Formation, maintenance & breakdown of relationships studies


Argyle (1987)

Argued against the interdependence theory as he believed that individuals only start to re-evaluate relationships once they have become dissatisfied with them, and not when everything in a relationship is going well.

1 of 13

Lee (1984)

Created the stage model of relationship breakdown after studying 112 couples who had experienced romantic breakups. The five stages of dissolution were identified as:






2 of 13

Duck (1988)

Identified a four stage model of dissolution in terms of the breakdown of romantic relationships, in which all relationships pass through during the breakdown process:





3 of 13

Smith & Mackie (2002)

Suggested that long-term, happy relationships occur when the needs of both partners are met. If these needs are not met sufficiently enough by the other person then the relationship is unlikely to continue. As a whole, this supports the need theory of relationship maintenance.

4 of 13

Veitch & Griffith (1976)

These researchers provide support for the reinforcement affect theory as it found that individuals who interact with others whilst a positive news story is playing rate the stranger more positively than if a negative news story is playing. Similarly, lighting ot a film playing in the background influences the degree to which we are attracted to someone.

5 of 13

Kerckhoff (1974)

Observed that married partners typically came from the same socio-economic and educational backgrounds, and come from the same religious groups as well as having the same intelligence level. This shows similarity may be a key factor in relationship formation.

6 of 13

Kerckhoff & Davis (1962)

Created the filter model which argues relationships filter through three different filters in order to try and reduce the number of potential partners in the field of availables to fewer desired partners in the field of desirables. These three filters include:




Used two groups of couples (one group which had been together for more than 18 months and one for less than 18 months), who then completed several questionnaires over a seven month period which reported views on attitude similarity and personality traits. Results concluded that attitude similarity was the most important factor in relationships around the 18 month stage, but after this stage the ability to meet each others' needs took precedence.

7 of 13

Clark & Mills (1979)

Argued that couples moves from an exhange relationship ("*** for tat" style) to a communal one (desiring to please the partner without the need for mutual agreement.) Making this move is important for couples as it enables the, to form a closer and stronger relationship.

8 of 13

Duck (1982)

 Identified two main types of factors that threaten a relationship:

1) DISPOSITIONAL (PERSONAL) - these include elements such as bad personal habits, changes in interest or poor social skills.

2) SITUATIONAL (ENVIRONMENTAL) - these include boredom, conflict or relocation.

Later, in 1999 Duck also stated that relationships may break down due to lack of skills, lack of stimulation or maintenace difficulties within the relationship.

9 of 13

Byrne & Clore (1970)

Put forward the Reinforcement Affect Theory which claims that both operant and classical conditioning play a part in the formation of relationships. They said that humans learn to associate other people with positive or enjoyable even if they are not directly responsible for the situation, and then desire to spend more time with the person as they become associated with happiness.

10 of 13

Festinger et al (1950)

Studied the effects of proximity on relatinship formation by looking at students living in a university housing complex in the USA. Students who lived at the bottom of the stairs in apartment bloacks had more friends than other on the same floor. Also, there was a higher amount of "foot traffic" by the door so students living immediately by the stairs were more likely to meet other students and form friendships with them.

11 of 13

Walster et al (1966)

Conducted the Matching Hypothesis study by asking students to complete a questionnaire in order to be paired with a similar partner; however the pairing was done randomly. At the end of the dance, students evaluated their date and indicated a preference for future meetings. Results found that physical attractiveness was a key feature in deciding whether to meet the person again. Participants generally identified a oreference to see their partner again if they considered them to have the same level of attractiveness as themselves.

12 of 13

Thibault & Kelly (1959)

Developed the social exhange theory into the interdependence theory. They argued that individuals need to keep an eye on the balance of their relationship and may evaluate their relationship on two levels:

1) THE COMPARISON LEVEL - involves comparing the current relationship with one's view of what a relationship should be like.

2) THE COMPARISON LEVEL FOR ALTERNATIVES  - involved comparing the current relationship with other potential relationships on offer.

An individual may choose to leave a relationship if they feel as though they are always in a "loss"or if the comparison level for alternatives provide a better alternative.

13 of 13


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Relationships resources »