Research relating to Understudied Relationships

  • Created by: Rebecca
  • Created on: 11-05-15 08:36

Problems for Homosexuals

  • Mainstream Psychology focuses on face-to-face romantic relationships between heterosexuals in western societies, understudied relationships are any that fall outside of this narrow research. One problem is that is difficult for homosexuals to recognise each other.
  • Shaw highlights that a gay bar is one place where they can seek potential partners. Growing up in a world that deems homosexuality to be wrong makes it difficult for them to come out and form relationships. Research supports the belief that straight people can openly express their affection. Greene found that 90% of homosexuals have reported being being victims of homophobic threats and abuse - it is argued society is becoming more tolerant. Women have an additional problem in that they tend to be more reactive so it is difficult for someone to make the first move.
  • Davidson found that gay men tend to seek physically attractive features, male status symbols and a well-paid career. Huston and Schwartz found that lesbians are more attracted to personality, although more recently they've started to seek self-sufficiency and strength in a long-term partner.
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  • A number of stratergies that homosexuals use to maintain relationships have been identified.
  • Research shows that gay men minimise conflict and show a high level of appreciation for each other. They use conversational stratergies to 'challenge' each other which 'keeps the relationship moving'.
  • Huston and Schwartz state that lesbians strive to maintain and equitable balance of power and use conversational techniques to create emotional intimacy, research suggests that males avoid emotional intimacy.
  • Nardi and Sherrod have found no difference in the levels of openness and intimacy between gay and lesbian couples. This casts doubt on the notion that there are differences between gay and lesbian relationships.
  • Blumstein and Schwartz (1983) found that 48% of lesbian and 36% of gay couples broke up within two years of being interviewed, compared with 29% of heterosexual couples and 14% of married couples. Gottman et al (2003) found however that there was a similar rate of dissolution of heterosexual couples.
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Blumstein and Schwartz (1983) suggested gay relationships were less stable than lesbian or heterosexual. We might expect this because men find sex without emotional commitment more acceptable than women do, however some studies have found the opposite to be the case. Kurdek (2003) found that lesbian relationships were shorter than those of gay men and Gottman et al (2003) also found that most relationship dissolutions were between lesbians. Kurdek's sample was well matched (all couples cohabiting, none with children). All were recruited the same way through adverts in the gay press, however some couples were lost each year. The sample was also predominantely well educated so not representative. Both Kurdek and Gottman's studies were longitudinal which is an advantage.

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Computer Mediated Conversation

  • Interaction that is not FtF such as letters or more recently, texting, instant messaging, email and social networking. It has been argued to be less complete than FtF.
  • Reduced cues theory suggests that it lacks physical and social cues such as eye contact, and the stress, volume and tempo of speech.The Reduced Cues theory (Culnan and Markus 1987) suggests that this makes it less effective than face to face interaction in the development of relationships. This makes sense as it is argued that physical attractiveness, conversational skills and facial expressions are important in the formation and maintainance of relationships.
  • Culnan and Markus (1987) also suggest that having fewer cues leads to deindividuation that fosters uninhibited behaviour. As CmC lacks social norms users may be more aggressive and implusive. A difficulty in expressing emotion due to reduced cues makes it less effective for developing relationships, however the speed of a reply can indicate interest. It has been found that a slow reply to a social message was seen as more intimate and affectionate than an immediate one.
  • If CmC was emotion free we wouldn't be able to use it to hurt people, but bullying by text and email is common in schools (Mason 2008).
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