Romantic Relationships PSYA3


Formation of romantic relationships - AO1

Reward/Need Satisfaction theory (Byrne and Clore)

  • Reward = positive feeling from the person
  • Punishment = negative feeling from the person
  • We associate the feeling we have at the time with the person.
  • The feeling we have when with the person will determine whether we repeat the action and see them again. This is called Operant Conditioning.
  • However the mood we are in when we meet the person can also contribute to whether we see them again.
  • Good mood = we want to see them again
  • Bad mood = we are less likely to see them again
  • This may not be due to the person but the mood they are in when they meet.
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Formation of romantic relationships - AO2

Research Support for Reward/Need Satisfaction theory.

  • Participants liked their experimenter when they gave them praise (e.g reward) for a creative task they were told to do. (Griffit and Guay)
  • Pariticipants who rated themselves highly on romantic relationships showed strong activity in parts of the brain such as ventral tegmental area. Also in the early stages of a relationship areas of the brain which have high levels of dopamine show increase activity. (Aron)

How important are rewards?  

  • A study of 337 individuals assessing their relationship showed that it is not just important to gain rewards as part of a relationship however one can gain satisfaction from giving rewards too. (Cate)
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Formation of romantic relationships- AO1&2

Similarity theory (Byrne, Clore and Smeaton) - AO1

  • Similarity theory says that we are more likely to be attracted to people who have similar personalities to us.
  • Research suggests that married couples who are similar in personality to eachother tend to be happier. (Caspi and Herberner)
  • However its also been studied that people change their veiws and attitudes to agree with the other. and to allow the relationship to develop. This is called 'attitude alignment'.

Limitations for similarity theory - AO2

  • Dissimilarity rather than similarity important because its the things they dont have in common which can stop the relationship developing.
  • This study only represents a narrow veiw of factors which contribute to forming a relationship (Yoshida), for example a study showed that people tend to choose to have a relationship with people of similar body fat (Speakman)
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Formation of romantic relationships - AO3

  • Cultural Differences- as most of these studies were taken in a western culture its likely that none-western cultures will have a difference approach to formation of relationships.
  • Evolutionary- the part of the brain associated with rewards has evolved with our ancestors to allow us to focus on certain individuals in forming relaitonships.
  • Mundane realism- the majority of these studies were done in a lab enviroment and therefore lack the elements to be transfered to real life enviroment.
  • Free will or determinism - as the studies suggest from the similarity theory we can change our attitudes to fit into a relationship developing, this shows determinism as we can ammend our behaviour.
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Maintenence of romantic relationships - AO1

Social Exchange theory (Thiabut and Kelley)

  • Works on a profit/loss basis where we want to acheive maximum profit with minimalist loss.
  • To gain maximum profit we exhcange resourses such as money and insurance.
  • In order for the relationship to be satisfactory the rewards need to outway the costs.
  • Rewards: being cared for, companionship and sex.
  • Costs: effort, money, and time wasting.
  • The comparison level is the level between our past experiences and our general expectation of the realtionship.
  • If we judge a relationship as exceeding our CL by profit we would see it as worthwhile.
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Maintenence of romantic relationships - AO2

Social Exchange theory (Thiabut and Kelley)

  • Research Support
  • When investments are high such as money, children and security and alternatives are low such as no money and no place to live, staying the the relationship will be seen as beneficial. (Rusbult and Martz)
  • Participants were asked to rate members of the opposite sex in attractiveness those in a relationship rated lower showing they were trying to support/protect the relationship. (Simpson)
  • Limitations of social exchange
  • This theory focuses too much on selfish means of staying in a relationship.
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Maintenence of romantic relationships - AO1&2

Equity theory (Walster)- AO1

  • In a relationship, people strive to find equilibrium between resources and cost, if this is not acheived distress can occur. For example if someone puts more into the relationship than they are getting out may feel distress.
  • The ratio of inputs and outputs in a relationship can change and so to gain equality in the relationship we may ammend these to meet the demands of the relationship.

Limitations of the Equity theory- AO2

  •  Relationships arent all about money and some depend on lovers and are abot responding to the needs of the partner. (Clark and Mills)
  • The claim that the equity theory is the key determinant of relationship satisfaction is rejected by the fact that the way married people behave, which is with respect to eacother shows the equity theory has its flaws and is a selfish theory.(Ragsdale and Brandau-Brown)
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Maintenence of romantic relationships - AO3

  • Cultural Bias- This theory of relationships revolving around money only applies to the western cultures who have many short-term relationships with high mobility.
  • Sex, Lies and Social Exchange- Sex is often used as a reward, also out of 267 students males were the most likely to lie to get sex and shows it can be used as both a reward and a cost. (Marelich)
  • Gender Differences- In relationships that the male earned the most money his job was deemed most important but when the female earned the most money neither job was deemed important. This shows that women dont have equality in the home.
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Breakdown of romantic relationships - AO1

Reasons for relationship breakdown - Duck

  • Lack of skills.
  • Relationship is unrewarding, the cost has gone above the rewards in the relaitonship and so isnt worth staying in the relationship as nothing is being gained.
  • This can cause the relationship to be uninteresting and maybe a reason to want to leave.
  • Lack of stimulation.
  • If relationship is boring it can cause someone to want to leave.
  • This may be because the relationship doesnt develop and is not going anywhere.
  • Lack of maintenence.
  • Strains put on the relationship can cause a breakdown for example moving away can cause a lack of contact and so could cause a relationship to breakdown.
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Breakdown of romantic relationships - AO2

Reasons for breakdown - Duck

  • Research Support.
  • Research into extramartial affiars asked participants to rate affairs for various sexual and emotional reasons. Results showed men would have an affair for sexual reasons (boredom, variety and sexual excitement) whereas women do it for emotional reasons (neglet, lack of commitment). (Boekhout)
  • Research limitation.
  • Long distance romantic relationships are more common that first thought, around 70% of american students had experienced a long distance romantic relationship and 90% had experienced a long distance friendship which showed that the reasons are not always reasons for breakdown.
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Breakdown of romantic relationships - AO1&2

Model of Breakdown - Rollie and Duck - AO1

  • Breakdown- not happy in relationship.
  • Intrapsychic processes- pointing out partners flaws and faults.
  • Dyadic processes- anxious hostile and uncertain about relationship.
  • Social processes- going public and seeking support about decision to end relationship.
  • Grave dressing- saving face by staying friends, 'keep it clean'
  • Ressurrection- what want in a new relationship/what learnt for next time.

Model of Breakdown - Rollie and Duck - AO2

  • Support- Students who broke up with partners recently experienced emotional stress however personal growth which is done through grave dressing process and resurrection.
  • Contradiction- the model was created by evaluated speach from recently broken up people so may not be reliable as it could contain demand characterstics.
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Breakdown of romantic relationships - AO3

  • Gender Differences- Women are more likely to show stress during a relationship and men more likely to suppress any feelings and get upset through the witholding of sex. However women are more likely to want to stay friends after the relationship.
  • Ethical issues- Research into recently broken up relationships can cause distress and could be a vialation of privacy and confidentiality. For example if a women who was in an abusive relaitonships talks she may be in danger of more abuse from partner.
  • Relationship skills- Couples who went through CCET (couples coping enhancement training) showed a showed an increase martial quality after the CCET compared to the control book.
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