The formation of romantic relationships

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  • Created by: Ellie
  • Created on: 13-02-14 11:37

The formation of romantic relationships 

Reward/need satisfaction theory (Byrne and Clore 1970)

  • Most stimuli in our lives can be viewed as being rewarding or punishing and are motivated to seek rewarding stimuli and avoid punishing stimuli
  • Things we find rewarding tend to reflect our unmet needs (e.g need for company, financial security, an attractive partner…)
  • Mutual attraction occurs when each partner meets the other persons needs

Rewards and punishments

  • Rewarding stimuli produce positive feelings in us (eg make us happy) and punishing stimuli produce negative feelings
  • Operant conditioning - we are likely to replete any behaviour that leads to a desirable outcome and avoid behaviours that lead to an undesirable outcome
  • Byrne and Clore - the presence of some individuals us directly associated with reinforcement which makes them more attractive to us

Attraction through association

  • We also like people who are associated with pleasant events
  • If we meet some one when we are in a happy mood we are much more likely to like them
  • A previously neutral stimulus can become positively valued because elf their association with a pleasant event (classical conditioning)


Research support

Evidence for the importance of report 

  • We like some individuals because they provide direct reinforcement
  • Griffitt and Guay (1969) - PP were evaluated on a creative task by an experimenter and then asked to rate how much they liked the experimenter. Rating was the highest when the experimenter has positively evaluated the PP performance on the task

Evidence for need satisfaction through Facebook use

  • Sheldon et al (2011) - discovered that greater Facebook use was positively correlated with both positive feelings and negative indicators of relationship satisfaction. Relationally ‘connected’ people tend to be those whose sociability motivates their Facebook use and satisfies their relational needs to reach out to others. ‘Disconnected’ people may lack need satisfaction through face-to-face relationships, so are likely to use Facebook as a coping strategy

Physiological support 

  • Aron et al (2005) - found PP who measured very


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