Maintenance of relationships

unit 3 psychology A2 aqa a

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  • Created by: lauren
  • Created on: 09-06-12 12:48

Social exchange theory - profit and loss AO1/2/3

Profit and loss - assumes that all social behaviour is a series of exchanges - people exchange resources with the expectation that they will gain a profit -th rewards will exceed the costs

Rewards from a relationship could be sex, companiship or being cared for whilst the costs could be time wasted, financial investment and effort expended. 

Commitment to a relationship is dependant upon its profitability - less profitable relationships being more vulnerable to termination

Social exchange being increasingly applied to exchnages between intimate partners - sex used as a resource - deception become a strategic weapon in exchange process - marelich - 267 students - in US - men more likely to use blatant lies about caring to have sex while women are more likely to have sex to avoid onfrontation, gain partner approval and promoyte intimacy - sexual deception is an important part in social exchange process - limited sample - age bias - students thoughts and opinions about sex may be different to those of an older generation - cannot assume all ages have the same opinion - 267 - quite a small sample size - low population validity - culutre bias - study in the US - different culutres may have different opinions - for example non-Western cultures may view sex in a different way and so would therefore have different results 

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Social exchange theory - profit and loss AO1/2/3

Cultural bias - Moghaddam suggests social exchange theory would only apply to relationships in Western cultures and only to short-term relationships among individuals with high mobility - students - long-term relationships within less mobile population groups - non-Western cultures are likely to value security rather than personal profit - suggests social exchange theory doesn't represent a universal explanation of the maintenance of relationships - it is culutrally biased

Limitations (selfish nature of theory) - criticism concerns selfish nature of the theory - claim that people are only motivated to maintain relationships out of selfish concerns - possible these principles only apply to individualist cultures which are characterised by individual concerns - reductionism? explains a complex phenomenom such as maintaining a relationship down to a series of exchanges where it is possible that many other factors are in place such as emotional and psychologicsl factors

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Social exchange theory - comparison level (CL) AO

Comparison level CL - we develop a comparison level against which new relationships are judged - comparison level is the product of experiences in previous relationships as well as expectations of the current relationship

if potential profit from a nbew relationship exceeds the CL it will be judged worthwhile

comparison level for alternatives - CLA - potential increase in rewards from new partner minus the costs of ending the current relationship

Limitations - doesn't explain why people leave relationships despite having no alternative nor does it suggest how great of desparity there needs to be in the CL for the relationship to become unsatisfactory

Real-world app - concept of CLA can help explain why some women stay in abusive relationships - a researcher argues that when investments are high (children+financial security) and alternatives are low (nowhere else to live/no money) it might be considered a profit situation so may choose to stay in relationship

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Equity theory - inequity and distress AO1/2/3

Equity theory - assumption that people stive to achieve fairness in the relationship and feel distressed if they percieve unfairness - Messick and cook

any kind of inequity has the potential to cause distress - people who give a lot and recieve little in return is a sign of inequity. people who recieve a lot and give little in return is seen as inequity - this would leave both partners feeling dissatisfied - greater inequity - greater dissatisfaction

Support - Stafford and Canary - surveyed 200 married couples concerning equity and satisfaction - satisfaction highest for couples who percieved relationship to be equitable - lowest satisfaction who percieved themselves to be under-benefitted

Limitations - Clark and Mills - concern for equity may only characterise relationships between business associates and friends rather than couples - romantic relationships are governed by a desire to respond to the needs of the partner rather than conerns about equity

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Equity theory - inequity and distress AO1/2/3

IDA gender differences - Steil and Weltman - working couples - women generally rated their husbands careers more important than their own - as women tend to seek less in a relationship for themselves - equity less important in relationship satisfaction in real life - challenges the universatility of equity as a determinant of relationship satisfaction

Applications for marital therapy - Larsson - wives compared to husbands more likely to feel distressed as a result of inequity - inequity affects intimacy in wives more than husbands - wives report lower compatibility levels when it is inequitable - suggests attempts to resolve compatibility are doomed to fail unless issues with inequity are addressed first

Research difficult - most research carried out in labs or on restricted samples (students) so they may not tell us much about how real life realtionships are developed or maintained

Use of surveys - social desireability

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Equity theory - ratio of inputs and outputs AO1/2/

Ratio of inputs and outputs - equitable realtionships is when one partners benefits minus costs equals the other partners benefits minus the costs

Perception of inequity in a realtionship motivates a person to try and restore it by for example changing their attitudes or to end the relationship

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