WJEC Psychology A2 Relationships

Essay plans for PY4 psychology relationships topic


Formation of Relationships

Intro: Attractiveness, Walster's blind date study (attractiveness main factor), Buss (important for males),

Sociobiological: Evolution- survival of the fittest. Attractiveness shows health, youth shows fertility. Langois et al- symmety of the face associated with good health. Little et al- UK and Hadza study, strong need for symmetry in Hadza. Age relavance- men prefer younger women (Buss). However, Howard et al argued that it was cultural- women gain status from successful men therefore they are older. Doesn't explain homosexuals or personality. People with genetic diseases and unsymmetrical faces still mate.

Matching Hypothesis: People of a similar attractiveness. Walster and Walster- meeting beforehand changed thinking and they went for those of a similar attractiveness. It is argued that attractiveness is only important at the beginning of a relationship, long term relationships may be based more on personality etc. Murstein and Christie reported married couples were more similar in attractiveness than those who were dating. Compensatory factors such as wealth or intelligence may make up for a lack of attractiveness.

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Dissolution of Relationships

Intro: Duck and Lee, relationship breakdown reasons

Duck's Theory: Predisposing factors- internal (personality, deception, boredom, jealousy, change in interests), external (financial, large number of sexual partners, different demographics, relocation, low socioeconomic status). Offers reasonable explanations to why some rels fail, however not all breakdown for these reasons and not all rels breakdown because of these. Self report gives difficulties with honesty, lacks cultural diversity, only correlational.

Duck's Phase model: Intra psychic phase (evaluating), dyadic (talking about it), social (going public), grave dressing (preparing stories for others). Gray and Silver provides evidence for grave dressing- both men and women protect their self esteem by providing own perceived version of events. Can explain how couples stay together. Not explanatory.

Lee's Stage model: Dissatisfaction (realise problems), Exposure (problems identified), Negotiation (discussion), Resolution attempts (solving), Termination (comes to an end). Based on premarital break ups, can't generalise to marriages. Also shows how can stay together. Not explanatory.

Conclusion: 6 or 7 stage model incorporating all would be more appropriate.

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Benefits on Wellbeing

Into: Important for our psychological and physical health (Argyle).

Buffering hypothesis: Social support is thought to have a positive impact on mental health. Cochrane- relationship status and admission to mental hospitals- divorced = 1.4%, married = 0.26%. Strong social relationships reduce the effect of stress. Argyle and Henderson- divorced or separated are much more likely to suffer from ill mental health or commit suicide. Brown and Harris- women with a supportive husband- risk of depression 10%, without- 41%. The majority of studies has confirmed this. However it can be argued that marriage is a source of stress. May be that those who suffer from mental illness can't develop relationships.

Happiness: Bradburn- married men and women reported being very happy and separated p's reported being not too happy. Marriage leads to higher happiness levels. However, marriage was the norm at this time (60s), also demand characteristics. Argyle and Furnham found that our relationship with our spouse is the most satisfactory. Divorce has become more socially acceptable- Bradburn's findings may show satisfaction of marriage was to do with negative perception of divorce. It is hard to say how honest people are; most would say they are happy but nearly half of marriages end in divorce.

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Understudied Relationships

Intro: Homosexual relationships are understudied because they are only recently socially acceptable. Internet relationships are relaively new and are therefore understudied.

Homosexual: Bee found that homosexual relationships are more similar than different to heterosexual relationships. Many think they are short lived however Peplau found 50% of gay men and 65% of lesbians were in a steady relationship at one time. Homosexual relationships are more likely to have additional sexual partners- Blumstein and Schwartz (22% wives, 30% husbands, 43% lesbians and 94% gay men). Cohabitation is less common in homosexual relationships due to troubles with society, however Harry found 50% gay men and 75% lesbians cohabited. Researching homosexual relationships is difficult due to discrimination and prejudice therefore representative samples are impossible. Much research was done over 10 years ago, society's attitudes have changed. Compares gay couples with straight married couples, which is not appropriate as non married couples stay together for less time anyway. Culture bias, self report.

Internet: Altered the way relationships are carried out. Paralanguage more important than words, miscommunication is an issue. Hultin found that like real world relationships, we seek out those who are similar to us. Culturally specific, changes in technology, restricted samples, ethical issues (some researchers act as avatars).

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Cultural Variations

Intro: Hofstede put forward individualistic and collectivist cultures. Collectivist base marriages on loyalty to the group, individualist focus on love and the individual. For example, collectivist cultures are more likely to have less but closer friends.

Voluntary and Involuntary: Shaver, Wu and Schwartz- in China, romantic love is associated with sorrow, pain and unfulfilled affection. Levine found a +0.56 correlation between idiviualism and importance of love. Harris found evidence of romantic love in 26/42 hunter gatherer societies, however only 6 gave individuals complete choice. Gupta and Singh found that love marriages and arranged marriages have the same amount of love after 10 years. Happiness may not mean the same thing between cultures.

Permanance: Simmel found divorce is higher in individualistic cultures, however divorce is less acceptable in these types of countries (Saudi Arabia if woman divorces man, man keeps house and children). Individual differences within cultures, attitudes change over time, samples taken represent whole culture (Buss).

Conclusion: We cannot define romantic love, doesn't mean the same in all cultures.

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