Relationship Formation - Reward/Need Theory

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  • Created by: Leah
  • Created on: 01-06-13 17:11

Theories of Formation:

The Reward/Need Theory

  • AKA Reinforcement or Need Satisfaction Model.
  • Sees conditioning as an explanation for the formation of romantic relationships.
  • We can be rewarded either directly or indirectly and are mostly unconsciously rewarded.
  • For a relationship to work, the partners must be sufficiently motivated to continue. A long-term relationship is mroe likely to be formed if both partners are satisfied and so having your needs met and being rewarded is an important part of the formation of relationships according to the model.
  • People enter into a relationship with a variety of needs, be them emotional, financial, sexual etc.
  • Relationships are formed when each person meets the others needs. If their needs are met then they feel rewarded and therefore are motivated to continue the relationship (operant conditioning). The couple then associate each other with these rewards and therefore like being with them (classical conditioning).
  • Besides meeting needs, partners can be rewarded in three main ways. These are:
    • An Exchange reward. Exchange rewards are common in the early stages of a relationship, where partners will only reward each other if they feel they are going to be rewarded back; rewards are not just given, they must be exchanged.
    • A Communal reward. Communal rewards are more common in the later stages of relationship, when the couple know each…


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