Relationship Formation, Maintenance & Breakdown
- For romantic relationships to begin, there must be an attraction. Several factors have been identified that facilitate this: proximity, familiarity, similarity and physical attractiveness.
- The sociobiological explanation is an evolutionary theory. It perceives relationship formation as a form of 'survival efficiency', with different focuses between males and females.
- The reinforcement and needs satisfaction explanation is a behaviourist/learning explanation which sees conditioning as an explanation for relationship formation.
- Social exchange theory explains relationships in terms of maximising benefits and minimising costs.
- Equity theory views individuals as motivated to achieve fairness in their relationships and feel dissatisfied with unfairness.
- Duck and Lee both proposed theories of dissolution which describe relationship break-ups as a series of stages to be worked through.
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Evolutionary Explanations of Reproductive Behaviou
- Sexual selection involves the selection of characteristics increasing reproductive success.
- Differences between male and female sexual behaviour have arisen, as they are exposed to different selective pressures.
- Males and females have evolved different strategies to maximise reproductive success.
- Parental investment concerns investment in individual offspring, which increases the offspring's chances of achieving reproductive success, at the expense of parents' ability to invest in other children.
- Evolutionary theory predicts differences between how male and female parental investment differs, and these predictions have generally been supported.
- Parent-offspring conflict concerns confrontations which arise from children desiring greater investment than parents have been selected to provide.
- Offspring demonstrate various strategies in order to try and maximise parental investment in them at the expense of siblings.
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Early Experience & Culture
- The continuity hypothesis predicts that infant attachment types persist into adulthood, predicting the nature of adult relationships. This is supported by research.
- Evidence suggests that there is intergenerational continuity between adults' attachment styles and those of their children.
- Relationships with peers influence later adult relationships, playing a key role in helping achieve independence.
- Western cultures emphasise individualism, characterised by voluntary relationships, often of a short-term nature, based on ideas of romantic love.
- Non-western cultures emphasise collectivism, characterised by arranged marriages, generally of a long-term nature, based on ideals of the common good.
- Conflicts can arise in multicultural societies where a range of romantic relationship styles exist side by side.
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