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  • Created on: 11-04-15 16:52

Formation: The Matching Hypothesis (Walster)

 A person’s search for a partner is influenced by what they want in a partner and who they think they can get (‘realistic choices’)

·         The more socially desirable a person is, they more they would expect their potential partner to be

·         This includes whether they’re similar in levels of attraction, intelligence and social standing

·         Those who are matched well based on similarity tend to have happier relationships compared to those who are mismatched based on social desirability

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Formation:Reward/Need Satisfaction Theory

 (Byrne and Clore)

 Stimuli can be seen as rewarding or punishing, and we aim to seek rewarding stimuli and avoid the punishing stimuli... The sort of things we find rewarding tend to reflect our unmet needs; mutual attraction may occur when each person meets the other person’s needs. These can be financial, sexual, or perhaps even a deeper friendship forming through comfort and the ability to be caring... If our needs are met, we are positively reinforced as our partner is offering pleasant stimuli (operant conditioning)...This direct reinforcement can be seen through the example of one person craving love whilst the other looks for financial security.

·         Classical conditioning: attraction through association

As well as liking someone with whom we share a pleasant experience with, we also like people who can be associated with pleasant circumstances... If someone was in a good mood and they met another individual, they may associate such other individual with the positive mood, consequently finding them more attractive because of the association

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Maintenance: Social Exchange Theory

Social Exchange Theory (Thibaut and Kelley, 1959)

·         Economic theory

Relationships are about weighing up the profits and losses. All social behaviour is a series of exchanges where we attempt to maximise our profits and minimise our costs. We commit to the relationship if the outcome is profitable

·         Comparison level = a standard against which all our relationships are judged

The comparison level for alternatives involves comparing our current relationship with an alternative one and if the alternative relationship is more beneficial/profitable, we will end our current relationship and start a new one. Alternatively, if our current relationship is more profitable we’ll stay with our current partner

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Maintenance: Equity Theory: Walster

·         Extending on the social exchange theory

·         People strive to achieve fairness in their relationship, but feel distressed if they perceive unfairness

Those who give a great deal in a relationship and receive little in return (and vice versa) would perceive inequity – dissatisfaction is created, causing distress

·         Ratio of inputs to outputs

Can give different amounts and relationship can still be equitable – what is considered ‘fair’ in a relationship is subjective

A person’s perceived ratio of inputs to outputs is a subjective assessment of the relative inputs of each partner relative to the outcomes for that partner. An equitable relationship should therefore be one where a partners benefits minus their costs equals their partner’s benefits less their costs.

If we perceive inequity in our relationship, we are motivated to restore it

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Breakdown: Reasons for Relationship Breakdown

Reasons for Relationship Breakdown (Duck, 1999)

·         Lack of skills

Includes interpersonal skills – social skills may be poor and thus seem uninteresting if are not good at keeping a conversation going

·         Lack of stimulation

Boredom or belief that the relationship isn’t going anywhere (Baxter, 1994) is often quoted when breaking off a relationship. People expect relationships to change and develop and if they don’t, they may not feel stimulated and feel justified in ending it and beginning a new one

·         Maintenance difficulties

If unable to see your partner often (long distance) may cause a strain on the relationship and inevitably break down

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Breakdown: A Model of Breakdown (Rollie and Duck)

There are 6 stages of breakdown in this model, they are:

1.    Breakdownà dissatisfaction with relationship

2.    Intrapsychic processesà social withdrawal; resentment on partners faults; re-evaluation of alternatives in relationship

3.    Dyadic processesà act with uncertainty, anxiety and hostility towards partner. Talk about dissatisfaction in relationship

4.    Social processesà going public and seek support from friends and family. Outside forces create cohesion

5.    Grave dressingà tidying up memories and strategically reinterpret their view of the partner i.e. their rebellious nature may have once been attractive but is now cast as irresponsible

6.    Resurrectionà preparation for future relationships; redefine oneself by building on past mistakes and experiences

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Sexual Selection (Darwin)

Intrasexual selection (mate competition) – usually men: Members of one sex compete with each other for members of the other sex. The victors are able to mate & pass on their genes. As a consequence, men for example have evolved indicators such as strong jaw lines, high cheekbones, wide shoulders etc as these are signs of strength which women seek

·         Intersexual selection (mate choice) – usually women: This form of selection involves the preferences of one sex for members of the opposite sex who possess qualities that'll provide good genes for offspring & have the ability to protect them & their child, provide status & resources


Short term mating preferences: Males may be more likely to be promiscuous because the more females they impregnate the more chances of reproductive success they have. Females are less likely to be promiscuous as they have a higher risk of poor offspring if they behave promiscuously & are less likely to be supported

·         Long term mating preferences: Both sexes invest heavily long term so they’ll both be choosy when deciding potential partners. Women would be interested in men who are able to provide & protect them and their children; men would look for women who show signs of fertility

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Sex Differences in Parental Investment (Trivers)

·         Any investment by a parent in an offspring that increases the chance that the offspring will survive at the expense of that parent’s ability to invest in any other offspring

·         Maternal investment: Female can produce only limited number of offspring. More costly for females to have offspring as they can only produce offspring once every 9 months. Female invest most, so they are more selective of their offspring because they have more to lose. Females also invest more into the rearing of offspring where the baby spends 9 months in the womb and is then dependent on mother’s milk for around 2 years. Women tend to be extremely concerned about the emotional focus of a male as they may feel they are at risk of losing resources to another female

·         Paternal investment: Males invest less than females, so instead they compete with other males for reproductive opportunities. A lot of investment is in the courting stages for men because of this. However, there is difficulty for males in determining whether a child is their own, with there being a risk of cuckoldry, where they could potentially raise children that aren’t their own. Men are more concerned about the female having sex with other males than for that female to be emotionally involved with another male

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Early Experiences: Childhood

 Parent-child relationshipsShaver et al (1988) outlined three systems that are acquired during infancy which are related to adult relationships: (1) Attachment system: related to Bowlby’s internal working model – aspects of an early attachment style continue to affect the later relationships during adulthood as your first one acts as a template for future ones. This means they have expectations and thus have similar attachments to the one they had with their caregiver. (2) Caregiving system: knowledge about how to care for others, learned by modelling the behaviour of the primary attachment figure/caregiver. (3) Sexuality system: early attachment types affects/relates to their future behaviour, where for example an avoidant relationship may result in them finding it pleasurable to have sex without the involvement of love

·         Interaction with peers: Qualter and Munn (2005) have shown that children also learn from experiences with other children that become internalised. They then develop a sense of own value and how they think about others as a result of interactions with others, which in turn determines how they approach adult relationships. Nagle et al (2003) say that children’s friendships are training grounds for future relationships as they’re characterised by affection, trust, alliance and intimacy. These experiences/social skills are useful and important in later romantic relationships

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Early Experiences: Adolescence

Critical period in development, marked by the increased importance of close friendships and the emergence of romantic relationships. During adolescence, close friends surpass parents as the primary source of social support

·          Parent-child relationshipsAllen and Land (1999) suggest that adolescent relationships are based on an internal mode of relationships formed on from their own parent-child relationship plus their experiences in current relationships.

The use of formal operational thinking allows adolescents to view their attachment relationships more objectively, comparing relationships with parents to hypothetical ideas. This comparison allows individuals to come to conclusions about what needs are/are not being met when it comes to relationships

·         Interaction with peers

Attachments tend to shift from parents to peers. Relationships at this age help achieve the goal of separation from parents and thus having shifted their attachment focus, intense interpersonal energy can be redirected towards romantic partner. They also allow adolescents gain a type of emotional and physical intimacy that’s quite different from what has been experienced w/ parents

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Western and Non-Western Relationships

 Voluntary or non-voluntary relationships: W cultures tend to have predominantly urban settings, with relatively easy geographical & social mobility, thus voluntary interact w/ large no.'s of people & therefore appear to be characterised by a high degree of choice in personal relationships as there’s a greater pool of potential relationships (voluntary). NW cultures have fewer large urban centres, &less geographical & social mobility, & people thushave less choice about whom they interact w/ on a daily basis. Interactions with strangers are rare &thus relationships are frequently tied to other factors, such as family or economic resources (non-voluntary). Individualist or collectivist cultures: W cultures place great importance on the rights & freedoms of the individual and are seen as individualistic, as they focus on the individual making their own choices. NW cultures: the group tends to be the main unit of concern and thus are known as collectivist cultures. Individuals are encouraged to be interdependent & rely on one another rather than think of your own needs. Relationship choice is greatly shaped through the family, group or community (Moghaddam et al). Parents play a significant role in who their children should marry and such unions are generally a joining of communities and extended families. Continuity and discontinuity: W: Hsu  à American culture emphasizes progress with change seen as inevitable and progress. Things that are old fashioned are viewed with disdain. They emphasise change and discontinuity and thus tend to have more temporary relationships. NW: Hsu à described the Chinese regard for heritage and ancestry, and change is viewed with suspicion. They tend to emphasise on continuity and therefore are likely to be dominated by permanent relationships.

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