Psychology A2 - Relationships

Revision cards for A2 psychology relationships.

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  • Created by: Jo
  • Created on: 30-03-11 16:20

The Formation of Romantic Relationships

There are many theories about how relationships are formes. These notes will consider two: The reward/need satisfaction model and the matching hypothesis.

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The Formation of Romantic Relationships

The reward satisfaction model

This is based on the process of classical and operant conditioning, suggesting we stay in relationships because they are rewarding in some way, or that life alone is unrewarding. This is through direct reinforcement and or Liking through association.

Direct reinforcement

  • An individual is rewarding when they are positive (e.g. smiling, helpful etc)
  • Smiling and positive non-verbal signals are positive reinforcement and is a reward.
  • meeting somone when we are in a negative state may lead to a relationship if the help us to escape that state.
  • Byrne and Clore therefore suggest that we enter relationships because the presense of some individuals is directly associated with pleasant feelings (positive reinforcement).

Liking through association

  • We like people who are associated with pleasant events.
  • If we meet someone when we are in a good mood we are more likely going to find them attractive.
  • Research by May and Hamilton - Female participants were asked how much they liked the look of male strangers. A control group had no music playing and the second group had pleasant music playing. The positive effect of music led to attraction.
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The Formation of Romantic Relationships

Evaluation of Byrne and Clore's reward satisfaction model

  • Research support - Griffit and Guay found that participants rated an experiamenter higher when they had been given positively evaluation on an earlier creative task.
  • Giving and Recieving award - Hays found that in student freindships as much value was given to rewarding as being rewarded. Participants in relationships value equity and fairness more that maximising personal benifits.
  • Limitations - many social relationships in non-western collectivist cultures show little concern for the reciept of reinforcements.
  • Gender differences - In many cultures women are socialized into being more attentive to others needs (e.g. husband and children) that being orientated to gratification of personal needs.
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The Formation of Romantic Relationships

The matching hypothesis

  • People who are similar in many ways are more likely going to end up in a relationship.
  • the more socially desirable a person is, the more socially desirable they expect their partner to be.
  • Couples who are matched are more likely to have a happy and enduring relationship that people who are mismatched.

Research by Walster et al

  • 752 students were invited to a dance where they were randomly allocation a partner. The students thought they had been matched to a partner.
  • A questionairre was given out during the dance.
  • A six month follow up found that before the dance, the more attractive a person was, the more attractive they thought their partner would be. Participants reacted more positively to attractive dates. Intelligence and personality didnt affect how much they liked their partner or if they attempted to go on follow up dates.
  • Overall physical attractiveness effect predominated over matching. However data from the real word supports the matching hypothesis.
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The Formation of Romantic Relationships

Evaluation of the Matching Hypothesis

  • Complex matching - lack of physical attractiveness can be made up for by other desirable traits.
  • Gender differences - physical attractiveness of women is rated more highly by men. Men can make up for attractiveness with social status or personality.
  • Role of a third party - Some matches are put together by friends, family or dating websites. For example, arranged marriages.
  • Cultural differences
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