Maintenance of Romantic Relationships (4+8 marks)

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Equity Theory: AO1 Points- 4 marks

  • Walster (1978) agrred that people wigh up rewards and costs within relationships but argues that people have an expectation to that relationships should be fair 
  • According to equity theory, couples keep an eye on what both they and thier partner are putting in and getting out of the relationship
  • If this is roughly equal they are likely to feel satisifed with the relationship 
  • If this is unequal, with one partner putting in a great deal more effort, or getting more out, the realtionship will be experienced as inequitable leading to the 'loser' feeling distressed and dissatisfied and the 'winner' to feel guilty.
  • If the relationship is of relatively short duration one partner may simply end it.
  • If the couple have been together a long time they may be motivated to repair the relationship by restoring equity.
  • This is done by:
    • reducing inputs
    • increasing outputs/rewards  
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AO2/AO3 points (8 marks)

  • Clark and Mills (1979) disagreed with the claim that all relationships are based on economics.
    • they distinguished between exchange relationships and communal relationships.
    • although exchange relationships may involve keeping track of rewards and costs, communal relationships are governed more by a desire to respong to partners needs.
    • there is still some concern with equity, but partners tend to believe things will balance out in the long run
  • DeMaris (2007) investigated whether marital inequity is associated with later marital disruption.
    • using 1500 couples as part of the -US National Survey of Families and Households- he found that the only subjective index of inequity associated with disruption is a womens sense of being under-benefited, with greater under-benefit raising the risk of divorce.
  • Ragsdale and Brandau-Brown (2007) reject the claim that inequity is a key determinant of relationship satisfaction.
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AO2/AO3 points (8 marks)

    • They argue that this represents ' incomplete rendering of the way in which married people behave with respect to each other', and that equity theory is, therefore, an insufficent theory to explain marital maintenance. 
  • Gender Differences:
    • Steil and Weltman (1991) found that, among married working couples, husbands who earned more than their wives rated their careers as more important than their wives' careers.
    • In such couples the women generally also rated their husbands' careers as more importnant than their own.
    • however, in couples where the womens income exceeded the mans, neither partner rated their career ar more important.
    • Researchers concluded that: 'wives' tendency to seek less for themselves that comparable men msking comparable contributions...impeded the achievment of equality at home.'
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AO2/AO3 points (8 marks)

  • Cultural Bias:
    • Moghaddam (1998) suggest that such 'economic' theories only apply to Western relationships and even then only to certain short-term relationships among those with high mobility. 
    • One group of people who fit this description are students in western societies. they are typically very mobile and experience many short-term relationships.
    • When there is little time to develop long-term commitment, it makes sense to be concerned with give-and-take.
    • However, long term relationships within other less mobile population groups, particularly in non-traditional societies, are more likely to value security than personal profit.
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