Formation of Romantic Relationships

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Reward/Need Satisfaction Theory AO1 (4+8 marks)

  • Argues that a long term relationship is more likely to be formed if it meets the needs of the partners and provides rewards.
  • Byrne and Clore (1970)
    • state that most stimuli on our lives is viewed as rewarding ( these meet our needs, such as financial security etc..) or punishing.
    • rewarding stimuli produces positive feelings in us and punishing stimuli produces negative feelings in us.
    • according the the principles of operant conditioning we are likely to repeat any behaviour that leads to a desirbale outcome and avoid behanviour that leads to an undesirbale outcomes
    • Byrne and Clores theory suggests, therefore, that we enter into relationships because the presence of some individuals is driectly associated with reinforcement, which makes them more attractive to us. 
    • we also like people who are associated with pleasent events. if we meet someone where were feeling happy were more inclined to like them and vice versa.
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AO1 Points- 4 Marks

  • in this way a previous neutral stimulus can become positively valued through its association with a pleasent event
  • Byrne and Clore believed that the balance of positive and negative feelings was crucial in relationship formation.
  • relationships where the positive feelings outweigh the negative feelingswere more liekly to develop ans succeed whereas, vice versa, they were likely to fail. 
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AO2/AO3 points (8 marks)

  • Griffit and Guay (1969):
    • Participants were evealuated on a creative task by an experimenter and then asked to rate how much they liked the experimenter.
    • this rating was highest when the experimenter had positively evaluated the participants' performance on the task.
    • this supports the claim that we like some individuals because they provide direct reinforcement 
    • participants also had to say how much they liked an onlooker.
    • the onlooker was rated higher in the condition where the performance of the participant had been positively evealuated. In fact, pp's rated both experimenter and onlooker the same. 
    • This supports the claim that we also like people who are associated with pleasent events. 
  • Aron et al (2005) found that participants who measured very high on a self-report questionnaire of romantic love also showed strong activity in particular areas of the brain including the ventral tegmantal area.
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AO2/AO3 points (8 marks)

  • Early-stage, intense romantic love was associated with elated levels of activity in subcortical reward regions of the brain, rich in the neurotransmitter dopamine.
  • Cate et al (1982) asked 337 individuals to assess their current relationships in terms of reward level and satisfaction
    • results showed that reward level was superior to all other factors in determining relationship satisfaction.
    • however, a basic problem with the reward/need satisfaction theory is that it only explores the recieving of rewards, whereas, Hays (1985) found that we gain staisfaction from giving as well as receiving
  • Cultural Differences- 
    • the reward/need staisfaction theory does not account for cultural and gender differences in the formation of relationships.
    • Lott (1994) suggests that in many cultures women are more focused on the needs of others rather than receiving reinforcement. 
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AO2/AO3 points (8 marks)

  • Evolutionary Explanation:
    • Aron et al (2005) suggest that the brain reward system associated with romantic love most probably evolved to drive our ancestors to focus their courtship energy on specific individuals.
    • Even love at first sight, the authors claim, is a basic mammalian response that our ancestors inherited to speed up the mating process.
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