psychology relationship overview

basically everything you need to know in smaller chunks. enjoy

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  • Created on: 27-04-10 19:36

Relationship Formation

Reward/Need Satisfaction Theory [Byrne and Clore 1970]

AO1 = We are attracted to anyone that rewards us or stimulates us, making us happy. We learn to avoid anyone with punishing stimuli, upsetting us. Rewards = Company, financial security, attractiveness etc.

According to operant conditioning, we repeat any behaviour that pleases us, therefore forming relationships with the people that produce positive feelings in us as their presence is directly associated with reinforcement. This makes them more attractive.

Attraction through association: we like people that are associated with positive events. We are inclined to like someone when we meet them in a good mood. When the event has passed, we still view them positively due to classical conditioning.

AO2 = Griffitt + Guay 1969: PPs rated researcher highly if they had graded them well. Aron et al 2005: early intense romantic love=activity of subcortical reward regions of brain Cate et al 1982: 337 PPs rate relationship in terms of reward levels. Reward level superior than other factors in determining satisfaction. Hays 1985: we like giving + receiving

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Relationship Formation

Similarity Theory [Byrne, Clore + Smeaton 1986]

AO1 = There are 2 distinct stages in formation. We sort potential partners through dissimilarity first avoiding those who are too different than us, then choose someone who is similar to us.

Personality: We are attracted to people with similar personality traits. Similarity is useful for long-term relationships. Caspi + Herbener 1990 found that married couples with similar personalities tend to be happier

Attitudes: "Attitude Alignment" occurs, partners modify their attitudes so they become similar. Successful relationships happen when partners can agree on things.

AO2 = Rosenbaum 1986: dissimilarity is more important in determining if a relationship will form. Dissimilar Repulsion Hypothesis has been tested by Singh + Tan & Drigotas concluding that we are attracted due to similarity then people that found more dissimilarities then got less attracted. Yoshida 1972: narrow view, many other factors involved in formation. Condon + Crano 1988: similarity reduces chance of rejection.

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Relationship Maintenance

Social Exchange Theory [Thibaut and Kelley 1959]

AO1 = Profit and Loss: Relationships are a series of exchanges. We maximise rewards and minimise costs. We hope to make a "profit". Rewards=sex, money, company. Costs=effort, time wasted. Mutual attraction occurs when each partners needs are met. Comparison Level: A standard against which our relationships are judged. If a new relationship exceeds this CL then we will stay in it. We also judge our current relationship against past and future possible alternatives and choose the one with highest profits.

AO2 = Rusbult + Martz 1995: this is why some women stay in abusive relationships, investments and profits are high and alternatives are low. e.g homeless with no money. Simpson et al 1990: PPs in relationships rate members of the opposite sex lower than others. Doesnt explain why people leave relationships despite having no alternative.

Social Exchange Theory has been criticised for focussing too much on the individuals perspective and ignoring social communication with the couple. Assumes people are selfish and only focus on their own needs. Mainly relevant to western countries.

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Relationship Maintenance

Equity Theory [Walster et al 1978]

AO1 = A version of social exchange theory which suggests that balance is achieved more through perceived fairness than exchange. If there is not fairness in a relationship, we feel distressed. People that put a lot into a relationship and get nothing out are distressed, the same as people that put nothing in and receive more out. The greater the perceived inequity, the greater the dissatisfaction and distress.

Equity does not mean equality. It is possible to contribute different amounts and receive different amounts and the relationship still have equity. If one person puts in less and receives less, this would be judged as fair. It is a ratio of inputs and outputs. When we perceive inequity, we are motivated to restore it.

AO2 = Clark + Mills 1979: all relationships are not based on economics. Romantic relationships are more governed by the desire to please each other rather than work for. DeMaris 2007: marital unequity with women leads to a greater risk of divorce.

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Relationship Breakdown

Reasons For Breakdown [Duck 1999]

AO1 = Lack of Skills: some people lack interpersonal skills to make them satisfying. Another person may percieve them to not be interested when infact they are just lack social skills. Lack of Stimulation: A reward from social exchange theory is stimulation, if people lack this, it is a reason for breakdown as the relationship is not developing. Maintenance difficulties: If couples are not able to see eachother enough due to other commitments such as work, it places strain on the relationship. However enduring romantic relationships can sometimes be strong enough to survive pressure of no contact.

AO2 = Boekhout 1999: extramarital affairs may be a direct reaction to a lack of skills and cause breakdown. Students were asked to rate various reasons to be unfaithful in a relationship. PPs judged that sexual reasons are be top for men and emotional for women Rohlfing 1995: 70% of students had experienced a long distance relationship and 90% had experienced a long distance friendship. Holt and Stone 1988: Long distance can work as long as couples can reunite regularly.

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Relationship Breakdown

A Model of Breakdown [Rollie and Duck 2006]

AO1 = Breakdown -> Intrapsychic Processes -> Dyadic Processes -> Social Processes -> Grave-Dressing Processes -> Resurrection Processes. At the dyadic phase of uncertainty, the relationship can still be saved as the breakdown is still personal, however after this at the social process, the breakdown is public and others get involved so you have less of a say in the breakdown.

AO2 = Supported by real life breakups. [Ethical issues, emotional harm + confidentiality]. Tashiro + Frazier 2003: students that had just broken up from a relationship felt emotional distress but also personal growth and a clearer view about future partners.

This model stresses the importance of communication especially past the social phase. Repair options for each stage are also presented with this model. For example, in the intra psychic process, a repair method would involve re-evaluating their behaviour in a more positive light and attempting to re-establish a liking for their partner. However Duck only focusses on what happens after Breakdown and less on earlier events leading to it.

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Sexual Selection

Inter- and Intra-sexual Selection [Darwin 1874]

AO1 = Intrasexual selection [mate competition]: Members of one sex compete against each other for access to members of the opposite sex. Winners mate and pass on their genes. Traits are lead to success will be passed on to the next generation. Intersexual selection [mate choice]: One sex has preferences for traits in the opposite sex, the preferable traits are then passed on "good genes" and the losing traits die out. The prefences in one sex determine in which area the opposite sex must compete. Often preferable are traits that indicate you can bring up offspring "good parents".

AO2 = Being choosy in preference costs time and effort however it pays to be choosy as genetic quality of your mate determines the genetic quality of your offspring. Penton-Voak et al 1999: female mate choice varies across the menstrual cycle. Females choose more feminine men [kind and caring] as attractive for a long-term relationship but masculinised men [good hormones good immune system] for short-term sexual relationships. Miller: dancers on highest fertility point earned more tips than dancers that were not.

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Sexual Selection

The Nature Of Sexual Selection [Darwin 1874]

AO1 = Short term mating preferences: Parental investment theory, men evolved a greater desire for casual sex and seek sex earlier in the relationship. Females are not the same. It is easier for men to produce more children than women in a certain time, this means that men can lower their standards in context of short term opportunities then have decrease in attraction after sex which prevents them from spending too much time with one woman. In long term mating, both sexes invest heavily in any offspring, poor long term mate choice is bad because it is a waste of valueable resources. Females need to be attracted to males that can invest in offspring, can be a good parent and dont cost her. [Buss 2003]

AO2 = Buss: 37 culture study. Men like younger women. Younger women=greater fertility Some critics say younger women are easier to control and better for social power. Kenrick et al 1996: Rejected this and found that teen males are attracted to women 5 years older than them despite being harder to control. Gender Bias: studies talk about men having a lot of sex but every time a man as sex with a woman, a woman is still having sex with a new man too.

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Parental Investment

Sex Differences In Parental Investment [Daly and Wilson 1978]

AO1 = Humans evolved to have larger brains, this means they need to be born earlier, for the woman to give birth, so at birth, infants are basically useless and require much care. Maternal investments are high, 9 months of pregnancy followed by years of feeding and carrying however paternal investment only takes a few minutes [Symons 1979]. Males usually tend to invest parentally under fear of protecting themselves from cuckoldry. Therefore men have a greater concern about the fidelity of their mates [Miller 1998]. Men get more jealous of the sexual act whereas women are jealous of emotional focus [Buss].

AO2 = 2 consequences of high maternal cost: infant dependency means females need male providers + expense of child caring means females ensure high quality men. The attractive men have good genes but often low resources. Baker + Bellis: 2700 women, 14% were products of extramarital matings. Dunbar 1995: Joint parental care is desirable due to high costs, if males can increase success of childrearing it pays them to do so. In humans, males restrict reproductive opportunities and invest more in individual offspring.

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Parental Investment

Parent-Offspring Conflict [Trivers 1974]

AO1 = Parents and children conflict about when child should be weaned, with the child generally wanting to prolong it for as long as possible. Parents also encourage children to value siblings more than they are naturally inclined to. Conflict before birth: Haig: pre-eclampsia, foetus raises mothers blood pressure to get more nutrients at the expense of the mother. Conflict after birth: parents want to invest in youngest children more, older attempt to prolong resources and want to be primary focus. Sibling Rivalry: Offspring want more than their fair share and compete for attention and resources of parents.

AO2 = Haig 1993 + Xiong 2000: mothers with high blood pressure deliver healthier larger babies and less abortions. Salmon + Daly 1998: Younger children don't bother to compete and opt out of attention, developing traits such as co-operativeness and form alliances with non-relatives. Shaffer 1993: Younger children learn negotiation skills through coping with older siblings. Laumiere 1996: suggested parental strategy to cope with sibling rivalry is to steer children on different routes so they don't need the same resources e.g Art + ICT. Andrews 2006: middle born children commit suicide more due to lack of attention.

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Influence of Childhood on Adult Relationships

Childhood Experiences [Shaver 1988 + Qualter & Munn 2005]

AO1 = romantic adult relationships are determined by 3 behavioural systems in infancy: attachment, care giving and sexuality. Attachment is to do with the internal working model by Bowlby, [secure/insecure]. The care giving system is knowledge about how to care for others modelled from primary attachment figure. Sexuality system suggests that insecure avoidant people find sex without love is pleasurable etc. Interaction with peers is also important. Children develop own values in response to their interaction with others. Nangle: friendships are training grounds for adult relationships, close friendships practice affection.

AO2 = Fraley: Meta-analysis found correlations of +.10-+.50 between early and later attachment type. Kirkpatrick + Hazan: relationship breakups are associated with a shift from secure to insecurely attached. Gender differences, Richard + Schneider: girls have more intimate relationships than boys. Erwin: boys relationships are more competitive whereas girls are more cooperative. Samples are restricted and cant all be generalised to all cultures. Simpson: longitudinal study over 25 years found strong links between child + adult relationships but it doesn't indicate the the past determines the future.

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Influence of Childhood on Adult Relationships

Adolescent Experiences [Carver et al 2003]

AO1 = Parent-Child Relationships: Attachment processes also shape adolescent relationships. Allen + Land suggest that adolescent relationships are a product of parent-child relationships as well as experiences from current relationships. "Formal Operational Thinking" lets adolscents see relationships objectively and compare to their parents hypothetical ideals. Romantic relationships help the shift from parents to peers and gain a form of intimacy different from experience with parents. Madsen found that a low level of teenage dating correlates with high success dates in adult dating.

AO2 = Coleman + Henry: breaking free from parental control is important but only if a close relationship is maintained with them "Connectedness". Larson: amount of time spent with family decreases in early teens but stays consistent with each individual parent. Adolescent relationships do not replace child parent relations. Haynie: romantic involvement increases some form of deviance by 35%. Neemann: romantic involvement in early teens is associated with decreases in academic achievement. Roisman: no link between relationships age 20 + age 30.

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Relationships in Different Cultures

Western and Non-Western Relationships

AO1 = Western relationships more voluntary, non-western more forced. Moghaddam suggests that Western relationships emphasise individual rights and freedom as we are more individualist, non-western relationships place importance of family or group decisions as they live in more collectivist cultures. Western cultures emphasize change and the relationships are seen as temporary whereas non-western are more long-term. Relationships are characterised by cultural differences in norms and rules concerning intimacy for example.

AO2 = Xiahoe + Whyte; increase in voluntary relationships linked with satisfaction. Divorce rates in britain rose from 2/1000 in 1960 to 12/1000 in 2007, this may be linked to greater urbanisation and mobility in western cultures. Fischer: romantic love is not exclusive to western cultures, evidence of 90% romantic love was found in 166 tribal cultures. Ho: expressions of love and sex outside marriage is not considered appropriate in the Chinese community.

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attempt to learn this a few weeks before the exam and you should be good..well relationships wise. good luck kids [:

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robyn smith


this was amazingly helpful, thank you :)



Amazingly summarised Thanks :)

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