Romantic relationships theory

HideShow resource information

Getting relationships started.



Contact is essential in order for attraction to take place. Relationships are generally formed between people who live near each other. Bossard (19 32), found that more than half of 5,000 couples who applied to get marries in Philadelphia lived within a few minuets walk from each other. Festinger et al (19 50), compared the friendships formed by students in halls of residence and found that people were far more likely to be friends with those who lived on the same floor or corridor.

Physical appearance.

It is usually a combination of architectural factors and dynamic factors that make people attractive. What seems to be important in early attraction is that two people are of similar level of attractiveness. Murstein (19 72), called this the match hypothesis. He argued that even though we desirer a highly attractive person, it is unlikely that we get to keep them so we look for someone of a similar level of attractiveness. This makes it less likely to suffer rejection. Silverman (19 71), supported these findings by rating dating in bars. McKillip and Riedel (19 93), found that pairs of friends were also fairly closely matched in attractiveness.

Similarity of attitudes and social background.

Once people start talking, interests, hobbies and attitudes become important. Byrne (19 70s), researched the importance of similar attitudes in attraction. He proposed the law of attraction, sharing interests, attitudes and spending time together is easy and rewarding. However, differences in attitudes can lead us to dislike people (Singh and Ho, 2000). Similar social background (education, socio-economic class is also important. Kendel (19 78), found that teenage pairs of close friends had similar ethnic, religious and economic backgrounds. Hill, Rubin and Peplau (19 76), also found similarity of race, class, religion in dating couples and in pairs of friends.

The formation of relationships.

Filter model.

Kerckhoff and Davis (19 62), argues that relationships are developed thorough filters, the ‘field of availables’ are filtered through to narrow down the possibility of partners to a small ‘field of desirables’.

First filter.

: social/demographic variables, people mix with others who are similar to them, live in the same area, education, work. This narrows the field as there are few people who fit in their category.

Second filter.

: similarity of attitudes and values, people with the same attitudes and values will bond as it is easy to communicate with them.

Third filter.

: complementarity of emotional needs, once the couple has established a long term relationship, it is important for them to meet each others needs.

They tested their model:

Longitudinal study.

Student couples who had been together more or less than 18 months.

Questionnaire over several months on attitude similarity and personality traits with their partner.

Found that attitude similarity was important up to 18 months.

After 18 months psychological compatibility and meeting need became important.

Evidence has suggested that demographic factors and similarity of attitudes car important to the survival of the relationship. Sprecher (19 98…


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Relationships resources »