Relationships Overview A2

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  • Created by: ew12342
  • Created on: 13-12-15 17:17


Reward/need satisfaction theory – Byrne and Clore (formation)

  • Attracted to people we find satisfying to be with

  • Motivated to seek rewarding stimulus and avoid punishing

  • Things we find rewarding reflect our needs

  • Uses operant conditioning

  • If positive feelings outweigh negative, the relationship is more likely to succeed


  • Griffit and Guay – participants evaluated on creative task by experiment.

    • asked to rate attractiveness of experimenter

    • Those evaluated positively gave higher rating of attractiveness.

  • Aron et al – those who measure highly on questionnaire of romantic love show greater activity in part of brain

  • Cate et al – reward level is most significant factor in satisfaction


Similarity – Byrne, Clore and Smeaton (formation)

  • Similarity promotes liking

  • Avoid those whose personality latitudes are too dissimilar

  • Caspi and Herbener – married couples with similar personalities seem to be happier than those with dissimilar personalities.

  • ‘attitude alignment’ often occurs – one partners attitudes change to fit with the other ones


  • Rosenbaum – dissimilarity is more important in determining whether a relationship will develop.

  • Dissimilarity / repulsion hypothesis – tested by Singh + Tan in Singapore and Drigatois in USA. First attracted due to similarity but as they found more dissimilarity they became less attracted.

  • Yoshida – personality and attitudes only shows a narrow view of factors important in relationship formation.


Social Exchange Theory – Thibaut and Kelley (maintenance)

  • Individuals attempt to maximise reward and minimise cost

  • Rewards minus costs equal profit or loss

  • Comparison level (CL) – compare our relationship to previous ones and our general views on relationships

  • Comparison level for alternatives (AltCL) – weighs up increase in rewards of starting new relationship minus cost of ending current relationship


  • Martz – battered women – high investment and low alternatives so may be considered a profit situation

  • Duck + Saints – focuses too much on an individual’s perspective and ignores social factors

  • Selfish nature of the theory


Equity Theory – Walster et al (maintenance)

  • People want to achieve fairness and feel dissatisfied if they don’t

  • People who give a lot but get little back perceive inequity

  • The greater the inequity, the greater the distress

  • Stafford and Canary – 200 married couples – measures of equity and satisfaction – satisfaction highest for those who perceived equity and lowest for those perceiving under-benefit

  • What is considered fair is down to the individual – dependent on their ratio of inputs and outputs

  • if we perceive inequity we are motivated to restore it


  • Ragsdale & Brandau-Brown – reject claim equity is key determiner of relationship satisfaction – ‘an incomplete rendering of way in which married people behave with respect to each other’

Economic theories evaluation

  • Clark + Mills – exchange relationships (colleagues etc) involve keeping track of rewards and costs but communal relationships (friends etc) more concerned about meeting needs

  • DeMaris – 1500 married couples – only index associated with breakdown was women sense of under benefit

  • Culture bias – only apply to western culture


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