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 '...an 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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