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  • Created by: Natasha
  • Created on: 27-12-12 10:02

A01 Reward and satisfaction theory

The reward/need satisfaction theory proposed by Byrne and Clore (1970) proposes that relationships form by the motivation to seek rewarding stimuli to make us feel positively. Threfore the theory suggests rewarding stimuli makes us feel satisfied as we feel our needs have been met, these could include sexual gratification, emotional support or financial support. Additionally the theory proposes mutual attraction occurs when each person meets the needs of their partner, which can also include sharing common interests. 

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A02 Grifft and Guay, creative evaluated positive

Supporting the concept of mutual attraction in terms of apparent conditioning, Criffit and Guay (1969) found that when participants were evaluated on a creative task by an experiments then asked to rate how much they liked the experimenter then asked to rate how much they liked the experimenter, that the rating was highest when experimenter had positively evaluated the participants performance. 

This suggests that the experimenters positively evaluation was a rewarding stimuli for the participant as afterwards they had rated the experimenter highly, supporting reward/need as evaluating participants highly could be seen as showing common interests as high evolution shows appreciation and as a result rewarding and fulfilling satifaction. 

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A02 Lab

However this study was conducted in a labatory setting, an issue with this is that in real life extraneous variables would be present, while lab experiments control variables this as a result may not be applicable to real life therefore lack in ecological validity. For example from the knowledge of individual differences, individuals needs may differ therefore one persons needs fulfilled may feel more gratified than another’s proposed needs. The others needs may be that they want more resources not sharing common interests.

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A02 Reductionist

However this study focuses on the idea of the reward of praise creating satification whereas in real life relationships there are more factors that an create rewarding feelings such as company and emotional support, which is not present in this study. Therefore this study can be criticised for not reflecting real life relationships as relationships from other studies have shown that relationships are more complex than this study suggests.

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A02 Cate et al, values reward highest

On the other hand, Cate et al found that 337 individuals claimed that they valued reward levels as superior to all other factors determining relationship formation in their current relationships, and therefore probably important in the initial formation for a relationship, supporting reward and need theory. This suggests that even though studies show that there are other factors, the role of reward plays an important role in relationship formation. 

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A03 Deterministic

However reward/need satification theory assumes that people are totally selfish and only concerned about the rewards they receive. The theory suggests we only like people because of the pleasures we can get our of them. But in real life most of us recognise that relationships work by give and take. The theory ignores that we can gain satisfaction from giving as well as receiving. Therefore it could be suggested that reward need theory takes a very reductist approach to an explanation of relationships, as it does not consider how individuals may perceive relationships or how other influences could change our needs that we find rewards. For example a change in politicites could change how certain people live their life’s in terms of resources’ – therefore the theory does not take into account the complexity of relationships formation. 

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A01 Filter model

Another theory that may be a more suitable explanation for the formation of relationships as it takes into account each others needs, is the filter model proposed by Kerchoof and Davis (1967). The filter model suggests that relationships develop through 3 filters, whereby we filter out potential partners at different times, for different reasons. Furthermore the theory suggests we gradually narrow the ‘field of availables’ to a ‘field of desirables’ through seeking similarity of social and demographic variables, then by similarity of attitudes and values. Finally, if an individual in a relationship does not feel there is complementary of emotional needs, their partner may be filtered out at this stage. 

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A02 Gender Bias

However, the theory can be criticized for having gender bias as Belsen (1992) argued that complementary resources may be more important than complementary needs to women, whereas men universally have higher priority to good looks in their female partners than women in their male partners. This suggests that as the theory ignores differences between gender, generalising the theory to both genders may lack in external validity therefore this limits our overall understanding of formation of relationships. 

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A02 Nurture, no explanation

Also it can be argued that the theory ignores the reasons why these is a filter which could be cause the theory only focuses on the nurture side of the debate rather than nature. This is because the nature side of the debate can suggests reasons why there is a filter down to evolutionary approach such as there is less likely rejection if similar therefore mating is more likely to be successful. As a result just by relying on this theory to explain formation, limits our understanding as it does not provide an explanation why, whereas other theories can.

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A02 Similarity > psychological compatibility

On the other hand, Kerchoof and Davis found that attitude similarity was the most important factor up to 18 months and after this time psychological compatibility become most important, which shows the idea that similarity is an important factor in relationships, thus supporting the filter model. 

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A02 Matched, more likely to develop LTR

It could be argued that this finding shows little about formation of relationships and only shows that similarity is an importance in maintenance. However, Sprecher (1998) found that couples who were matched in physical attractiveness, social background and interests were more likely to develop a long term relationships, which shows that similarities can be an importance in formation of relationships, this supporting Kerchooof and Davis findings and concept of filter model.

Additionally, the findings do show that there is a transition between filter stages, suggesting the filter model has high ecological validity as the Kerchoof and Davis study reflects filter stages in real life relationships. 

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A02 Retrospective

However, the study relied on findings from questionnaires, this is an issue as use of retrospective data can be subjected to social desirability and demand characteristics, which can skew results and consequently makes the findings unreliable.

In conclusion, reward/need theory and filter model both suggest plausible suggestions of why we form relationships and how we go about choosing our partners, but both theories only focus on the social approach and ignore the possibility of biological reasoning, whereas other research has found positive correlated links to our ancestral line and our mate choice. Therefore both theories could be criticised for have a very narrow and determinist approach to our formation of relationships resulting in limiting our overall understanding of relationships and reasons for why they are formed and maintained.     

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