The Formation of Relationships - Essay Plan

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  • Created by: ml4689
  • Created on: 05-06-16 15:03

Discuss one or more theories of the formation of relationships

It is debated whether we form a relationship using cognitive factors (Social Exchange Theory, SET, Thibaut and Kelly) or behavioural factors (Reward and Need for Satisfaction Model, RN, Byrne and Clore).

Reward and Need for Satisfaction model

Arguing for the role of behavioural factors, according to the RN we form a relationship with someone who is likely to fulfil our needs and provide us with satisfaction either directly through operant conditioning (skinner), whereby the person is rewarding in themselves (eg, good sense of humour); or indirectly through classical conditioning, where we associate the person with the pleasurable events that we do with them (eg, going to the cinema). We are unlikely to form a relationship with someone who we find punishing.


Suggesting the importance of behavioural factors, weak evidence comes from…

·         May + Hamilton – Found that females rated the attractiveness of males in photographs higher if they were listening to pleasant music than if they were listening to unpleasant music. This is evidence for indirect positive reinforcement, because the females associated the music with the attractiveness of the males.

Further limited evidence comes from…

·         Griffit + Guay – Found that participants rated an experimenter more positively if the experimenter praised them after the task. This is evidence for direct positive reinforcement and that the RN plays role in liking


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