A2 Psychology - Romantic Relationship

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  • Created by: Yetunde
  • Created on: 05-11-11 13:39

Reward/Need Satisfaction Model


  • Direct Reinforcement - When an individual rewards us or meets certain needs such as pleasure or money, they make us feel positive, removing any negative or unpleasant feelings within us. We become attracted to them as they provide us with postive reinforcement.This is based upon Skinners operant conditioning principles that we learn to repeat a behaviour in order to gain reward.
  • Indirect Reinforcement - We may also see someone as attractive if they are associated with a pleasant or positive feeling.If we meet someone when we are in a good mood, we may associate the person with this feeling making them seem more attractive. This is based on the principles of classical conditioning (associative learning)


  • May and Hamilton -  2 groups of female students asked to rate pictures of guys whilst either pleasant or unpleasant music played. Compared to a control group (no music) and found that higher ratings were given when pleasant music played and lower when unpleasant music was played compared to the control group. Many similar findings in similar lab experiments 
  • Griffitt and Guy -Study supporting indirect reinforcement that showed that onlookers of an experiment in which the experimenter rated the participant highly were also rated highly, showing that because they had been associated with this uplifting feeling of being rated highly, they themselves had also acquired positive value
  • Most research comes from lab studies which do not reflect real life situations or environments. The studies lack mundane realism therefore produce flawed results
  • Gender Bias - the theory has a high element of beta bias as the differences between the two genders have been ignored. 
  • Cultural Bias - beta biased. The theory seems to have been derived from western cultures and cannot be applied to all cultures. Women from collectivist societies are more concerned in meeting the needs of others rather then being rewarded themselves.
  • Excludes the role of genetics or biology.

The Matching Hypothesis


  • It seems to be that couples are similar in terms psychical attractiveness. 
  • the more desirable a person is, the more desirable they expect their partner to be (in terms of social standing, intelligence etc)
  • Couples matched this way(equally) are more likely to have happy and long lasting relationships compared to couples unequally matched.
  • couples looking for a partner will consider both what they want (desirability of the potential match) and what they can get (probability of the other person saying yes)
  • Initial attraction towards one another depends on available indicators. Physical attractiveness becomes the biggest determinator because it is the most readily available que for assessment of attractiveness. The comparison is made between their own attractiveness and the potential other.

Research evidence

  • Walsters dance study - tested the matching hypothesis theory. 752 first year university students to a "blind-date" style dance and randomly matched. Success of the matches assessed using questionnaire (self report).Students reacted more positively to psychically attractive dates and tried to arrange further dates.
  • Real world - Stronger support using actual couples. Psychologist measured attractiveness ratings of each partner and found similar ratings for both
  • Strong matching effect among more committed partners(married or engaged) then less committed(casual daters)


  • doesn't take into account the role of the



this is really good and detailed

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