Formation and Maintenance of Relationships

Attraction and Formation - Formation + Maintenance (Theories)

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  • Created by: Marie
  • Created on: 20-05-09 10:17

Theory 1: Reinforcement affect Model (BYRNE and CLORE, 1970)

We enter into a relationship because the individual concerned creates positive feelings in us, which makes them more attractive to us.

A02: Limitations

  • Explores only one factor that may affect liking
  • Probably only relevant to certain kinds of relationships
  • Does not account for gender and cultural differences

A01 -

  • Operant conditioning - We like some individuals because they provide us with direct reinforcement (i.e. they make us feel good.
  • A02: This is supported by... GRIFFIT and GUAY (1969) who found that participants rated an experimenter more highly if he or she had given them a positive evaluation.
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  • Classical Conditioning - we like some individuals because they are associated with pleasant events.
  • A02: This is supported by... GRIFFIT and GUAY (1969) who found that onlookers were also rated more highly when the experimenter had rated participants positively.
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  • Affect - these feelings lead to either a postive (if they make us feel happy) or negative (if they make us feel unhappy) evaluation of the individual concerned.
  • A02: This supported by... CUNNINGHAm (1988), who found that men who watched a happy movie later interacted more positively with a female and disclosed more to her.

(Operant + Classical Conditioning - Affect)

Commentary on learning theory:

Learning theory, which underlies this approach, is supported by well-controlled experimental research.

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Theory 2: Social exchange theory (THIBAULT and KELLEY, 1959)

The formation of relationships is a two-way process, involving an interaction between two partners, each with their own needs and expectations.

A02: Strengths

  • This theory is relevant to many different kinds of relationships
  • It can explain individual differences between and within individuals

A01 - Stages in the development of a relationship

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THIBAULT and KELLEY (1959) believed that there were four stages in the development of a relationship

  • Sampling - consider potential benefits and costs of a new relationship and compare it other relationships available at the time.
  • Bargaining - as the relationship develops, partners give and recieve rewards; this tests whether a deeper relationship is worthwhile.
  • Commitment - predictability increases; each partner knows how to elicit rewards from the other, and costs are lowered.
  • Institutionalisation - norms are developed within the relationship; establishing the patterms of rewards and costs for each partner.
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A02: Limitations of four stages:

  • The theory ignores the social aspects of relationship
  • If focuses only on the selfish nature of relationships
  • It ignores 'fairness of exchange' rather than simply seeking a profit

A01 - Profit and Loss - In any relationship, individuals try to maximise their rewards (profit) and minimise their costs (loss).

A01 - Comparison Level (CL) -A produce of our experiences in other relationships together with what we might expect from this one. Relationships that exceed our CL are judged worthwhile.

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  • This is supported by... RUSBULY and MARTZ (1995) who used this theory to explain why some women stay in abusive relationships.
  • However... ARONSON and LINDER (1965) found that increases in reward, rather than constant reward are crucial.
  • This is supported by SIMPSON et al. (1990) who found participants who were involved in a relationship gave lower attractiveness ratings to possible opposite sex alternatives (persumably to protect their own relationships).
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