Psychology - Relationships

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  • Created by: Lou
  • Created on: 09-12-12 12:18

Formation, Maintenance and Breakdown.

Selfish reasons behind forming a relationship:

  • rewards/need satisfaction theory - states that we form friendship and relationship to receive rewards or reinforcement from others
  • relationships provide rewards (approval, sex, love, money, respect, agreement with out opinions, smiling, information) that satisfy our social needs (for self-esteem, affiliation, dependency, influence)
  • so, in terms of operant conditioning, being in a relationship is positively reinforced because it is rewarding
  • Byrne and Clore's (1970) Reinforcement-affect theory suggests 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 if they are not directly rewarding us in these instances. 

Economic theories consider relationships to be a trading process:

  • social exchange theory, (Thibaut and Kelley, 1959) suggests that people try to maximise rewards (attention, self-esteem, happiness) from a relationship and minimise costs (time, effort, emotional support)
  • if the relationship is to continue, then the rewards must not be outweighed by the costs, we should end up in profit


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