Relationships - theorists and studies

outlining of theories and studies


Formation - The Matching Hypothesis

Murstein (1972) - Claimed that while we might desire the most physically attractive partner, in reality we know we are unlikely to get them so we look for someone of similar level attractiveness.

Walster (1966) - Individuals go for more socially desirable people (physically attractiveness, social standing intelligence etc). And couple who are matched are more likely to have a happier relationships.

Walster dance study (1966) - randomly paired dates - supported the idea that individuals go for the most socially desirable person, but does support Walsters two hypotheses as social standing and intelligence was not taken in to account. (all based on physical)

Walster repeated study (1969) - this time the participants met their dates before the dance and had more time to think about other qualitites than physical attractiveness, findings showed that students most liked those with the same level of attractiveness as them which supports the matching hypothesis. (support)

Takeuchi (2006) - found that physicall attractiveness was more valued by men (gender differences)

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Formation - Reward/need satisfaction model

Byrne and Clore (1970) - reward/need model - we form relationships because we are fulfilled by them as we gain rewards such as comfort, happiness, sex, self-esteem etc. Operant conditioning - positive and negative reinforcement play a role. Classical conditioning - liking through pleasant association.

May and Hamilton (1980) - support for classical conditioning. Female participants rated male photos better looking when listening to pleasant music, compared to control group with the same photos and no music. (support)

Hays (1985) - He said that the reward/need model places too much emphasis on receiving rather than totality of a couple giving and receiving which is important. (against)

Lott (1994) - found that women are more socialised and more attentive to needs of others such as their husbands and children. (gender differences)

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Formation - Similarity

Byrne, Clore, and Smeaton (1986) - This model emphasises similarity of personality and of attitudes. Research had demonstrated that people are more likely to be attracted to others who have similar personalities than them themselves. Research has also suggested that partners may modify their attitude in order for their relationship to develop, for example attitudes to ideal holiday destinations.

Caspi and Herbener (1990) - found that married couples with similar personalities tend to be happier than couples with less similar personalities (support)

Yoshida (1972) - pointed out that similarity of other factors such as self-concept and ecomonic level is not included, therefore it is a reductionist and deterministic model as it only deals with attitude and personality. (against)

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Maintenance - Social Exchange Theory

Thibaut and Kelly (1959) - economic theory that assumes that everyone tries to maximise the rewards (affection etc) and minimise the costs (dealing with other person's emotional problems etc). Four stages relationships go through - sampling, bargaining, commitment, institutionalisation. Reference levels - comparision level, comparision level for alternatives.

Mills and Clark (1979) - identified two types of intimate relationships, the communal couple (each partner gives out concern for each other) and the exchange couple (each keeps a mental record of who's ahead and who's behind). Therefore contradicts Social Exchange Theory

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Maintenance - Equity Theory

Walster (1978) - Four principles of Equity Theory. 1 - Individuals try to maximise their rewards and minimise their costs. 2 - Distribution of rewards is negotiated to ensure fairness. 3 - Unfair or inadequate relationships provide distress, especially in the disadvantaged person. 4 - As long as the disadvantaged person feels there is a chance of restoration, he or she will try to re-establish Equity.

Hatfield et al - Newlyweds reported whether they felt benefited or under-benefited in what they contribute to their marriage. The under-benefited had lowest level of overall satisfaction, and tended to experience anger. The over-benefited came next and felt guilty. Those who percieved their marriage equitable had the highest level of satisfaction. (support)

Feeney et al (1994) - found that Equity theory failed to predict relationship satisfaction because it fails to take in to account the variance of in the contexts of modern day relationships. (against)

Clark and Mills (1979) - identified two types of relationships. Therefore lacks empirical evidence. (against)

Prins et al (1993) - for women unequity made them consider having an affair or infact having one, but this was not the case for men. (gender differences)

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Breakdown - Relationship Dissolution

Duck (2001) - Relationships go wrong - 3 broad categories. 1 - Incompatibility. 2 - Can't live together. 3 - Betrayal. He also put forward a four stage model which he later developed in 2006.

Rollie and Duck (2006) - Model of relationship breakdown. Intrapsychic processes > Dyadic processes > Social processes > Grave-dressing processes > Resurrection processes.

Akert (1998) - Partners who did not initiate break up tended to be most miserable and depressed about the break up. Partners who did initiate the break-up found the experience afterwards less painful and least stressful, however did report feeling guilty.

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Breakdown - Evolutionary Explanation

Evolutionary Explanation - Four predictions of relationship breakdown. Costs related to emotional investment, Increasing Committment, Infidelity, and Reputational damage.

Perilloux and Buss (2008) - Support for all 4 predictions. Found that females more than males reported higher lebels of costs associated with emotional commitment. Males reported success at preventing a break-up by increasing their levels of commitment. More male rejectors reported having sex with other mates prior to beak-up. Rejectors indicated a higher cost of being seen as cruel and heartless compared to the rejectees.

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Human reproductive behaviour - Sexual selection

Three main traits humans look for - physical attraction, mental characteristics (humour and intelligence etc), and providing potential. SEX DIFFERENCES PLAYS BIG PART IN THIS THEORY.

Buss (1989) - Support for sex differences. Spanned 37 cultures in six continents and five islands and involved 10,000 people. Found that women of all cultures showed a preference with men who had resources (example financial stability). Men places more value on physical attractiveness - an indication of a womens health and therefore her fertility and reproductive value.

Miller et al (2007) - Lap dancers and fertility. Found that when dancers who were not on the pill entered their fertile period, they earned significantly more in tips than dancers who were on the pill. Suggests that women somehow advertise their fertility, and that men are attracted to fertile and healthy women. (support)

Sperm Competition - important factor in determining which male is successful in fertilising a females egg. As a result of this competition, males have evolved larger penises and larger testicles etc.

Buss and Schmitt (1993) - said that men tend to be much more likely to have short term relationships than women.

Clark and Hatfield (1989+1990) - found 75% of men agreed to casual sex with a stranger they just met on campus, where as no women agreed at all.

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Human reproductive behaviour - Parental Investment

Trivers (1972) - said that males and females do not invest equally. Females - more time and effort as have to carry child for nine months and have resources to comfort child once born. Males do not have certainty that offspring is theirs so they may not invest and carry on fertilising. Men can potentially have as many offspring as the amount of times they have sexual intercourse.

Norman and Kenrick (2006) - Participants were asked to design a short term partner. They found that both men and men were most interested in physical attractiveness. This supports parental investment as it involves choosing the right genes for offspring.

Buss and Schmitt (1993) - against. They developed the sexual strategies theory which argues that reproductive behaviour is varied and that humans have different mating strategies depending on the context and situation. However it does agree that differences between males and females in parental investment leads to differences in mating preferences.

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Human reproductive behaviour - Parental Investment

Trivers (1974) - Weaning conflict. He aruged that parental investment is obtained through the use of psychological methods such as tantrums.

Horr and Wilson (1977) - found that young orangutans whine at their mothers when being weaned.

Daly and Wilson (1981) - extended on Triver's research and described strategies such as regression, where children resort to overuse of baby talk and increased demands for attention.

Fouts et al (2005) - Weaning and parent-offspring conflict in different cultures. Bofi farmers and foragers. The children of the farmers exhibited high levels of distress though to be caused by the abrupt weaning process. In contrast, the forager children who had experienced a gradual decline in breastfeeding, showed lower levels of distress.

Flinn (1989) - Conflict at puberty. Although mother wants grand children, she only shares 23% of their genes, as her own children share 50% it is more beneficial for a mother to have another child of her own. Women in this position will be in conflict over the right to reproduce. Followed by researhc in Trinidad which supports that mothers are daughters are more likely to have conflict if the mother is still of reproductive age.

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subina begum


Loved the first year of psychology but hate the second year.



Damn it where was this resource earlier?! Would have killed to find it before the night of my exam lol

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