Relationships

  • Formation
  • Maintanence
  • Breakdown of Relationships
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Describe two theories of formations, maintanence a

Reward/Need Satisfaction Theory-This theory is based on learning theory and states that we form relationships that provide rewards (reinforcement) and satisfy our needs. Rewards include companionship, being loved, sex, status, money, help, and agreement with our opinions, as shown by Foa and Foa.

Both operant and classical conditioning are influential.

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Economic Theories: Social Exchange Theory (SET)-relationships provide both rewards (e.g. affection, sex, emotional support) and costs (e.g. providing support, not always having your own way). Everyone tries to maximise rewards while minimising costs.
Thibaut and Kelley argued that long-term friendships and relationships go through four stages: sampling, bargaining, negotiation, and institutionalisation, when rewards and costs are established and entrenched. How satisfied individuals are with the rewards and costs of a relationship will depend on what they have come to expect from previous relationships. In other words, they have a comparison level (CL), representing the outcomes they believe they deserve on the basis of past experiences—so if in the past they have had very poor relationships they may expect very little from subsequent ones. In addition, their level of satisfaction will depend on the rewards and costs that would be involved if they formed a relationship with someone else; this is known as the “comparison level for alternatives” (CLalt).
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Economic Theories: Equity Theory-extension of social exchange theory. The basic assumption is that people only consider a relationship to be satisfactory if what they gain from it reflects what they give to it. This means that if one person contributes more, they feel they should get more out of it. Equity is especially important at the beginning of a relationship rather than when it is firmly established.
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