Formation of Relationships
Reward/need satisfaction theory
States we form friendships and relationships to recieve rewards or reinforcements from others. Relationships provide rewards that satisfy our social needs. Byrne and Clore's (1970) suggest that both operant and classical conditioning play a part in relationships. The theory states that we learn to associate people with positive or enjoyable situations, even though they are not directly rewarding us in these instances.
We are attracted to people with a similar social desirability. Caviour and Boblett (1972) found a strong match between committed couples than for less committed couples.
Evaluation of Formation
Reward/need satisfaction theory
1. Giving and recieving reward are both important
2. Many relationships are not reinforcing. eg Kinship bonds
3. Gender differences may be due to socialisation. For example women are more attentive to the needs of others, this could be reinforcing for themselves however.
1. Complex matching, not just physical attractiveness is taken into account.
2. Men value physical attractiveness higher than women, so an ugly man is not as much a detrimental trait than an ugly woman.
Maintenance of Relationships
Social Exchange theory- People try to maximise rewards from a relationship and minimise costs. If the relationship is to continue, then rewards must not outweigh the costs. But if we are striving to get more and give less this may result in an unequal relationship.Hatfield et al (1979) found that the partner who gives the most was the least satisfied then the over benefitted were next and finally those in an equal relationship were most satisfied. Men who were over benefitted were almost as satisfied as those in equal relationships whereas over benefitted women were much less satisfied than those in equal relationships.
Equity theory- People expect relationships to be fair and eqaul. They want to recieve rewards from relationships that are in balance with the rewards they provide for the other person. If a relationship is unequal or unfair then it produces discomfort and distress in both partners.
Investment theory- Commitment is strenghtened by satisfaction. If an individual percieves an attractive alternative they may be led away from the current relationship if no alternative presents itself, an individual may persist with the relationship. Anything a person puts into the relationship that will be lost if they leave it, may dictate whether the person stays.
Evaluation of Maintenance
Social exchange theory & equity theory - 1. Many of the studies associated have been characterised by rather contrived methodolgies, which have little ecological validity. There has also been limited application of the theory.
2. Lack of consistent empirical support, Clark and Mills (1979) identified 2 different types of couples; communal and exchange. People in communal couples do have some concerns over equity but they are more relaxed over what it compromises, only in exchange couples is there a kind of score keeping predicted by the equity and social exchange theory.
3. Men did not desire to have an affair in an unequal relationship, whereas women were more likely to have an extra marital affair and more reported they already had done so.
Investment theory - 1. Research support a meta analysis by Le and Agnew (2003) highlighted its relevance for participants from different ethnic groups and both homo and heterosexual relationships. The importance of the three components differed for different participant groups.
2. Commitment in abusive relationships Rusbult and Martz (1995) asked women in a womens refuge why the stayed with abusive partners and as predicted by the model, women felt the greatest commitment to their relationship when their alternatives were poor and when their investment was great.
Breakdown of Relationships; Rollie & Duck 6 Stage
1. Breakdown "I can't stand this anymore" One partner becomes increasingly dissatisfied with the relationship. If its sufficient there is a progression to the next stage. 2. Intrapsychic "I'd be justified in leaving" Characterised by social withdrawal and resentment, with the dissatisfied partner focusing on their partners faults and a sense of being underbenefitted. The result of these processes may cause them to re-evaluate the relationship and consider possible alternatives. 3. Dyadic "I mean it" These occur when partners begin talking to each other about the problems or percieved inequities that at least one of them is unhappy with. This may result in reconciliation, The ability to talk in a constructive manner rather than deconstructive manner is critical if the relationship is to be saved. This process may bring up reasons to stay or go. 4. Social "Its now inevitable" The break up is made public advice and support are sought from people outside the relationship and alliances created. It is also where social implications are negotiated and break up becomes increasingly inevitable. 5. Grave dressing "Time to get a new life" Ex- Partners begin to organise their post - relationship lives and begin to publicise their own accounts of the breakdown. 6. Resurrection "What i learned and how things will be different" Each partner prepares themselves for relationships afterwards.
This theory doesn't take into account individual differences and research suggests that these models over simplify a breakdown. Rusbult and Zembrodt (1983) some people actively lead the breakdown process while others are passive. Akert (1992) People who do the breaking up are less likely to be upset and show physical symptoms.
Breakdown of Relationships; Evolutionary Psycholog
Cost related to emotional investment Women prefer mates with resources or the potential to acquire resources (Buss 1989) However, this assumes that men are willing to share their resources with their female partners. Willingness to share can be gauged by the level of emotional commitment by the man towards the woman.
Increasing commitment since women value emotional commitment so highly in their mates, males threatened with the breakdown of a romantic relationship may employ strategies to exploit this fact. E.g suggesting marriage, cohabitation and having children.
Infidelity, males have evolved a desire for sexual variety infidelity can therefore serve this desire by obtaining sexual access to females outside the relationship. It can also be used as a tactic to end the relationship and may help the rejector to find a replacement mate quickly following an anticipated break up.
Reputational damage those responsible for ending a relationship may be percieved as cruel and heartless by their peers, whereas the rejectee tends to be percieved as the victim. Any damage to their reputation may adversely affect the chances of the rejector obtaining a long term mate in the future. As a result rejectors may be motivated to reduce consequent reputational damage by behaving sympathetically towards their partner during the break up.
The evolution of characterstics which are attractive to potential mates is known as sexual selection.
2 types of sexual selection 1. Intrasexual- males compete and the winner is rewarded the female. The female is passive in this process she doesn't choose her own mate. 2. Intersexual- takes place when males compete for attention of a female. The females is active in this process and chooses her own mate.
Buss (1989) Cross cultural research into intersexual selection. questionnaires use to collect data from over 10,000 men and women from 37 different cultures. Women valued variables associated with gaining resources more highly than men. Men valued variables associated with reproductive capactiy more highly than women. Concluded that women have evolved to select mates that can provide for resources required and men have evolved to attract women with a high likelihood of repoductivity.The study supports an evolutionary explanation of gender differences in sexual selection. Similar findings were found across a range of different cultures. However it wasn't truly representative as it was hard to include rural less educated populations. The study also didn't take social influence on mate selection into account. For example changes in society mean many women are able to provide for themselves and their offspring. Also homosexual relationships aren't explained as reproduction is not a goal in same sex partnerships.
An investment in one offspring at the expense of other offspring. In humans parental investment is more demanding as children do not become independant for years. Men only need to be involved at conception whilst women also have to invest during pregnancy. When the offspring is born women have to invest in breast-feeding. Men provide protection, shelter and other resources whilst women invest in the day to day care of the child.
The number of children women can have is limited so they're likely to invest heavily in the survival of each child. Men can have many more children so investment in each individual is less important. Trivers (1972) suggested that females will discriminate when choosing a mate and the male will compete more for the higher investing mates. Males invest relatively little as the child may not be theres (cuckoldry)
However males do help with children nowadays,as there are stay at home dads etc. Sexual jealousy occurs in males, emotional in female.
Parent - Offspring Conflict
Seems logical that parents should produce lots of offspring. However spending time nurturing children has costs.
- Pregnancy and Lactation make physical demands on the mother.
- Looking after and providing for young children is demanding.
- Multiple pregnancies and pregnancies in later life can have health implications for the mother.
Conflicts between needs of the parent and those of the children are known as parent offspring conflict, they suggest that a smaller number of children may be better for parental investment.
This is becoming more common as infant mortality rates decrease, and advances in birth control mean tha many people have access to contraception making it easier to control reproduction. This is one example as how reproductive behaviour has changed over time as societies change.
However there is a lack of evidence among human groups.
Influence of Childhood experiences
Childhood- Hazen & Shaver (1987) attachment and adult relationships
Secure attachment type more likely to have secure adult relationship
Anxious avoidant type more likely to have difficulty trusting people.
Anxious resistant type more likely to feel anxious in adult relationships and find it hard to get others as close to them as they wanted.
People who experienced parental divorce during childhood have more negative attitudes towards relationships.Silvestri (1991) found that having divorced parents significantly increased chances of getting divorced. Interaction with peers helps children learn about themselves. Importance of friendships as it learns trust and acceptance in adult relationships.
Adolescence- Parents act as models for intimate relationships, friendships allow the individual to develop skills for succesfull adult relationships, these include how to resolve conflicts and how to take on different roles in a relationship. Peer relations are more significant during this stage of life. They are also important in healthy identity development.
Relationships in different cultures
Collectivist cultures see the individual as part of an interdependant social group. Obligations to the good of the group and to others are important. Relationships are more likely to be non voluntary, where marriage joins families and individuals. Extended familes are likely to live together, providing support for each other.
In western societies the emphasis is on the individuals freedom, achievements and rights. So relationships are formed for individual happiness and are mostly voluntary.
Non western cultures are more likely to have permanent relationships.
Arranged marriages have more stability than those based on romantic love, however De Munck (1996) found that in a Shri Lankan community with an emphasis on arranged marriages romantic love was still considered.Levine et al (1995) found that a higher percentage of people from collectivist societies would marry a person with the right qaulities whom they didn't love than members of individualistic societies.
Goodwin (1999) calculated the US divorce rate at around 40-50% collectivist divorce rate was considerably lower, for example in china a divorce is shameful to the families involved and therefore fewer marriages get divorced. This differnce could be due to urbanization not west vs east.