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  • Created on: 11-06-19 20:04

Sexual Selection and Human Reproductive Behaviour

Anisogamy is the differences between male and female sex cells (gametes).

  • Male gametes (sperm): very small, highly mobile, plentiful from puberty to old age and need little energy to be produced.
  • Female gametes (ova): large, static, periodic production, available from puberty to menopause and require much more energy to produce.
  • The consequence of mate selection – many fertile males but few fertile women.
  • Inter-sexual selection, between the sexes.
    • Trivers, females make a greater investment before, during and after her offspring’s birth.
    • Females need to be more choosy, so select a genetically fit partner able to provide resources.
    • A female mates with a male with desirable characteristics so the traits are inherited by her son(s) - runaway process.
  • Intra-sexual selection, within each sex - Competition between males to mate with a female.
    • males do this as frequently as females are a limited resource and are choosy.
    • The winner reproduces and passes on to his offspring his characteristics.
    • Behavioural consequence - the most aggressive males are more likely to reproduce.
    • Behavioural consequence is a preference for younger and fertile females
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Sexual Selection and Human Reproductive Behaviour

P - One strength is support for the relationships with intra-sexual relationships.

E - Buss' survey found females value on resource-related characteristics, e.g. financial prospects, than males. Males value reproductive ability like appearance, chastity and preferred younger mates, more than females.

E - These findings reflect sex difference in mate strategies due to anisogamy, thus supporting its predictions about partner preference derived from sexual selection in theory.

P - There is research support for preference related Inter-sexual selection.

E - Clark & Hatfield sent students around asking, 'I have been noticing you around campus, I find you very attractive. Would you go to bed with me tonight?’ 75% males agreed, no female did.

P - One limation is the relationship ignores social and cultural influences.

E - Chang et al. report some preferences changed but others have remained the same over 25 years in China.

E - Women’s greater role in the workplace means they're not dependent on men to provide.

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Factors Affecting Attraction: Self-disclosure

Self-disclosure refers to revealing intimate information to another person. It plays an important role in relationship development.

Social penetration theory - Altman & Taylor

  • It is the gradual process revealing your inner self (deepest thoughts and feelings) to someone.
  • Revealing personal information shows trust. It is a reciprocal exchange.
  • While disclosing more and more, romantic partners ‘penetrate’ deeper into each other’s lives, gaining a greater understanding of each other.
  • Breadth and depth are important factors. Breadth is narrow because If we reveal too much too soon, it might be off-putting and possibly threaten the relationship. Depth increases, as a relationship develops more layers are gradually revealed. Eventually revealing intimate, high-risk info.

Reciprocity of self-disclosure

  • Reis & Shaver suggested along increase in breadth and depth there needs to be reciprocity.
  • Successful relationships will involve information from once partner revealed sensitively.
  • So, this should encourage self-disclosure from the other person.
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Factors Affecting Attraction: Self-disclosure - Ev

P - There is research support for self-disclosure.

E - Sprecher & Hendrick study found strong correlations between measures of satisfaction and self-disclosure. Men and women who self-disclose and who partners did the same were more satisfied and committed to their relationship.

P - There is real-life application to support for self-disclosure.

E - Hass & Stafford found 57% of gay men and women said open and honest self-disclosure was the main way they maintained and deepened their committed relationships.

P - One limitation is the theory does not apply to all cultures.

E - Tang et al. (2013) reviewed the research about sexual self-disclosure. Findings - men and women in the USA self-disclose significantly more sexual thoughts and feelings than men and women in China ‘collectivist culture’.

E - Both these levels of self-disclosure are linked to relationship satisfaction in those cultures - etic.

L - Self-disclosure theory is, therefore, a limited explanation of romantic relationships as they are based on findings from Western (individual) cultures, questions generalisability.

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Factors Affecting Attraction: Physical Attractiven

The importance of physical attractiveness

  • Shackelford & Larsen found that people with symmetrical faces are rated as more attractive.
  • It's thought genetic fitness is a sign of honesty as it’s difficult to fake facial symmetry.
  • Physical attractiveness explanations are evolutionary as we have evolved a liking for attributes that signal high quality.
  • People are attracted to neotenous faces (baby-face) for those are seen to trigger a protective or caring instinct, a valuable resource for females wanting to reproduce.
  • McNulty et al. found that the initial attractiveness continues to be an important feature of the relationship after marriage.
  • Dion et al. found physically attractive people are rated as kind, strong, sociable, and successful than ugly people. Halo effect - the belief that good-looking people have these characteristics to make them even more attractive to us – so behave positively towards them.

Matching hypothesis Walster et al. - People choose romantic partners who are roughly the same level attractiveness as themselves.

  • To do this we assess our own ‘value’ to a potential partner; our choice of partners is a compromise to avoid being rejected by someone ‘out of their league’.
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Factors Affecting Attraction: Physical Attractiven

P - There is research support for the halo effect.

E - Palmer & Peterson found physical attractive people were rated as cleverer and more competent.

E - This halo effect was so powerful that it persisted even when participants knew they had no expertise. Perhaps there are dangers if politicians are judged as suitable for office since they’re considered physically attractive.

L - The existence of the halo effect has been found to apply in many other areas of everyday life. Thus, confirming that physical attractiveness is an important factor in the initial formations of relationships, romantic or otherwise.

P - One limitation is Individual differences

E - Towhey found participants who scored high on the MACHO scale were more influenced by physical attractiveness. Low scorers were less sensitive to this influence.

P - There is mixed research support for the matching hypothesis.

E - Walster et al. original study attempted to confirm the matching hypothesis failed to do so 

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Factors Affecting Relationships: Filter Theory

Explains attraction in terms of attitudes and personalities. First, we find our field of availables then select through 3 filters.

Social demography (1st level of filter)

  • You are much more likely to meet people who are physically close and share several demographic characteristics. We may meet people who live far, our most meaningful and memorable interactions are with who are close - the rest are filtered out.

Similarity in attitudes (2nd level of filter)

  • Sharing values and beliefs are important to the development of romantic relationships, however, this only applies to couples who have been together for less than 18 months. In earlier stages agreeing over basic values, promotes better communication, and self-disclosure.
  • Byrne described similarity causes attraction - the law of attraction. If such similarity does not exist then they may go out a few times, but the relationships won’t last.

Complementary (3rd level of filter)

  • The ability of romantic partners to meet each other’s need; two partners complement each other when they have traits the other lacks.
  • Complementarity gives romantic partners a feeling that together they form a whole.
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Factors Affecting Relationships: Filter Theory - E

P - There is support from research evidence.

E - Winch found evidence that personality similarities between partners are typical of the earliest stages but complementary needs more importance.

E - This supports at least two filters of the theory and also suggests that filters may determine the development of the relationship.

L - This means the face validity of the theory has been supported in surveys of actual relationships.

P - One limitation is the lack of replication of the ordinal findings.

E - Levinger has suggested social changes and to the difficulties defining the depth of a relationship could be lack or replicability.

P - Another limitation is the questions about the direction of cause and effect.

E - Davis & Rusbult suggest that attitude alignment takes place, suggesting that similarity is an effect of initial attraction and not the cause.

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Theories of Romantic Relationship: Social exchange

Thibault & Kelley proposed that behaviour in relationships reflects the economic assumption of exchange. We minimise losses and maximise gains (the minimax principle) and judge our satisfaction within a relationship with the profit it yields. Rewards and cost.

  • Rewards (e.g. sex) and costs (e.g. stress) are subjective. Cost and reward values change.
  • The comparison level (CL) is the judgment of reward level we expect from past relationships and social norms. CL is high = relationship worth pursuing but Low self-esteem = low CL.
  • The comparison level for alternative considers if we may gain more rewards and few costs in a different relationship, assuming is selecting is available in that culture.
  • Duck suggests we adopt the Clalt depending on the state of our current relationship and there are always alternatives. If the cost is too much, alternatives become attractive.

Stages of relationships.

  • Sampling stage – explore the rewards and costs by trailing relationships or observing others.
  • Bargaining stage – partners negotiate the exchange of various rewards and costs.
  • Commitment stage – relationship is stable as rewards increase and cost lessen.
  • Institutionalisation stage – Partners are settled as the relationship norms are established.
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Theories of Romantic Relationship: Social exchange

P – A limitation concerns the direction of effect.

E – Miller found that people who rated themselves in a highly committed relationship spent less time looking at images of attractive people.

E – The previous evidence shows that people in a committed relationship ignore even the most attractive alternatives and so discrediting SET’s predictions as partners must feel dissatisfied first before thinking about alternatives.

L - This questioning it as an incomplete theory because it’s predictions on dissatisfaction do not coincide with real relationships.

P – SET doesn’t consider equity in a relationship.

E – The equity theory explains that there needs to be the fairness of the distribution of rewards and costs or there will be consequences for the relationship.

L – SET has neglected this factor within its theory further limiting is as an explanation which cannot account for a significant proportion of the research findings on relationships.

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Theories of Romantic Relationship: The Equity Theo

Walster et al. suggested what matters most with equity is that both partners level of ‘profit’ is roughly the same. Lack of equity is when one partner over-benefits and the other under-benefits leading to dissatisfaction.

  • The under-benefiter will feel greater dissatisfaction and express anger, hostility, and humiliation.
  • The over-benefiter is like to feel guilt, discomfort, and shame.
  • It’s not the size or amount of the rewards and costs that matters but the ratio of the two to each other.

Consequences of Inequity

  • The greater the perceived inequity, the greater the dissatisfaction: equity predicts a strong correlation between the two.
  • What makes us most dissatisfied is a change in the level of perceived equity as time goes on.
  • The inequity has to be addressed.
    • The under-benefiter will work hard to make the relationship more equitable if they believe it is possible to so to and that the relationship is salvageable.
  • The more unfair the relationship feels, the harder they’ll work to restore equity.
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Theories of Romantic Relationship: The Equity Theo

P – There is real-life application which supports that the equity theory as a more valid explanation than SET.

E – Utne et al. found that couples that considered their relationship equitable were more satisfied than those who saw themselves over or under-benefitting.

E – This research confirms the prediction of equity theory which increases its validity as an explanation of romantic relationships.

E – A problem with this study is the equity's subjectiveness and so believing you are over or under-benefitting is personal and many may not share that view thus impacting a relationship.

L – Though research confirms the predictions of equity theory which increasing validity as an explanation of relationships but studies may lack generalisability because of subjective findings.

P – The equity theory is imposing etic as it assumes that the need for equity is universal 

E – Ryan at al. (2007) found from individualist cultures, couples regarded relationships to be most satisfying with equitable, whereas collectivist culture couples were most satisfied when they were over-benefiting. This was true of both men and women.

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Theories of Romantic Relationship: Rusbult’s inves

A satisfying relationship is judged by comparing rewards and costs. Each partner is satisfied if they are getting more out of the relationship based on previous experience and social norms.

  • Investment is the extent and importance of the resources associated with the relationship.
  • Satisfaction level - the extent to which the partners feels the rewards outweigh the costs.
  • CLalt - whether a relationship with someone else would reap more rewards than costs.
  • Intrinsic investments – resources we put into a relationship. Extrinsic investments – resources that previously didn’t feature in the relationship but are associated with it.
  • High levels of satisfaction + less attractive alternatives + increasing investments = commitment.
  • Commitment matters more than satisfaction.
  • Dissatisfied partners will stay in a relationship as they’re committed because they have invested in their relationship.

Relationship maintenance mechanism (RMM), behaviours to keep the relationship going.

  • Accommodation – promoting the relationship. • Willingness to sacrifice – put partners interests first. • Forgiveness – forgive them for any serious transgressions. •Positive illusion’s – unrealistically positive about their partner. •Ridiculing alternatives – negative about tempting alternatives and other people’s relationships.
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Theories of Romantic Relationship: Rusbult’s inves

P – There is evidence that supports Rusbult’s investment model.

E – Le & Agnew’s meta-analysis found that satisfaction, comparison with alternatives and investment were all strong indicators of commitment to a long-lasting relationship.

E – Findings were also found to be replicable across cultures, genders, and homosexual relationships. Thus, improving the model’s validity as some of its factors are universal.

E – However, many of the studies relating to investment in relationship rely on self-report technique which is less reliable and subjective. 

L – This is a problem as there is room to question the studies which could lead to questioning the model’s validity as research supporting it could be unreliable.

P – There there is no evidence of causation to support the investment model.

E – Most studies don’t allow conclusions that any factors cause commitment in a relationship. It could’ve been interpreted as the more committed you feel towards your partner, the more investments your willing to make.

L – So the direction of causality made by the reverse of the model’s predictions, limiting its validity as an explanation for romantic relationships.

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Theories of Romantic Relationship: Duck’s Phase Mo

Duck argued a relationship breakdown not a single event, but a process with phases which lead to the end of the relationship. Each phase has a ‘threshold’. The break-up beings once a partner realises, they’re dissatisfied with the relationship.

  • Intra-Psychic Phase - one of the partners begins to have doubts about the relationship.
    • They think about the relationship's pros, cons, and possible alternatives, even being alone.
    • Feelings may become internalised or confide in a trusted friend.
  • Dyadic Phase - Partners discuss their feelings about the relationship.
    • There may be a period of hostility.
    • Discussions on equity and renewed resolution to invest in the relationship or the realisation that the relationship has broken down.
  • Social Phase - The break-up is made public and friends are encouraged to choose a side.
    • Friends may urge for reconciliation, or support the breakdown with opinions or hidden facts.
    • Each party may seek support from friends, no there's no point of repairment.
  • Grave-Dressing Phase - The relationship has ended completely.
    • Each partner will create a favourable story of the events, why the breakup wasn't their fault.
    • Retaining their social value and not lowering their chances of future relationships.
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Theories of Romantic Relationship: Duck’s Phase Mo

P – One limitation is the model is that is it imcomplete.

E – Rollie & Duck (2006) suggests the original Duck Phase model as oversimplified and so added a fifth phase – resurrection phase.

E – The new model also emphasises the processes that occur in relationship breakdown rather than linear movements from one phase to the next.

L – These changes overcome a weakness from the original model as it didn’t account for the dynamic nature of break-ups with all their inherent uncertainty and complexity.

P – Most research into Duck’s model is retrospective.

E – Participants generally give their experience of their breakdown process sometime after the relationship had ended. 

P – A strength of this model is that it various ways of reversing it.

E – Duck (1994) recommend partners in the intra-psychic phase focus on positive aspects of their partners. 

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Virtual Relationships in Social Media

Self-disclosure is different in face-to-face (FtF) and online relationships. The increased use of social media has led to research on differences in online relationships and face-to-face.

  • Reduced cues theory in virtual relationships may lead to less self-disclosure
    • Sproull & Kiesler suggested these relationships are less effective due to the lack of nonverbal cues (e.g. facial expressions). which could lead to de-individualization.
  • Hyperpersonal model suggests early self-disclosure means that relationships develop quickly.
    • But, CMC relationships can end quickly due to high excitement levels but low trust levels.
  • Absence of gating in virtual relationships
    • A gate is any obstacle which interferes with the formation of a relationship.
    • McKenna & Bargh (1999) argued an advantage CMC is the absence of gating.
    • Thus relationships can develop once where self-disclosure is more frequent and deeper.
    • Absence of gating works by refocusing attention on self-disclosure and away from superficial and distracting features.
    • However, people can create an untrue persona.
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Virtual Relationships in Social Media - Evaluation

P – One limitation is the lack of research support for the reduced cues theory.

E – Walther & Tidwell (1995) point out that people in online interactions use other cues, like the style and timing of their messages and expressions through emoticons or an emoji.

P – One strength of the hyperpersonal model is its supporting research.

E – Whitty & Joinson (2009) found questions asked in online discussions tend to be direct, probing and intimate; so are responses which is different from FtF conversations.

P – Another limitation of the explanation is that they do not distinguish types of CMC.

E – In a social networking site context, people interacting with each other generally have relationships in the offline world.

E - Paine et al. found those who disclose Facebook status updates are willing to complete an online web-form but they are reluctant to disclose information they consider to be private.

L – Any theory that sees CMC as a single concept neglects its richness and variety and is therefore unlikely to be a completely valid explanation.

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Parasocial relationship

Levels of Parasocial relationship in terms of attitudes, and behaviours linked to extreme celebrity worship: 

  • Entertainment-social: least intensive level – celebrities are sources of entertainment and fuel social interaction.
  • Intense-personal: intermediate level – a greater personal involvement in a Parasocial relationship with a celebrity.
  • Borderline pathological: strongest level – uncontrollable fantasies and extreme behaviours.

The absorption-addiction model explains the tendency to form Parasocial relationships terms of deficiencies people have in their lives (i.e. lack of fulfillment, escape, stress.)

  • Absorption – seeking fulfillment in celebrity worship motivates the individual to focus their attention as only the celebrity, pre-occupied in their existence and identify with them.
  • Addiction – the individual sustains their commitment to their relationship by feeling strong and closer involvement. Leading to extreme behaviours and delusional thinking.

The Attachment theory explanation

  • Bowlby’s suggested such early difficulties may lead to emotional troubles later in life.
  • Insecure-resistant types are most likely to form Parasocial relationship as adults because of wanting to have unfulfilled needs met but in a relationship with no threat of rejection, break-up, and disappointments
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Parasocial relationship - Evaluations

P – There is research support for the absorption-addiction model.

E – Maltby et al. found females reported an intense-personal Parasocial relationship with a female celebrity’s body shape they admired.

E – Researchers found these female adolescents tended to have a poor body image, suspected as a precursor to eating disorders like anorexia nervosa. 

L – This study support model because they confirm the prediction of a correlation between the level (type and intensity) of celebrity worship and poor psychological functioning.

P – There some problems with the attachment theory.

E – McCutcheon et al. found that participants with insecure attachments were no more likely to form Parasocial relationships with celebrities than participants with secure attachments.

P – There are also methodological issues with research on Parasocial relationships.

E – One issue is the use of self-report methods to collect data, for example, online questionnaires. Also, most studies use correlational analysis, e.g. strong correlations between celebrity worship and body image.

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