Psychology - Relationships

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Formation of Romantic Relationships

The Reward/Need Satisfaction Theory (Byrne & Clore, 1970) Part 1 

  • If we ask someone why they're attracted to partner, might say partner is attractive, supportive, loving or good fun
  • suggests we're attracted to people we find satisfying/gratifying to be with
  • most stimuli in our lives can be viewed as rewarding/punishing in some way 
  • we are motivated to seek rewarding stimuli and avoid punishing stimuli
  • things we find rewarding usually reflect our needs (e.g company, financial security)
  • mutual affection occurs when each partner meets the other person's needs
  • one person might need financial security while the other craves love
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Formation of Romantic Relationships

Reward/Need satisfaction theory (Byrne and Clore, 1970) Part 2

Rewards and punishments

  • rewarding stimuli produce positive feelings in us
  • punishing stimuli produce negative feelings
  • given that some of these stimuli are people, follows that some people make us happy and others do not
  • Operant conditioning - suggests we're likely to repeat behaviour that leads to desirable outcome and avoid behaviours that lead to undesirable outcome
  • B + C's theory suggests we enter into relationships because the presence of some individuals is directly associated with reinforcement
  • this makes them more attractive to us 
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Formation of Romantic Relationships

Reward/Need satisfaction theory (Byrne and Clore, 1970) Part 3

Attraction through association 

  • we also like people who are associated with pleasant events
  • if we meet someone when we are feeling happy (positive mood), much more inclined to like them than if we meet them when we are feeling unhappy (negative mood)
  • previously neutral stimulus can become positively valued because of association with pleasant event
  • therefore, we learn to like people through classical conditioning
  • B+C believed balance of positive and negative feelings was crucial in relationship formation
  • Relationships where positive feelings outweigh negatives - more likely to develop and succeed
  • Relationships where negative feelings outweighed positive, likely to fail
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Formation of Romantic Relationships

Reward/Need satisfaction theory (Byrne and Clore, 1970) Part 4 

Evaluation

Research support

Evidence for importance of reward: Griffitt and Guay (1969)

  • Participants evaluated on creative task by experimenter and asked to rate how much they liked experimenter
  • rating was highest when experimenter positively evaluated (rewarded) participant's performance on the task

Evidence for need satisfaction through FB use: Sheldon et al (2011)

  • discovered greater FB use positively correlated with both positive and negative indicators of relationship satisfaction
  • 'connected' people are those whose sociability motivates their FB use and satisfies relational needs to reach out to others
  • 'disconnected' people lack satisfaction through face to face relationships, use FB as a coping strategy
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Formation of Romantic Relationships

Similarity (Byrne, Clore and Smeaton 1986) Part 1

  • Essence of this view - similarity promotes liking
  • according to this model, 2 distinct tages in the formation of relationships
  • people first sort potential partners for dissimilarity, avoiding those whose personality/attitudes appear too different from their own
  • from those remaining, they are most likely to choose somebody who is siilar to themselves
  • Byrne et al's model emphasises similarity of personality and of attitudes

Personality

  • Research consistently demonstrated people are more likely to be attached to others who have similar personality traits than they are to those who have dissimlar or complementary traits
  • Caspi and Herbener (1990) - found married couples with similar personalities tend to be happier than couples with less similar personalities

Attitudes

  • research suggests process of 'attitude alignment' often occurs
  • partners modify attitudes so they become more similar
  • in order for relationship to develop, one or both partners may modify attitudes
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Formation of Romantic Relationships

Similarity (Byrne, Clore and Smeaton, 1986) Part 2

Evaluation

Similarity or dissimilarity?

  • Rosenbaum (1986) suggested dissimlarit rather than similarity was the more important factor in determining whether a relationship will develop
  • Dissimilarity-repulsion hypothesis has been tested in a number of different cultures 
  • Singh and Tan (1992) in Singapore, Drigotas (1993) in USA
  • studies established that participants were first attracted to each other because of similarity of attitudes and that, as they got to know each other better, those who discovered more dissimilarities than similarities became less attracted to each other

Limitations

  • research on similarity has only dealt with attitude and personality similarities
  • Yoshida (1972) pointed out this represents only a narrow view of facors important in relationship formation
  • factors such as simiarlity of self concept, economic level, physical condition are equally important
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Maintenance of Romantic Relationships

Social Exchange Theory (Thibaut and Kelley, 1959) Part 1

Profit and Loss

  • assumes that all social behaviour is a series of social exchanges
  • individuals attempt to maximise their rewards and minimise their costs
  • in our society, people exchnge resources with the expectation they will earn a profit
  • rewards we may receive from a relationship include being cared for, companionship, sex
  • costs my include effort, financial investment and time wasted
  • rewads minus costs equal the outcome (either a profit or a loss)
  • social exchange, similarly to other 'economic' theories of behaviour, stress commitment to a relationship = dependent on the profitability of this outcome
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Maintenance of Romantic Relationships

Social Exchange Theory (Thibaut and Kelley, 1959) Part 2

Comparison level

  • Thibaut and Kelley proposed we develop a comparison level - a standard against which all our relationships are judged
  • Comparison level is a product of experiences in other relationships together with our general views of what we might expect from this particular exchange
  • if we udge that potential profit in new relationship exceeds our CL, relationship judged as worthwhile and other person seen as attractive as a partner 
  • if final result is negative, will be dissatisfied with the relationship and the other person is thus less attractive
  • related concept is the comparison level for alternatives
  • person weighs up a potential increase in rewards from a different partner, minus any costs associated with ending the current relationship
  • new relationship can take the place of current one if profit level is significantly higher
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Maintenance of Romantic Relationships

Social Exchange Theory (Thibaut and Kelley, 1959) Part 2

Evaluation

Profit and loss

  • Notion of exchange used to explain why some women stay in abusive relationships 
  • Rusbult and Martz (1995) argue that when investments are high and alternatives are low, this could still be considered a profit situation and a woman might choose to remain in such a relationship

Comparison level

  • Support can be found by looking at how people in relationship deal with potential alternatives
  • One way of dealing with suh potential threats is to reduce them as a means of protecting the relationship
  • Simpson et al (1990) asked participants to rate members of opposite sex in terms of attractiveness
  • those already involved in a relationship gave lower ratings
  • social exchange theory doesn't explain why some people leave relationshis despite having no alternative
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Maintenance of Romantic Relationships

Social Exchange Theory (Thibaut and Kelley, 1959)

Evaluation (continued)

Limitations:

  • SET criticised for focusing too much on individual's perspective and ignoring social aspects of a relationship such as how partners communicate and interpret shared events
  • main criticism focuses on selfish nature of the theory 
  • are people motivated to maintain relationships out of selfish concerns?
  • is it possible such principles only apply in individualist cultures?
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Maintenance of Romantic Relationships

Equity theory (Walster et al 1978)

Inequity and distress

  • SET tells us all social behaviour is a series of exchanges
  • individuals attempt to maximise their rewards and minimise their costs
  • equity theory is an extension of this belief
  • central assumption is that people strive to achieve fairness in their relationships and feel distressed if they perceive unfairness (Messick and Cook)
  • equity theory shows that any kind of inequity has the potential to distress
  • people who give a great deal in relationship and get little in return would perceive inequity 
  • therefore, they would be dissatisfied in the relationship
  • this is same for those who receive a great deal but give little in return
  • the greater the perceived inequity, the greater the dissatisfaction
  • the greater the dissatisfaction, the greater the distress
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Maintenance of Romantic Relationships

Equity theory (Walster et al 1978) Part 2

Equity and Satisfaction

  • Stafford and Canary (2006)
  • asked over 200 married couples to complete measures of equity and relationship satisfaction
  • findings revealed satisfaction was highest for spouses who perceived their relationships to be equitable
  • was followed by over-benefited partners and lowest for under-benefited partners
  • findings are consistent with predictions from equity theory
  • couples completed measures of 5 maintenance strategies
  • these were: positivity, openness, assurances, social networks and sharing tasks
  • under-benefited husbands reported significantly lower levels of 3 of these compared to equitable or over-benefited husbands
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Maintenance of Romantic Relationships

Equity theory (Walster et al 1978) Part 3

Ratio of inputs and outputs

  • equity does not necessarily mean equality
  • possible for each partner to contribute and receive very different amounts and for the relationship to still be equitable
  • what is considered 'fair' in a relationship in terms of input and output is largely a subjective opinion for each partner
  • therefore, although one partner perceives themselves as putting in less than the other, the relationship will still be judged fair if they get less out of the relationship (relative to the other person)
  • deciding if a relationship is equitable involves complicated mathematics
  • equitable relationshi should in theory be one where partner's benefits minus their costs equals their partner's benefits less their costs
  • if we perceive inequality in a relationship, we are motivated to restore it
  • can be achieved in several different ways
  • may change the amount we put into a relationship, the amount we demand from the relationship
  • may change perceptions of relative inputs and outputs
  • may compare relationship to comparison level for other relationships to see if its worth continuing to invest 
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Maintenance of Romantic Relationships

Equity theory (Walster et al 1978) 

Evaluation

Exchange and communal relationships

  • Clark and Mills (1979) - disagreed with the claim all relationships are based on economics
  • distinguished between exchange relationships (e.g between colleagues or business associates) and communal relationships (between friends or lovers)
  • exchange may involve keeping track of rewards and costs
  • communal are governed more by desire to respond to the needs of the partner
  • still concern with equity, but partners tend to believe things will balance out in the long run

Role of relationship equity in marital disruption

  • DeMaris (2007) invetigated whether marital inequity is associated with later marital disruption
  • 1500 couples were used
  • found only subjective index of inequity associated w/ disruption is women's sense of being under-benefited
  • greater under-benefit raised the risk of divorce
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Maintenance of Romantic Relationships

Equity theory (Walster et al 1978)

Evaluation

Insufficient theory

  • Ragsdale and Brandau-Brown (2007)
  • they reject the claim equity is a key determinant of relationship satisfaction
  • they argue that the theory is 'an incomplete rendering of the way in which married people behave with respect to each other'
  • claim equity theory is therefore insufficient to explain marital maintenance
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The Breakdown of Relationships

Reasons for relationship breakdown (Duck 1999) Part 1

Lack of skills

  • relationships are difficult for some people because they lack the interpersonal skills to make them mutually satisfying
  • individuals lacking social skills may be poor conversationalists, poor at indicating their interest in other people and are likely to be unrewarding in their interctions with their other people (Duck 1991)
  • lack of social skills means others perceive them as not being interested in relating, so relationship breaks down before it really gets going
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The Breakdown of Relationships

Reasons for relationship breakdown (Duck 1999) Part 2

Lack of stimulation

  • according to social learning theory, people look for rewards in relationships
  • one of these is stimulation
  • we would expect that a lack of stimulation would be a reason why relationships break down
  • there is evidence that lack of stimulation is often quoted when breaking off a relationship
  • people expect relationships to change and develop
  • when they do not, this is seen as sufficient justification to end the relationship or begin a new one
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The Breakdown of Relationships

Reasons for relationship breakdown (Duck 1999) Part 3

Maintenance difficulties

  • some circumstances where relationships become straind because partners cannot see eachother enough
  • going to university, for example, places great strain on existing relationships and is often responsible for their breakdown (Shaver et al 1985)
  • while enduring relationships cn be strong enough to survive the presures of decreased daily contact, evident that for many this isn't the case
  • in some cases, maintenance difficulties become overwhelming and the relationship breaks down
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The Breakdown of Relationships

Reasons for relationship breakdown (Duck 1999) Part 4

Evaluation

Extramarital affairs

  • a major reason why relationships break down is that one or both partners have an extramarital affair
  • Boekhout et al (1999) showed how affairs might be direct reaction to lack of skills and/or stimulation in the current relationship
  • asked undergrads to rate various sexual/emotional reasons for men + women to be unfaithful in a committed relationship
  • participants judged that sexual reasons for infidelity would be more likely to be used by men
  • emotional reasons for infidelity would be more likely to be used by women
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The Breakdown of Relationships

Reasons for relationship breakdown (Duck 1999)

Evaluation

Maintenance difficulties

  • Long distance romantic relationships (LDRR) and long distance friendships (LDF) are more common than we think
  • one study found 70% of students sampled had at least one LDRR and 90% one LDF (Rohlfing 1995)
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The Breakdown of Relationships

A model of breakdown (Rollie and Duck, 2006)

Summary of model

1) Breakdown: dissatisfaction with relationship
2) Intrapsychic processes: social withdrawal, brooding on partners faults and relational costs, re-evaluation of alternatives to relationship
3) Dyadic processes: Uncertainty, anxiety, hostility, complaints, discussion of discontents, re-assessment of goals, possibilities, commitments
4) Social processes: Going public, support seeking from third parties, alliance building, social commitment
5) Grave dressing processes: tidying up memories, making relational histories, saving face
6) Resurrection processes: Recreating sense of own social value, defining what to get out of future relationships, preparation for different sort of relational future 

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The Breakdown of Relationships

Model of breakdown (Rollie and Duck 2006)

Evaluation

Research support

  • supported by observations of real life break ups
  • Tashiro and Frazier (2003) surveyed undergrads who recently broke up with romantic partner
  • typically reported that they had not only experienced emotional distress but a personal growth
  • students reported breaking up with partner gave them new insights into themselves and a clearer idea about future partners
  • grave-dressing and resurrrection meant they were able to put original relationship to rest and get on with their lives 

Implications for intervention

  • model stresses importance of communication in relationship breakdown
  • if relationship was in intrapsychic stage for example, repair might involve re-establishing liking for their parner, perhaps by re-evaluating their behaviour in a more positive light
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Sexual Selection

Nature of sexual selection

Inter and intra-sexual selection

Intrasexual selection (mate competition):

  • members of one sex (usually males) compete with each other for access to members of the other sex
  • victors are able to mte and so pass on their genes, whereas the losers to not
  • whatever traits lead to success in these same-sex contests will be passed on to the next generation

Intersexual selection (mate choice)

  • form of selection involves preferences of one sex for members of the opposite sex who possess certain qualities
  • preferences of one sex determine the areas in which the other sex must compete
  • may be in ters of plumage (as seen in peacocks) or economic resources (in the case of humans)
  • indicators reveal traits that could be passed on to offspring 
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Sexual Selection

Short term mating preferences

  • Human possess menu of different mating strategies some of which evolved specifically for short term mating success
  • according to parental investment theory, men evolved greater desire for casual sex, would ideally seek sex earlier in relationship
  • female behaviour would not be subjefcted to same evolutionary pressures
  • in contrast to women, men appear to lower their standards in the context of short term mating opportunities
  • then show a marked decrease in attraction following sex
  • is an eolved adaptation to bring about a hasty departure which prevents them spending too long with one woman (Buss and Schmitt 1993)

Long term mating preferences

  • Both sexes typically invest heavily in any offspring
  • as a consequence, sexual selection should favour high levels of choosiness in both sexes
  • poor long term mate choice could be disastrous - both would have wasted vluable resources
  • women predicted to be very particular about their choice of mate
  • males would be most attracted to be most attracted to females who display signals of fertility
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Sexual Selection

Evaluation

Logic of sexual selection

  • Rationale behind sexual selection is that random mating is essentially stupid mating
  • Pays to be choosy
  • Genetic quality of mate will determine half the genetic quality of any offspring
  • low quality mates (unattractive/unhealthy) will be more likely to produce unhealthy, unattractive offspring
  • by joining forces with attractive, high quality mate, offspring are higher quality and individual's genes more likely to be passed on 

Male preferences for younger women

  • one of most striking conclusions of Buss's study of 37 cultures was that men have preference for younger women
  • finding was consistent with sexual selectionbecause the younger the woman, the greater the fertility 
  • Opposing research: Kenrick et al (1996)
  • Found teenage males most attracted to women 5 years older than them
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Parental Investment

Maternal investment

  • Investment made by human females considerably greater than that made by males
  • females produce far fewer gametes (eggs) over course of her life time than male produces sperm
  • greater investment made by females may also be explained in terms of parental certainty

Why do females invest more?

  • as brain size increased in response to adaptive pressures among distant anestors, resulted in more difficult childbirth
  • to compensate, childbirth in humans occurs earlier in development, meaning human infants are born relatively immature compared to other animals
  • human females breastfeed their young and so are burdened by extended period of childcare that results from prolonged immaturity
  • human mothers make the greater prenatal contribution of resources but also post-natal contribution
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Parental Investment

Paternal investment

  • minimum obligatory investment made by males is considerably less than that of females
  • several reasons for this
  • woman can produce only a limited number of offspring, man can potentially father an unlimited number
  • human male can simply walk away having achieved the task of fertilisation

Paternal investment and cuckoldry

  • When males to invest parentally, they are under pressure to protect themselves from possibility of cuckoldry (inesting in offpsring that are not their own)
  • human males make a considerabe investment in their children, have a greater concern than females about the fidelity of their mates (Miller 1998)
  • try to ensure care is not misdirected towards non-relatives

Sexual and emotional jealousy

  • possibility of sexual infidelity posed different adapative problems for males and females
  • man whose mate was unfaithful risked investing in offspring that were not his own
  • woman whose mates was unfaithful risked diversion of resources away from her and her family
  • sexual jealousy may have evolved as solution to these problems
  • Men = more jealous of sexual act
  • women = more jealous of the **** in emotional focus
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Parental Investment

Evaluation

Consequences of greater investment by females

Extra-marital affairs

  • expense of child-rearing means feales want to ensure good quality offspring so they don't waste their efforts
  • 1 way of doing this - marry a man with good resources + is caring but has good genes through extramarital affairs with 'studs'
  • these are attractive men advertising good genes but no resources

Benefits and risks of cuckoldry

  • some women may attempt to offset their greater parental investment by cuckolding their partners
  • benefits women could obtain by this behaviour include receiving additional social support from another male and perhaps higher quality genes for her children
  • risks: possibility of abandonment and use of mate-retention strategies by current partner


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Parental Investment

Commentary on paternal investment

Parental certainty is not always an issue for human males

  • parental investment theory would predict investment by fathers would always be greater if the know the child is biologically theirs
  • would not want to spend time and resources bringing up another man's child
  • some studies have contradicted this asumption
  • Anderson (1999) easured resources invested by fathers and stepfathers
  • men seemed not to discriminate between children born to current partner from a previous relationship and their own children from a previous relationship

Evidences for sex differences in jealousy

  • Buss et al (1992) found male US students indicated more concern about sexual infedelity whereas female students expressed more concern about emotional infidelity
  • supported by physiological responses when respondents were asked to imagine scenes of sexual or emotional infidelity
  • men showed much more distress for sexual than emotional infidelity
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Influence of childhood on adult relationships

Parent-child relationships

Attachments, caregiving and sexuality

  • Shaver et al (1988) - claiimed what we experience as romantic love in adulthood is integration of 3 behavioural systems acquired in infancy
  • these are attachment, caregiving and sexuality systems
  • first system - attachment - related to the concept of the internal working model
  • According to Bowlby (1969), later relationships likely to be continuation of early attachment styles (secure or insecure)
  • in some extreme cases, internal working model leads them to develop an attachment disorder
  • caregiving system is knowledge about how one cares for others, learned by modelling the behaviour of the primary attachment figure
  • sexuality system learned in relation to early attachment 
  • e.g individuals who suffered from avoidant attachment = more likely to hold the view that sex without love is pleasurable
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Influence of childhood on adult relationships

Effects of childhood abuse on later relationships

  • physical abuse in childhood has number of negative effects on adult psychological functioning
  • e.g individuals who have experienced physical abuse in childhood are more likely to report increased rates of depression, anger and anxiety than non-abused individuals (Springer et al 2007)
  • childhood sexual abuse has been associated with psychological impairment in adult life
  • research suggests many victims of sexual abuse experience difficulties forming healthy relationships in adulthood
  • individuals who have experienced both forms of abuse in childhood develop a damaged ability to trust people and sense of isolation from others (Alpert et al 1998)
  • distancing/self isolation can inhibit the development of romantic attachments in adulthood
  • van der Kolk and Fisler (1994) found individuals who suffered childhood abuse also had difficulty forming healthy attachments
  • formed disorganised attachments instead
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Influence of childhood on adult relationships

Evaluation of parent-child relationships

Parental relationships - research support

  • relationship between attachment style and later adult relationships has been demonstrated in a number of studies
  • Fraley (1998) - meta-analysis of studies found correlations from 0.10 to 0.50 between early attachment type and later relationships
  • Fraley suggested one reason for low correlations may be because insecure-anxious attachment is more unstable
  • individual's attachment type is determined by current relationship, which is why happily married indviduals are secure
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Influence of childhood on adult relationships

Evaluation

Research support for the influnce of childhood

  • Research by Berenson and Andersen (2006) provies support that abused children have difficult time developing adult relationships
  • found adult women who had been abused in childhood later displayed negative reactions toward another person, but only with people who reminded them of their abusive parent
  • concluded this process of transference could lead individuals abused in childhood to use inapprpriate behavioural patterns learned from their relationship with an abusive parent in subsequent interpersonal relationships
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Influence of childhood on adult relationships

Interaction with peers

Childhood friendships

  • Qualter and Munn (2005)
  • shown that children also learn from their experiences with other children
  • way child thinks about himself - determined in part by specific experiences which then become internalised
  • children may develop sense of their own value as result of interactions with others 
  • this in turn determines how they approach adult relationships
  • Nangle et al (2003) claim children's friendships are training grounds for important adult relationships
  • close friendships - characterised by affection, sense of alliance and intimacy
  • experience of having friend to confide in promotes feelinsg of trust, acceptance and sense of being understood
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Influence of childhood on adult relationships

Interaction with peers

Adolescent relationships

  • In later stages of childhood, attachment shifts from parents to peers
  • romantic relationships in adolescence serve a number of purposes
  • 1) help achieve goal of separation from parents
  • 2) allow adolescent to get emotional/physical intimacy that is different from that experienced with parents
  • Madsen (2001) tested effects of dating behaviour in adolescence (15-17 1/2) on quality of young adult romantic relationships (ages 20-21)
  • found moerate/low dating frequency predicted higher quality young adult relationships
  • heavy dating predicted poorer quality young adult relationships
  • suggests some dating in adolescences is advantageous for adult relationship quality
  • however, too much can be maladaptive
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Influence of childhood on adult relationships

Interaction with peers

Evaluation

Gender differences

  • gender differences in childhood relationships have been found in a number of studies
  • Richard and Shneider (2005) - found girls have more intimate friendships than boys
  • are more likely to report care and security in their relationships with other girls
  • Erwin (1993) found boys' relationships tend to be more competitive 
  • this is attributed to the greater emphasis on competitive activities
  • in contrat, girls more likely to engage in cooperative and sharing activities
  • Erwin claims sex differences in the experience of childhood relationships have been over emphasised
  • many similarities tend to be overlooked
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Influence of childhood on adult relationships

Interaction with peers

Evaluation

Negative effects

  • research suggests romantic relationships in adolescence can be healthy for adult relationships
  • however, has also shown potential for negative effects
  • Haynie (2003) found romantic involvement increased some forms of deviance in adolescents by as much as 35%
  • Neemann et al (1995) found romantic involvement in early - middle adolescence was associated with decreases in academic achievement and increases in conduct problems
  • Madsen's finding that heavy dating patterns are associated with poorer quality of adult relationships is challenged by research of Roisman et al (2004)
  • found no effect of romantic experiences at age 20 on romantic relationships at age 30
  • suggests there is no consistent that adolescent romantic relationships are the 'building blocks' of adult relationships
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Influence of culture on romantic relationships

Western and non-western relationships

Voluntary or non-voluntary relationships

  • Distinguising feature of many Western cultures is that we live in predominantly urban settings with easy geographical and social mobility
  • ensures that on a daily basis, we voluntarily interact with a large number of people, many of whom are first acquaintances
  • Western cultures appear to be characterised by a high degree of choice in romantic relationships and a greater 'pool' of potential relationships
  • Non-Western cultures have fewer large urban centres and less geographical and social mobility
  • people have less choice about who they interact with on a daily basis
  • interactions with strangers are rare, relationships are frequently tied to other factors such as family or economic resources
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Influence of culture on romantic relationships

Individual or group based relationships

  • Western cultures place great importance on the rights and freedom of the individual
  • individual happiness and pleasure are seen as fundamentally important
  • such cultures are described as individualist because of their focus on the individual rather than the group
  • Non-western cultures, the group tends to be the primary unit of concern
  • members of collectivist cultures are encouraged to be interdependent rather than independent
  • cultural  attitudes of individualist cultures, where individuals interests are more highly regarded than group goals and interests, are consistent with the formation of romantic relationships that are based on freedom of choice
  • collectivism leads to relationships that may have more to do with the concerns of family or group (Moghaddam et al 1993)
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Influence of culture on romantic relationships

Western and non-western Relationships

Importance of love in romantic relationships

  • Relationships in Western cultures are typically based on freedom of choice
  • Might expect to find differences between Western and non-Western cultures regarding importance of love in romantic relationships
  • Levine et al (1995) investigated love as a basis for marriage in 11 countries
  • Respondents were asked whether they'd be willing to marry someone who had all the qualities they desired in a marriage partner but who they did not love
  • US respondents expressed reluctance to marry in the absense of love (only 14% said they would marry they did not love)
  • figures from collectivist cultures e.g India (24%) and Thailand (34%) were higher
  • suggests higher proprotion of people in these cultures were prepared to marry in absense of love
  • suggests the extended family is of greater importance and romantic love is considered a comparative luxury
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Influence of culture on romantic relationships

Cultural differences in loneliness

  • cultures that promote a strong desire for romantic relationships can greatly influnce feeligns of romantic loneliness in young people not involved in a romantic relationship
  • Seepersad et al (2008) suggested young adults in Western cultures such as UK and US would experience greater degree of loneliness bedcause of high desire for romantic relationships
  • this is in comparison to young adults from non-Western cultures such as China and Korea
  • Seepersad et al's study revealed that in a sample of 227 US and Korean students, US reported significantly higher levels of romantic loneliness when they were not in a romantic relationship 
  • Strongly emphasises the importance of relationships in Western cultures which may unduly amplify individuals' feelings of loneliness
  • Study also showed Korean students relied more heavily on their families to fulfill their social network needs
  • American students relied more on friends and significant others
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Influence of culture on romantic relationships

Evaluation

Voluntary or non-voluntary relationships

  • In some societies, 'non voluntary' or arranged marriages make good sense and seem to work well
  • divorce rates are low and in about half of them spouses report they have fallen in love with each other (Epstein 2002)
  • Myers et al (2005) studied individuals in India living in arranged marriages
  • No differences in marital satisfaction were found when compared to individuals in non-arranged marriages in the US

Love and marital satisfaction

  • In some rapidly developing cultures, e.g China, has been noticeable increase in love matches, i.e a move away from traditional arranged marriages
  • China - parents dominate process of partner choice have declined from 70% prior to 1949 to less than 10% in 1990s
  • Study of women in Chengdu, China, found women who married for love felt better about their marriages than women who exprienced arranged marriages (Xiaohe and Whyte 1990)
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Influence of culture on romantic relationships

Evaluation

Individual or group based relationships

  • Although we might expect relationships based on love to produce more compatible partners, may not be the case
  • parents may be in a better position to judge compatibility in the long term whereas young people may be 'blinded by love' and overlook areas of personal incompatibility that will become apparent later
  • Xiaohe and Whyte's study, freedom of mate choice promoted marital stability rather than instability 

Consequences of increasing urbanisation

  • research suggests attitudes towards love and romantic relationships may be better explained by the greater urbanisation and mobility found in Western cultures rather than by Western/non-Western cultural differences
  • E.g there's been a sharp increase in divorce rates in India in recent years despite bing regarded as a traditional, collectivist culture
  • Most of those eing divorced are members of India's thriving urban middle class
  • suggests their aspirations and attitudes to relationships = different to those of their parents and grandparents
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Relationships IDAs

Formation of Romantic relationships

Cultural Bias

  • Reward/need satisfaction theory doesn't account for cultural/gender differences in the formation of relationships
  • Lott (1994) suggests that in many cultures women are more focused on the needs of others than receiving reinforcement
  • Suggests that this theory is not a universal explanation of relationship formation and therefore culturally biased

An evolutionary explanation

  • Aron et al (2005)  suggests the brain reward system associated with romantic love most probably evolved to drive our ancestors to focus their courtship energy on specific individuals
  • love at first sight is a basic mammalian response that our ancestors inherited to speed up the mating process 
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Relationships IDAs

Maintenance of romantic relationships

Cultural bias in equity and exchange

  • Moghaddam (1998)
  • Suggests that economic theories only apply to Western relationships and even then only to certain short-term relationships among individuals 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 romantic relationships
  • long term relationships within other less mobile population groups are more likely to value security than personal profit

Real world application - relationship therapy

  • individuals in unsuccessful marraiges reported a lack of positive behaviour exchanges with their partner and an excess of negative exchanges
  • Gottman and Levenson (1992) found that in successful marriages ratio of positive to negative exchanges was 5:1
  • in unsuccessful marriages, ratio was much lower at around 1:1 or less
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Relationships IDAs

Breakdown of relationships

Real world application

  • importance of social skills deficits in relationship breakdown has led to development of training programmes that try to enhance relationship skills in distressed couples
  • Couples Coping Enhancement Training (CCET) programme aims to sensitise couples to issues of equity and respect within their relationship and improve communication/problem solving skills

Ethical issues in breakdown research

  • carrying out research in this sensitive area raises issues of vulnerability, privacy and confidentiality
  • researcher faces a choie of pursuing valuable information or terminating their involvement with a participant to prevent any further harm befalling them
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Relationships IDAs

Gender bias in short term mating

  • Research consistently reports that men more than women have a desire for a variety of sexual partners and greater willingness for casual sex
  • men could never have evolved this desire in the absence of willing females
  • despite fact short term mating carries considerable potential cost to the woman, there must also be some benefits
  • Greiling and Buss (2000) suggest she could profit in a number of ways
  • includes using short term mating as a way of leaving a poor quality relationship or as a way of producing more genetically diverse offspring

Determinism in the development of adult relationships

  • research may indicate early experience have a fixed effect on later adult relationships
  • therefore, children who are insecurely attached at age 1 are doomed to experience emotionally unsatisfactory relationships as adults
  • fortunately not the case
  • researchers have found cases where participants were experiencing happy adult relationships despite not having been securely attached as infants 
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