A2 - Psychology - Understudied Relationships

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  • Created by: jkav
  • Created on: 30-12-15 21:59

Understudied Relationships

Research relating to same-sex relationships


There is mixed support for similarity in same-sex couples, Kurdek's early study (Kurdek and Schmit, 1987) found that there was very little similarity in gay couples, except for age. On the other hand, a later study by Kurdek (2003) found that partners within gay and lesbian couples were similiar in terms of age, education and income. This study involved 80 gay couples and 53 lesbian couples studied from 1986 to 2000.


In general there is an expectation that same-sex relationships have a shorter duration than hetrosexual ones. 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 hetrosexual cohabitees and 14% of married couples. Gottman et al (2003), however, found a similar rate of dissolution to hetrosexual couples, of 20% in a 12-year study of same-sex couples.

In the study by Blumstein and Schwartz gay relationships were less stable than lesbian or hetrosexual ones. We might expect this to be the case because men and women are socialised differently and men find sex without emotional commitment more acceptable than do women. However, a number of studies have found the reverse, Kurdek (2003) found that lesbian relationships were shorter than those of gay men and Gottman et al (2003) also found most dissolutions were between lesbians.

Relationship satisfaction

Kurdek and Schmitt found that gay and lesbian couples reported similar levels of love for each other, which was not true for hetrosexual couples. Gottman et al found that,as in hetrosexual relationships, gay and lesbian couples were more satisfied when the partners identified more benefits (e.g. companionship) and fewer costs (e.g. conflict).

Explanations of mediated relationships 

Most relationships include some 'mediated' communication, i.e. interaction that is not face to face (FtF), such as writing letters or more recent 'computer-mediated communication' (CMC) including text messages, instant messages, email and use of the internet such as chat rooms or social networking sites. CMC, it has been argued, is less 'complete' than FtF interaction - although Plato raised similar objections to writing taking place of speech!

Reduced cues theory

As CMC is text-based, it lacks pysical and social cues such as eye contact and the stress, tempo and volume of speech. The reduced cues theory of CMC (Culnan and Markus,1987) suggests that this makes CMC less effective than FtF interaction in the development of relationships. This would make sense, that factors such as facial expressions, physical attractivenessand abilities, such as conversational skills, are important in relationship formation and maintenance.

Culnan and Markus (1987) also suggest that having fewer cues leads to deindividuation (a lack of individual identity) that fosters anti-normative and uninhibited behaviours. As CMC may lack shared social norms, uisers may be more aggressive and impulsive in their communications. This, in addition to the difficulty of indicating emotions (because of reduced cues), makes CMC less effective to developing relationships than FtF interaction.

Social identity model of deindividuation effects (SIDE)


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