Psychology: Relationships

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  • Created on: 08-02-14 09:01

Formation of Relationships:

  • The reward/need satisfaction theory by Byrne and Clore suggests that we are attreacted to people who we find satisfying or gratifying to be with. Mutual attraction occur when each partner meets the other partner's needs. 
  • Rewarding stimuli produces positive feelings in us and punishing stimuli produces negative feelings. According to the principles of operant conditioning, we are likely to repeat any behaviour that leads to a desirable outcome and avoid behaviours that lead to an undesirable outcome. The theory suggests therefore that we enter into relationships because the presence of some individuals is directly associated with reinforcement, which makes them more attractive to us.
  • We also like people who are assocated with pleasant events, therefore, we are more inclined to like someone if we meet them when we are feeling happy. In this way, a neutral stimulus (someone not previously met) can become positively valued because of there association with pleasant events throught the process of classical conditioning. Relationships where the positive feelings outweigh the negative feelings are more likely to develop and succeed, whereas relationships where the negatives outweigh the positives are likely to fail.
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Formation of Relationships: Reward/Need Evaluation

  • Support for the claim that we like some individuals because they provide direct reinforcement comes from Griffitt and Guay. Participants were evaluated on a creative task by an experimenter and then asked to rate how much they liked the experimenter. The rating was highest when the experimenter had positively evaluated the participant's performance on the task. This study also supports the claim that we like people who are associated with pleasant events. Participants were also asked to say how much they liked an onlooker. The onlooker was rated more highly when the participant's performance had been positively evaluated by the experimenter.
  • Research by Aron found that participants who measured very high on a self-report questionnaire of romantic love also showed strong activity in particular areas of the brain. Early stage, intense romantic love was associated with elevated levels of activity in subcortical reward regions of the brain, rich in dopamine.
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Formation of Relationships: Reward/Need Evaluation

  • Most of the studies carried out in this are are lab studies and therefore do not necessarily show that the principles of need satisfaction and silimarity apply to real life - lacks mundane realism. However, some studies, for example that of Cate have been conducted on real-life couples, and have tended to support these claims.
  • The reward/need satisfaction theory does not account for cultural and gender differences in the formation of relationships. For example, Lott suggests that in many cultures women are more focused on the needs of others rather than receiving reinforcement. This suggests that this theory is not a universal explanation of relationship formation and therefore culturally biased.
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Formation of Relationships: Reward/Need Evaluation

  • Cate asked 340 individuals to assess their current relationships in terms of reward level and satisfaction. Results showed that reward level was superior to all other factors in determining relationship satisfaction. However, a basic problem with this theory is that it only explores the receiving of rewards, whereas Hays found that we gain satisfaction from giving as well as receiving.
  • In a laboratory experiment, Lehr and Geher studied participants of both sexes to test the importance of reciprocal liking. Knowing that someone likes you is particularly rewarding and so is more likely to result in mutual liking. Participants were given a description of a stranger, with varying degrees of similarity of the strangers attitudes to the participant's. In each description was a statement that the stranger either liked or did not like the participant. The dependent variables included measure of liking for the stranger. Researchers found significant effects for attitude similarity (similar people were liked more) and liking (which was more likely to be reciprocated).
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Formation of Relationships:

  • Another theory is the The matching hypothesis by Byrne, Clore and Smeaton which suggests that similarity promotes liking.
  • According to the theory, people first sort potential partners for dissimilarity, avoiding those whose personality or attitudes appear too different from their ownThen, from those remaining, they are most likely to choose somebody who is similar to themselves.
  • This is not always the case, but similarity is more often the rule in long term relationships. Caspi and Herbener found that married couples with similar personalities tend to be happier than couples with less similar personalities.
  • Research suggests that a process of 'attitude alignment' often occurs, with partners modifying their attitudes so they become more similar. In order for the relationship to develop, one or more partners must modify their attitudes.
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Formation of Relationships: matching Evaluation

  • Rosenbaum suggested that dissimilarity rather than similarity was the more important factor in determining whether a relationship will form. This dissimilarity-repulsion hypothesis has been tested in a number of different cultures, and 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 became less attracted to each other.
  • However, research on similarity has only dealt with attitude and personality similarities. Yoshida pointed out that this represents only a very narrow view of factors important in relationship formation, and ignores other important factors such as similarity of self-concept, economic level and physical condition. For example, Speakman found that people often choose partners with similar levels of body fat.
  • Similarity is important for two main reasons. Firstly, we assume that people similar to us will be more likely to like us. By ruling out dissimilar people, we lessen the chance of being rejected as a partner. Secondly, when other people share our attitudes and beliefs, it tends to validate them, which is rewarding.
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Maintenance of Relationships:

  • The social exchange theory by Thibaut and Kelley assumes that all social behaviour is a series of exchanges; individuals attempt to maximise their rewards and minimise their costs.
  • Rewards that we may receive from a relationship include being cared for or companionship. Costs may include effort, financial investment and time spent. Rewards minus costs equal the outcome. Social exchange stresses that commitment to a relationship is dependent on the profitability of the outcome.
  • Thibaut and Kelley proposed that we develop a comparison level - a standard against which all our relationships are judged. If we judge that the potential profit in a new relationship exceeds our CL, the relationship will be judged as worthwhile.
  • A related concept is the comparison level for alternatives, where the person weighs up a potential increase in rewards from a different partner, and a new relationship can take the place of the current one if the profit level is significantly higher.
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Maintenance of Relationships: exchange Evaluation

  • Support can be found by looking at how people in a relationship deal with potential alternatives; one way of dealing with such potential threats is to reduce them as a means of protecting the relationship. Simpson asked participants to rate members of the opposite sex in terms of attractiveness; those participant who were already involved in a relationship gave lower ratings. However, social exchange theory does not explain why some people leave relationships, despite having no alternative, nor does it suggest how great the disparity in CL has to be to become unsatisfactory.
  • Social exchange theory has been criticised for focusing too much on the individual's perspective and ignoring the social aspects of a relationship, such as how partners communicate and interpret shared events. The main criticism focuses on the selfish nature of the theory - that people are only motivated to maintain relationships out of hedonistic concerns. It is possible that such principles only apply in individualist cultures.
  • Indeed. Moghaddam suggests that such 'economic' theories only apply to Western relationships, and even then only to certain short-term relationships. For example, Western students who are typically very mobile and experience many short-term romantic relationships. When there is little time to develop long-term commitment, it makes sense to be more concerned with give and take. Long-term relationships within other population groups are more likely to value security than personal profit.
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Maintenance of Relationships: exchange Evaluation

  • The notion of exchange has been used to explain why some women stay in abusive relationships. Rusbult and Martz 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.
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Maintenance of Relationships:

  • The equity theory by Walster assumes that people strive to achieve fairness in their relationships and feel distressed if they perceive unfairness. People who give a great deal in a relationship and get little in return would perceive inequity, but the same is true of those who receive a great deal and give little in return. The greater the perceived inequity, the greater the dissatisfaction and the greater the distress. However, It is possible for each partner to contribute different amounts and for the relationship still to be equitable. What is 'fair' is a subjective opinion for each partner.
  • This is explained in a person's perceived ratio of inputs and outputs, a subjective assessment of the relative inputs and outputs of each partner. An equitable relationship should be one where one partner's benefits minus their costs equals their partner's benefits minus their costs. If we perceive inequality in our relationship, we are motivated to restore it.
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Maintenance of Relationships: equity Evaluation

  • Clark and Mills 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 respond to the needs of the partner.
  • DeMarris investigated the role of relationship inequality in marital disruption. Using 1500 couples as part of the US National Survey, he found that the only subjective index of inequality associated with disruption is woman's sense of being under-benefited, with greater under-benefit raising the risk of divorce.
  • Ragsdale and Brandau-Brown reject the claim that equity is a key determinant of relationship satisfaction, and argue that it is '...an incomplete rendering of the way in which married people behave with respect to each other' and is therefore, an insufficient theory to explain marital maintenance.
  • Men and women might judge the equity of a relationship differently. Steil and Weltman found that among married working couples, husbands who earned more than their wives rated their own careers as the most important, and their wives tended to agree. In couples where the woman's income exceeded the man's, neither partner rated their career as more important. Research concluded that the wives tendency to seek less for themselves than comparable men impeded the achievement of equality.
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Breakdown of Relationships:

  • Duck proposed reasons for relationship breakdown.
  • He proposed that for some people, relationships are difficult 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 are are likely to be generally unrewarding in their interactions with other people. The lack of social skills therefore, means that others perceive them as not being interested in relating, so a relationship tends to break down before it gets going.
  • According to social exchange theory, people look for rewards in their relationships, one of which is stimulation. We would expect, therefore, that lack of stimulation would be a reason why relationships break down. People expect relationships to change and develop, and when they do not, this is seen as justification to end the relationship and begin a new one.
  • Relationships become strained simply because partners cannot see each other enough. Going away to university, for example, places a great strain on existing relationships and is often responsible for their breakdown.
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Breakdown of Relationships: Duck's reasons Evaluat

  • A major reason why relationships break down is that one or both partners have extramarital affairs. Boekhout showed how such affairs might be a direct reaction to perceived lack of skills and/or stimulation in the current relationship. They asked undergraduates to rate various sexual and emotional reasons for men and women to be unfaithful in a committed relationship. Participants judged that sexual reasons for infidelity would be more likely used by men, whereas emotional reasons for infidelity would be more likely to be used by women.
  • Long-distance romantic relationships (LDRR) are quite common. One study found that 70% of students sampled had experienced at least one LDRR and that 90% had experienced a LDF. In our mobile society, people have to move, and do become separated from family/friends/partners, so it is useful to understand the management strategies people use. Holt and Stone found that there was little decrease in relationship satisfaction, as long as lovers are able to reunite regularly.
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Breakdown of Relationships: Duck's reasons Evaluat

  • The importance of social skills deficits in relationship breakdown has been demonstrated in studies that have attempted to enhance relationship skills in distressed couples. The Couples Coping Enhancement Training (CCET) programme aims to sensitise couples to to issues such as equity and respect within their relationship and to improve communication and problem-solving skills. Cina compared 50 couples who received CCET training with a control group who did not. Results showed that the CCET group reported much higher marital quality after training compared to the control group.
  • Brehm found that women are more likely to stress unhappiness and incompatibility as reasons for dissolution, whereas men are particularly upset by 'sexual witholding'. Women have more desire to stay friends after a relationship, whereas men want to 'cut their losses' and move on.
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Breakdown of Relationships:

  • Rollie and Duck proposed a model of breakdown with the first phase of this model being when one of the partners becomes distressed with the relationship. This leads to an intrapsychic process characterised by a brooding focus on the relationship. During this process, nothing is said to the partner, although the dissatisfied partner may express their dissatisfaction in other ways, like a personal diary entry. Some people will end relationships without ever discussing the dissatisfaction with their partner. In the dyadic process, however, people confront their partners and begin to discuss their feelings and the future. At this stage, the relationship might be saved, or partners begin to involve others in their dissatisfaction with the relationship.
  • Having just left a relationship, partners attempt to justify their actions. This process is important, as each partner must present themselves to others as being trustworthy and loyal, key attributes for future relationships. Partners strive to construct a representation of the failed relationship that does not paint their contribution in unfavourable terms. In this grave-dressing process, people may strategically reinterpret their view of the partner. In the final resurrection process, each partner prepares themselves for new relationships by redefining themselves and building on past mistakes and experiences.
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Breakdown of Relationships: the model Evaluation

  • Rollie and Duck's model is supported by observations of real-life break-ups. Tashiro and Frazier surveyed undergraduates who had recently broken up with a romantic partner. They typically reported that they had not only experienced personal distress, but emotional growth. These students reported that breaking up with their partner had given them new insights into themselves and a clearer idea about future partners. Through grave-dressing and resurrection processes, they were able to put the original relationship to rest and get on with their lives.
  • Rollie and Duck's model stresses the importance of communication in relationship breakdown. Paying attention to the things that people say, the topics that they discuss and the ways in which they talk about their relationship offers both an insight into their stage and also suggests appropriate interventions for that stage.
  • Carrying out research in this sensitive area raises many particular issues of vulnerability, privacy and confidentiality. Ultimately, the researcher faces the choice of pursuing valuable information or terminating their involvement with a participant to prevent any further harm befalling them.
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Sexual Selection:

  • An important feature of most sexually reproducing species is that males are more brightly coloured than their female counterparts. One would expect such disadvantageous traits not to be naturally selected - unless they enhance reproductive success in some way. To explain this, Darwin came up with his theory of sexual selection, describing two processes through which it took place:
  • Intrasexual selection - members of one sex compete with each other for members of the opposite sex. The victors are able to mate and so pass on their genes, whereas the losers do not. Whatever traits lead to success in these same-sex contests will be passed on to the next generation.
  • Intersexual selection - Involves the preferences of one sex for members of the opposite sex who possess certain qualities. These indicators reveal traits that could be passed on to offspring, as well as information about the chances of being able to give good protection and support to offspring.
  • In long-term mating, both sexes typically invest heavily in any offspring. As a consequence of this, sexual selection should favour high levels of choosiness in both sexes. Poor long-term mate choice could be disastrous, because they would have wasted valuable resources. As women have an obligatory biological investment in their children, they are predicted to be very particular about their choice of mate.
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Sexual Selection: Evaluation

  • It pays to be choosy, as the genetic quality of a mate will determine half the genetic quality of any offspring. Low-quality mates will be more likely to produce unattractive, unhealthy children. By joining forces with an attractive, high-quality mate, offspring are of a higher quality and an individual's genes are more likely to be passed on. This therefore shows the logic of sexual selection.
  • Research by Penton-Voak suggests that far from being constant, female mate choice varies across the menstrual cycle. They found that women chose a slightly feminised version of a male face as 'most attractive' for a long-term relationship. However, for a short-term, sexual relationship, the preferred face shape was more masculinised. Sexual selection may well have favoured females who pursue a mixed mating strategy under certain conditions. A female might choose a main partner whose feminised appearance suggests kindness and cooperation in parental care, but might also copulate with a male with a more masculine appearance when conception is most likely. Such males are more likely to have higher levels of testosterone, which suppresses the immune system. Therefore, a male who is healthy must have a highly efficient immune system - a very valuable characteristic to pass to offspring
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Sexual Selection: Evaluation

  • Buss' study showed that men have a distinct preference for younger women, a finding consistent with the theory of sexual selection, because the younger the woman, the greater the fertility. However, some critics have tried to explain this in terms of social power - younger women are easier to control, and so preferred as mates. Kenrick rejected this hypothesis, finding that teenage males are most attracted to women who are five years older than them, despite the fact that such women usually show no interest in them, and are certainly not more easily controlled by them.
  • Studies such as Buss' survey of mate choice might suffer from a serious problem of validity - they give us an indication of expressed preferences rather than being a reflection of what actually happens in real life. However, many real life studies support these mate choice hypotheses. A study of actual marriages in 29 cultures (Buss) confirmed that men do choose younger women.
  • Men and women experimenters approached total strangers on a college campus and asked one of three questions and found that of the females approached, 0% agreed to have sex, but of the males approached, 75% agreedto have sex. This provide compelling evidence that men have evolved psychological mechanisms to ensure success in short-term mating. These include a desire for sexual variety, the tendency to let little time elapse before seeking sexual intercourse and a willingness to consent to sex with strangers.
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Sexual Selection: Evaluation

  • Although research consistently reports that men more than women have a desire for a variety of sexual partners and a greater willingness for casual sex, men could never have evolved this desire in the absence of willing females. Every time a man has sex with a willing new partner, the woman is also having sex with a new partner. Despite the fact that short-term mating carries a considerable potential cost to the woman, there must also be some benefits. As a result, explanations that emphasise the advantage of short-term mating only to males, offer a gender biased view of mating behaviour.
  • Sex differences in reproductive behavior could also be explained by an alternative perspective. It could be argued using the social approach that the idea that men are motivated to sleep around is something that is created and reinforced by society and socialization. Behavioural approaches would also explain this via the role of the media. The media could have a role via social learning theory as there are many social models in the media where males are exposed to this behaviour. Sexually promiscuous behavior is also celebrated by the male peer group and this could be an alternative reason for this sex difference. 
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Parental Investment:

  • As brain size increased in response to adaptive pressures in our ancestors, this resulted in a more difficult childbirth because of the enlargement of the skull. To compensate for this, childbirth in humans occurs earlier in development, meaning that human infants are born relatively immature compared to other animals. In common with other mammals, human females breast-feed their young, and so are more burdened by the extended period of childcare that results from this prolonged immaturity. Human mothers therefore not only make the greater prenatal contribution of resources (through pregnancy), but also make the larger postnatal contribution as well.
  • The greater investment made by females may also be explained in terms of perental certainty. Due to human reproduction being characterised by internal fertilisation, unlike males, who cannot be certain that they are the father, females can be certain that they are the true parent of their child.
  • The possibility of sexual infidelity posed different adaptive problems to males and females. A man whose mate was unfaithful risked investing in offspring that were not his own, whereas a woman whose mate was unfaithful risked the diversion of resources away from her and the family. Sexual jealousy, therefore, may have evolved as a solution to these problems (Buss). Men are more jealous of the sexual act (to avoid cuckoldry) while women are more jealous of the shift in emotional focus (and consequent loss of resources).
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Parental Investment: Evaluation

  • The expense of child-rearing means that females want to ensure good quality offspring so they don't waste their efforts. One way to achieve this is to marry a man who has good resources and is caring, but shop around for good genes through extramarital affairs with 'studs' - attractive men advertising good genes but resources. Although accurate data for mistaken paternity are notoriously elusive, there is some evidence from a magazine survey of over 2700 UK women. From the results of this survey Stack estimated that as many as 14% of the population were products of extramarital matings.
  • MP Michael Gove claimed that 'lads mags' reinforced a 'shallow approach to women', and linked them to a rise in feckless fatherhood and family breakdown. However, could be more shaped by biological forces. Geher studied 91 non-parent heterosexual undergraduates. Each completed a parental investment perception scale and were additionally exposed to various parental related scenarios. Although there were no sex differences in self-report responses to parenting on the parental investment perception scale, there were clear differences in ANS arousal to the different parenting scenarios. Males showed significantly increased heart-rate when presented with scenarios that emphasised the costs of parenting. Researchers concluded that, consistent with PI theory, males are biologically less prepared than females to confront issues associated with parenting.
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Parental Investment: Evaluation

  • In line with theories about sex differences in type of jealousy, Buss found that male US students indicated more concern about sexual infidelity, whereas female students expressed more concern about emotional infidelity. This was supported by physiological responses when respondents were asked to imagine scenes of sexual or emotional infidelity - then men showed much more distress for sexual than emotional infidelity.
  • In humans, joint parental care is desirable because of the high costs of successful reproduction. In any situation where males can increase the success of child-rearing, it will pay them to do so (Dunbar). This means that in humans, males do restrict their reproductive opportunities and invest more in each individual offspring.
  • We can better understand the origins of patterns of human parental behaviour by making a comparative analysis of parental investment to closely related species, for example to chimpanzees. In both species, males show little or no parental investment. This shows that the emergence of male parenting in humans represents either a dramatic evolutionary changeover our primate ancestors or the contribution of cultural learning.
  • However, Rowe suggests that an explanation of paternal investment based on evolutionary factors alone is limited. Men's parental behaviour depends on many personal and socila factors such as the quality of the relationship with the mother. Belsky also claimed that childhood experiences such as divorce tend to correlate with the degree to which men invest in the upbringing of their child.
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Childhood on relationships:

  • According to Bowlby, later relationships are likely to be a continuation of early attachment styles (secure or insecure) because the behaviour of the infants' primary attachment figure promotes an internal working model of relationships which leads the infant to expect the same in later relationships.
  • In the later stages of childhood, attachment usually shifts from parents to peers. The romantic relationships in adolescence serve a number of purposes; they help to achieve the goal of separation from parents and therefore are able to redirect intense interpersonal energy towards their partner, also, they allow the adolescent to gain a type of emotional and physical intimacy that is quite different to that experienced with parents.
  • Physical abuse in childhood has a number of negative effects on adult psychological functioning. For example, Springer found that individuals who have experienced abuse in childhood are subsequently more likely to report increased rates of depression, anger and anxiety which can lead to difficulties in forming healthy relationships later on in life.
  • Munn has shown that children also learn from their experiences with other children. The way that a child thinks about himself and others is determined at least in part by specific experiences, which then become internalised. As a result, children may develop a sense of their own value from interactions with others, which in turn determines how they approach adult relationships. Nangle claimed that children's friendships are training grounds for important adult relationships.
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Childhood on relationships: Evaluation

  • The relationship between attachment style and later relationships has been demonstrated in a number of studies such as that of Fraley who conducted a meta-analysis and found a correlation of about 0.1 between early attachment types and later relationships. Fraley suggested that a reason for a low correlation was because insecure attachment is more unstable.
  • However, it could be suggested that the individual's attachment type is determined by the current relationship - and not the other way round, explaining why happily married individuals are secure.
  • Attachment theory does suggest that significant relationship experiences may alter attachment, for example, Hazan found that relationship break-ups were associated with a shift from secure to insecure attachment.
  • Research by Berenson provides support for the claim that abused children have a difficult time developing adult relationships. He found that adult women who had been abused in childhood later displayed negative reactions towards the other person - but only people who reminded them of their abusive parent. Berenson concluded that this process of transference could lead individuals abused in childhood to use nagative behavioural patterns learned from their relationship with an abusive parent in their subsequent interpersonal relationships.
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Childhood on relationships: Evaluation

  • Although research suggests that romantic relationships in adolescence can be healthy for later adult relationships, it has also shown potential for negative effects. It was found that romantic involvement in adolescence was associated with decreases in academic achievement and increase in conduct problems. However, in late adolescence, romantic involvement was no longer related to these problems, suggesting that it is the timing of romantic relationships in adolescence that determines what influence, if any, they will have.
  • Madsen's findings that that heavy dating patterns during adolescence are associated with poorer quality of adult relationships is challenged by the findings that there is no effect of romantic relationships at age 20 on those at age 30, suggesting no consistent evidence that adolescent romantic relationships are the building blocks of adult relationships.
  • Experiments involving social deprivation is not posible on human children because of the ethical issues involved. However, a comparative study of non-human primates can provide compelling evidence of the necessity of peer interaction for adequate adjustment in adulthood. Studies by Harlow on rhesus monkeys reared with adequate adult but inadequate peer contact later displayed inappropriate social behaviour as adults. The longer they were denied to interact, the more extreme the inappropriate social behaviour in adults.
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Culture on relationships:

  • A feature of many Western cultures is that we live in a setting with relatively easy geographical and social mobility, ensuring that we interact with a large number of people on a daily basis. Western culture, therefore, appears to be characterised by a high degree of choice in romantic relationships. Non-Western cultures on the other hand have less geographical and social mobility, and people therefore have less choice about whom they interact with on a daily basis. As well as the influence of other factors such as family or economic resources.
  • Western cultures (individualist) also place great importance on the rights and freedom of the individual as happiness and pleasure are seen as fundimentally important. In non-Western cultures (collectivist), individuals are encouraged to be interdependent rather than independent. The cultural attitudes of individualist cultures, where the Individual's interests are more highly regarded tan group goals and interests, are consistent with the formation of romantic relationships that are based on freedom of choice rather than with the concerns of family or group (like collectivist cultures).
  • Differences between cultures regarding the importance of love, therefore, exist. Levine found that of US respondents expressed reluctance to marry in the absence of love (only 14% agreed). Whereas, those from India were higher (25%). This suggests that in collectivist cultures, it is the extended family that seems of great importance, and that romantic love is considered a luxury.
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Culture on relationships: Evaluation

  • Volunteer relationships ares't necessarily better. In fact, some societies, arranged marriages seem to work well, and indeed divorce rates are low, and, half of them reported that they have fallen in love with each other. Myers found that there was no difference in marital satisfaction between individuals in arranged marriages in India and individuals in non-arranged marriages in th US.
  • Also, it has been argued that parents may be in a better position to judge compatibility , whereas young people may be 'blinded by love' and overlook areas of incompatibility which may cause issues later.
  • However, in some developing cultures such as China, there has been a decrease in traditional arranged marriages, and in fact, have declined from 70% to 10%. A sudy of women in China found that those who married for love felt better about their marriages than those who experienced arranged marriages.
  • Research suggests that attotudes towards romantic relationships may be better explained by the greater mobility found in Western cultures rather than by cultural differences. For example, there has been a sharp increase in divorce rates in India despite it being regarded as a collectivist culture. As members of those being divorced are those of the thriving urban middle class, this suggests that their attitudes to relationships may be different to those of their parents as they are surrounded by more choice due to higher interaction rates.
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Culture on relationships: Evaluation

  • Pinker views romantic love as universal and that it has evolved to promote survival and reproduction among human beings. Being in a long-term committed relationship offers lower mortality rates, increased happiness and decreased stress. Therefore, there is a clear adaptive valueto being in a long-term relationship. However, for romantic love to be an evolved adaptation, it should be universal. Research has shown that romantic love is not exclusive to Western cultures, and actually, research found that 90% of the 166 cultures studied had clear evidence of romantic love. This therefore shows that romantic love is not exclusive to certain cultures but is an evolved adaptation.
  • Psychologists believe that the influence of US romantic comedies creates a warped sense of the perfect relationship and presents a culturally biased view of romance. This could have an adverse effect on children and adolescents own future relationships. Through questionnaires, it was found that fans of romantic comedies were more likely to have views of relationships that matched the themes of the films. For example, the films suggest that love and commitment exist from the moment people meet, but in reality, these qualities take years to develop.
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