Relationships Evaluation Points

  • Created by: mayono1
  • Created on: 24-09-18 08:51


- Several predictions about self-disclosure derived from social penetration theory have been supported by research. Sprecher and Hendrick (2004) studied heterosexual dating couples and foundstrong correlations between several measures of satisfaction and self-disclosure. Laurenceau et al (2005) used a method that involved writing daily diary entries. They found that self-disclosure and the perception of self-disclosure in a partner were linked to higher levels of intimacy in long-term married couples. Such supportive evidence increase our confidence in the validity of the theory that self-disclosure leads to more satisfying relationships.

- The prediction that increasing breadth and depth of self-disclosures will lead to a more satisfying and intimate romantic relationship is not true for all cultures. For example, Tang et al (2013) reviewed the research literature regarding sexual self-disclosure. They concluded that men and women in the USA self-disclose significantly more than men and women in China. Self-disclosure theory is therefore a limited explanation of romantic relationships.

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Physical Attractiveness

- Research supporting the halo effect was done by Palmer and Peterson (2012) and they found that physically attractive people were rated as more politically knowledgeable and competent than unattractive people. This halo effect was so powerful that it persisted even when participants knew that these 'knowledgeable' people had no particular expertise. The existence of the halo effect has been found to apply in many other areas of everyday life, confirming that physical attractiveness is an important factor in the initial formation of relationships.

- A criticism of this factor is that there is individual differences meaning some just don't seem to attach much importance to physical attractiveness. For example, Towhey (1979) asked male and female participants to rate how much they would like a target individual based on their photograph. They also completed a questionnaire to measure sexist attitudes and behaviours. He found that those who scored high on the scale were more influenced by physical attractiveness. This shows that the effects of physical attractiveness can be moderated by other factors, and so challenges the notion that it is a significant consideration in relationship formation.

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Filter Theory

- Filter theory assumes that the key factors in a relationship change over time. This makes sense and agrees with most people's experience of romantic relationships, so the theory has face validity. More importantly, however, it also benefits from some research support. For example, Peter Winch (1958) found evidence that similarities in personality, interests and attitudes between partners are typical of the earliest stages of relationships. This echoes the matching hypothesis, but not just in terms of physical attractiveness. Between married partners, complementarity is more important.

- George Levinger (1974) pointed out that many studies have failed to replicate the original findings that formed the basis of filter theory. He put this down to social changes over time and also to the difficulties inherent in defining the depth of a relationship in terms of it's length. Kerckhoff and Davis chose an 18 month cut-off point to distinguish between short term and long term relationships. They assumed that partners who has been together longer than this were more committed and had a deeper relationship. This highlights the problems in applying the filter theory even to other heterosexual couples in the individualist culture, nevermind to homosexual couples in another culture

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Social Exchange Theory

- Many researchers don't accept the economic metaphor underlying SET. Margaret Clark and Judson Mills (2011) argue that the theory fails to distinguish between two types of relationship. They suggest that exchange relationships do involved social exchange as SET predicts but communal relationships are marked by the giving and recieving of rewards without keeping score. SET claims that partners return rewards for rewards, costs for costs, and that they are monitored. It is clear from some research that SET is based on faulty assumptions and therefore cannot account for the majority of romantic relationships.

- The central concern of SET is the comparison level, the ratio of percieved rewards and costs. But this focus ignores one crucial factor that may be an overwhelming consideration for romantic partners - fairness or equity. There is much research support for the role of equity in relationships, and the view that this is more important than just the balance of rewards and costs. This means that it's a limited explanation which cannot account for a significant proportion of the research findings on relationships.

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