive quality, we try to find someone who is similar to us in levels of attractiveness so that we don't need to fear rejection. This can also be applied to friendships where the pair are fairly evenly matched in levels of physical attractiveness. Byrne proposed the 'law of attraction' which looks at similarities in attitude and interests because more similarities tends to mean easier communication. Having a similar socio-economic background and education is also important in the formation of relationships.

Hill, Rubin and Peplau also found similarity in race, class and religion were important factors in dating couples and pairs of friends. 

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Filter Model

Kerckhoff and David - relationships develop through three 'filters' because different factors are important at different times.

Before we assess potential partners in our filters we look at our 'field of availables' [the people we could have a relationship with] and then our 'field of desirables' [the people we want to have a relationship with]. We then move onto the three filters:

Social/Demographic Variables: we are unaware of this filter, we tend to mix with others who are similar to us. People who come from far away or have different backgrounds are rarely encountered or interacted with.

Similarity of Attitudes and Values: if attitudes and beliefs are similar the couple is much more likely to progress, if they are very different they tend to think differently about the world.

Complementarity of Emotional Needs: how well each of the couple can satisfy the others needs and wants.

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Evaluation of Filter Model

A factor which is important at one point in a relationship may not be as important at another point; things such as similar attitudes are less relevant later on in the relationship.

Emphasis on the importance of demographic factors and similarity of attitudes in development of relationships but lots of evidence to show that these continue to be important throughout the relationship.

Division of relationships into stages fails to capture their dynamic nature. Some may develop faster or slower than the filter model suggests.

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Reward Need Theory

For a relationship to continue both involved must be motivated to continue. This theory assumes that a relationship is more likely to be formed if it meets needs and provide rewards.

People enter a relationship with a range of needs these can be either biological needs such as sex or emotional needs such as the need for support and a sense of belonging. Relationships must also provide rewards for those involved, this can be anything from having fun and sharing time together to sharing personal information.

People who are not very close and exchange information in a ***-for-tat manner are known as an 'exchange relationship'. As relationships progress the exchange of information tends to become more voluntary this is known as a 'communal relatipship' where rewards are provided as a result of concern for the partner or a desire to please them.

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Evaluation of Reward/Need Theory

The move from exchange to communal relationship is not specified as an amount of time.

Reward/need theory acknowledges that both rewards and needs are personal to individuals and each individual has an optimal level of social contact.

Smith and Mackie argue that long-term happy relationships meet many needs of those involved whereas unhappy relationships entail unmet needs.

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Katie Hawkins


It's Kerchoff and Davis.

Katie Hawkins


I think you should correct this as people use this site for revision, and if they see this they will learn the inocrrect names.

Katie Hawkins


noobs. uh duh

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