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Relationships - Psychology A2

Overview of the topic Relationships in A2 Psychology. (Information from revision notes and text books)

Sarah Jane

on 24 March 2014

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Transcript of Relationships - Psychology A2

Formation of Relationships...
There are two distinctive theories that try and explain why we enter into romantic relationships:
The Reward/Need Satisfaction Model
The Matching Hypothesis
The Reward/Need Satisfaction Model:

Bryne & Clore (1970) suggest that one of the reasons why we spend lot's of time in social relationships is that we find them REWARDING.

According to them, there are certain needs that are satisfied within a relationship:
Biological needs
Self - Esteem
Some relationships may reward us DIRECTLY (operant conditioning), and INDIRECTLY (classical conditioning) by meeting our psychological needs.
Operant Conditioning = Behaviour that is followed by desirable consequences is more likely to be repeated.
Behaviours such as -
kisses & hugs
balanced roles
Classical Conditioning = Learning an association between two events. A neutral stimulus that creates a conditioned response. (initially an unconditioned response.)
Argyle (1992) states that we are more likely to warm towards someone that displays non-verbal signs of positive reinforcement such as; smiling, smell, how they stand, confidence, postures, what they are wearing, contact, flirting & eye contact.
Our mood can be linked to how much we like someone. For example if in a good mood, we associate that person with our good mood, thus finding them more attractive.
Matching Hypothesis
Walster et al proposed two hypotheses as to how people are attracted to one another, these are:
Social Desirability - attractiveness, social position, intelligence.
Couples who are matched in terms of social desirability are more than likely to have long & happy relationships.
According to this theory, people are looking for a partner who will reciprocate their affection as well as being socially desirable.

This theory cannot be applied to all relationships. For example, online relationships cannot be physically rewarding as there is a screen in between them. Some relationships may be specific, for example some may just want a sexual relationship with no strings attached, or they may be friends with benefits, or some may not go into relationships because they are rewarding, and may have other reasons.
This theory is based on Western values, therefore cannot be applied to all cultures, for example religions such as Hinduism have forced marriages, these could be forcing young children to marry older men for wealth and fame, rather than out of love. This then disproves this theory, that not all relationships ARE rewarding. This is the same thing with middle - eastern relationships, the men tend to have as many women as they like, which then goes against the conventional relationship and shows that they don't find relationships rewarding if they need to be with multiple women.
Finally, there is Gender Difference. Women tend to be more attentive towards the needs of others rather than their personal needs. This could be due to the 'Tend & Befriend' instinct that women have. They tend to look after the children and their husband and don't have time to focus on their own personal needs. However, this may be rewarding for them in itself.
Evidence shows that people tend to more for phsyical attractiveness than the entire social desirability 'package'.
Some people can compensate for the lack of physical attractiveness, i.e. money, fame/status. (Hatfield & Sprecher 2009)
Men value attractiveness moreso than women, this explains why men are able to compensate for their lack of attractiveness.
Who we choose to date is influenced by a third party, for example parents & friends.
Another limitation is personal preference. Some people may choose to be with someone based on their personality, the way they talk, compose themselves and behave, rather than solely on physical attractiveness.
Human Reproductive Behaviour...
Evolutionary Psychologists say that the way we choose a potential mate is determined by innate behaviours which aid our survival.
Mate Choice:
We are naturally picky when it comes to choosing a potential mate. This is because we want the best combination of genes for our offspring, as well as passing on successful traits & characteristics for selection.

For main criteria for mate selection:
Disease resistance etc.
Selection can be determined by the giving of gifts. This is also true in the animal species where they would give gifts of food.
Mental Characteristics:

These characteristics are highly sort after within mate selection, especially the neophilic (novelty) traits in people such as music & literary talents, humour, artistic qualities etc.
Facial Preference:

the human face is the most important aspect when selecting a mate. Attractive faces are a sign for 'good genes' & something you would want for your offspring to enhance their future sexual selection success.
One key assumption of SST is that men are attracted to women who are fertile and healthy. Another key aspect is that women need to be 'in OESTRUS'. *See the lap dance study*
Men look for:
'Child' like characteristics such as large eyes, small nose & full lips.
Smooth skin, glossy hair, red lips, slim, child bearing waist.
Females look for:
Men with masculine, facial characteristics, such as large jaw, prominent cheek bones.
Athletic figure, this is synonymous with the ability to provide.
Women will enhance their phsyical appearance & therefore attractiveness as it is expected that men will seek it.
Men will advertise their wealth & status as it is expected that women will seek these qualities when choosing a mate.
Research Study 1: Cross Cultural Study...
The study was conducted to see if mate preference varied across 10, 000 people, 37 cultures, 6 continents.

This study supports the sexual selection theory as it's trying to see if the theory is universal and can be applied to all cultures.

Research shows that the theory is universal, and that most women look for men with ambition, intelligence, kindess & so on, and men look to women for fertility.
The main issue is cultural differences, many people act differently in different cultures, some don't allow choice - forced marriages.
Research Study 2:
Fake Relationships...
A study which looked at 300 students who wrote about their favourite celebrity, concluded that there is a link with low self esteem, & viewing a celebrity as very similar to their ideal self.
This goes against the sexual selection theory as it talks about people creating ideal relationships with people who they have never met, thus supports the Reward/Need Satisfaction model as it talks about gaining self-esteem, which is a form of rewarding.

An issue with this study is that it was only carried out on a particular age group, therefore the results are age biased, and the results can't be generalised.
Research Study 3: The Peacocks Tail.
Darwins idea of 'natural selection' was that animals should evovle to end up with the best physical & behavioural characteristics that increase survival.
This supports the evolutionary theory as it talks about the evolution of traits, rather than the choosing of mates. an issue with this theory is that many people who potentially don't have the characteristics which are as evolved/successful as others are often 'left out'.
This links with the Peacock. It has evolved to have the best attraction to be able to attract a mate (its tail) but because of this lacks the ability fight off predators, as animals can only have one of the other.
Research Study 4: The Lap Dancer Study
Miller et al. (2007) compared the earnings of lap dancers who were menstruating naturally with those who were taking the pill. During the non-fertile stage of their cycles, both sets of dancers were earning the same amount. But when the dancers who were menstruating normally, were at the fertile stage of their cycle, they earned more than the ones who were taking the pill.
This supports the Sexual Selection Theory as fertility and wealth are key aspects in this study, and supports the fact that men look for fertility & youth when selecting their mates.
There are a issues with this study, the first being that people have different opinions and needs. Some may want to pleasure themselves, while others may be looking for serious partners. This study is aimed at one sex. It doesn't show what women are looking for in men, and only supports the men's viewpoint. Finally, this study only applies to a certain type of men, more specifically the ones who go to lap dancers, therefore this study cannot be generalised and is a deterministic study.
What is 'Sexual Selection'?
Darwin states that competition between the same sex for mates affects the evolution of certain traits and characteristics. These will then enable individuals to have characteristics that will ensure Sexual success against rivals in competition.
Natural Selection vs. Sexual Selection
According to Darwin (1871) the nature of sexual selection is to be successful in attracting a mate which in turn enhances the success of natural selection. when the Sexual Selection interferes with the Natural Selection traits it causes a limitation in survival. For example, the peacock has a large plume of feathers which are colourful to attract mates. However these feathers can also attract predators, and affects it's ability to fly.

Darwin theorised that the survival of the fittest is in part the ability to reproduce so in this sense, the peacocks plumage is more about the survival of the most attractive.

This theory can also be applied to humans in the case of the 'hour-glass' figure which has been found to be the most attractive to men across many different cultures. This would make sense as curvy women are synchronous to fertility & health.

Maintenance of Relationships..
Murstein (1972) says that our inital attraction to one another stems from 'Social Desirability'. Not only do we rate the attractiveness of others, but we rate the attractiveness of ourselves.
Psychologists argue that physical attractiveness is less complex than matching. Many people are able to compensate for their lack of physical attractiveness, they are typically men, with other 'Social Desirables' such as wealth & status.
This then supports the argument that men are able to compensate for their lack of physical attractiveness a lot more easily than women. it is also valued more by men, than women.
Our mating choices are influenced often often by third parties such as friends, families, internet dating websites, or arranged marriages.
However, the maintenance of romantic relationships depends on 2 theories:
Social Exchange Theory - Thibaut & Kelley (1959)
Investment Model - Rusbult (1983)
These are generally referred to as 'economic theories' as they look at social relationships using a monetary analogy such as cost/benefit comparisons.
Social Exchange Theory...
Social behaviour is looked at as a series of exchanges where people want to increase rewards, and decrease the costs. The exhange side of the theory states that those who are rewarded are expected to reciprocate that reward.
Thibaut & Kelley's four stage model of long-term relationships.:
This explores the rewards & costs within other relationships.
Couples identify sources of profit or loss.
Settled couples have a routine which becomes predictable.
Interactions are established and the couple settle down.
Thibaut & Kelley also found that we base our current relationship and the expectations of that relationship on the rewards and costs of other relationships. This is referred to as:
Comparison Level
We also compare our relationship with those we could have, this is known as:
Comparison Level for
However, Walster (1978) claimed that striving for fairness is more important than increasing costs and profits. He also states that people who contribute to a relationship and gets nothing in return, they would think that unfair, thus feeling 'inequity'. This would then cause distress within the relationship. This is known as the Equity Theory.
Evaluation of the Social Exchange Theory...
This approach lacks ecological validity, it can't be generalised. Relationships are different and not all offer rewards and balanced roles, it can't be applied to most non-western cultures/relationships.
Lacks empirical evidence, there aren't enough studies which support this theory or falsify this theory.
Finally there are gender differences, Men & women value different things within a relationship.
Equity Theory...
This theory assumes that those who are in romantic relationships strive for fairness. It is the inequity that causes distress within a relationship.
This theory differs from the Social Exchange theory in so much that people are striving for maximum costs and minimal costs.

Those who contribute to a relationship and get nothing in return would think the relationship to be inequitable resulting in dissatiisfaction for both parties.
Lacks ecological validity in so much that it assumes that people are only happy when the relationship is fair,

Clark & Mills (1979) found that there are 2 types of couple; 'Communal' & 'Exchange'. 'Communal' couples are relaxed on how equity is acheived within the relationship, the 'Exchange' couple are the ones that are fixated on equity within the relationship.
Men & women value relationships differently; men are more likely to focus on EQUITY whereas women are more likely to focus on EQUALITY. If the relationship is deemed inequitable women are more likely to have an affair.
Investment Theory - Rusbult (1983)
Investment theory is the idea that commitment is linked to the liklihood that a relationship will last. Rusbult (1983) identified that levels of commitment are affected by three factors; Satisfaction, Quality of Alternatives & Investment,
Quality of
Satisfaction is the outcome of a relationship, they are compared to what we expect from a relationship, (comparison level)

If the outcomes exceed the comparison level, the relationship is deemed satisfying, on the other hand, if the outcomes are less than the comparison level, the relationship is not satisfying.
If an individual realises that there is an alternative who is more attractive than their current partner, they will then start to distant themselves from their current relationship. If no such alternative exists, they will continue to persist with their current relationships. No relationship is also an attractive alternative.
The level of investment relates to the amount contributed to the stability of a relationship. Investment is anything that a person puts in a relationship that can be lost if it breaks down.
Evaluation of the investment model:
The investment model has been supported by numourus studies. A meta-analysis by Le & Agnew highlighted it's relevence to ethnic groups, and both homo & hetrosexual relationships. However the three components which make up this theory differed within different groups.
This theory can also be applied to abusive relationships. Rusbult & Martz asked women who were living in abusive relationships why they stayed instead of leaving as soon as the abuse started, as predicted by the model, the women felt that the commitment within their relationship was greatest when their economic alternatives were poor and when their investment was great.
Parental Investment
Influence of childhood experiences on adult relationships
Influences on adolescent experiences on adult relationships
Cultural influences on relationships
Trivers (1972) found that 'an investment by the parent in an individual offspring that increases it's chance of survival at the cost of the ability to invest in other offspring.'
Females level of investment is greater than a males as their eggs are only available at certain times of the month, whereas with men, they are able to reproduce at anytime as the amount of sperm is far greater and occurs more often. Females have a limited amount of offspring, men have an unlimited amount of offspring.
Maternal Investment:
Females will invest more time & effort into rearing children than men as they know that they are the child's mother, whereas the men cannot be sure.
Paternal Investment:
Males can 'opt out' of parental investment in a way that females can't. Males expend a lot of energy in courtship and mating rituals so can afford to 'step back' from parenting.
This is why men are 'sexually' jealous, this is a coping method to prevent cuckoldy.

Women are 'emotionally' jealous, as they try to protect themselves from having their man shift their resources to someone else.
'Cuckoldy' -
The idea that men are vulnerable to use up their 'resources' to someone else.
Because women have high levels of parental investment, they channel all their resources into nurturing their offspring.

Men on the other hand having little parental offspring, focus their efforts into reproducing many offspring to ensure reproductive success.
Evaluation of parental investment
Men do help out - a way in which females can reduce the burden of maternal care is by forming bonds with the male partners which are long lasting. This shows that they are prepared to help provide for the offspring. Therefore it's in the interest of the male to show their skills as carers to the females.
Willing fathers - Men are more likely to share resources with children they know who are theirs, then those who they do not know or who don't share a blood relation.
Sexual Jealousy - Research from Buss showed that male students showed more distress when asked to imagine sexual infidelity of their partner, whereas females showed more concern with emotional infidelity. Although this supports the parental investment predictions of male & female concerns. Harris (2003) questions whether these gender differences are an adaptive response, she has discovered that men respond with greater arousal to any sexual imagery, regardless of it's context. This suggests that such gender differences are more likely to be a product of social learning than of evolutionary history,

What about step children? According to Anderson et al. (1999) despite knowing that a child is not his, a male may invest in a stepchild, to ensure a possibility of further offspring from the mother of the child by showing he is a good partner.
This refers to Bowlby and his theory of attachment. Individuals develop an internal working model of the self in relation to the primary attachment of figure which is usually the mother.

Based on childhood experience, the internal working model of attachment contains information about how a person expects a partner to behave in terms of reliability, availability & emotional expectations. Early childhood experiences also dictate how dissappointment and emotional discomfort are handled as early attachment styles are reflected in adult relationships.

Hazan & Shaver (1987) produced a 'love quiz' to assess the link between attachment theory & successful intimate relationships. The questions were based on early & current experiences. They found that those who were securely attached as a child who were securely attached as a child tended to have longer & happier relationships than those who were insecurely attached as they found adult relationships difficult and felt that true love was rare.
Feeney et al. (1994) found that security of attacment transformed to a greater level of interpersonal interaction and relationship satisfaction. He aslo concluded that anxiety which is caused by attachment issues is the leading cause of destructive behaviour within a relationship, the less satisfactied you are.
The emphasis is on the individual, his/her goals, aspirations etc. Performance & acheivement which is individual is praised, reliance on others is not socially desirable. People strive for autonomy, with greater focus on the 'I' than on the 'we' in romantic relationships. If there is conflict between goals of individual and goals of the collective, personal needs are considered to be more important.
Collectivist cultures (such as Pakistan & China) have more emphasis on the 'we' more than the 'I' in social encounters. Ties & responsibilities to collective groups such as family or community are regarded as more important than the desires of particular indiviiduals. Members of this cuture are encouraged to be interdependent rather than independent in their dealings with others.
Adolescents are aware of other relationships in terms of differences & similarities as apposed to children who typically view their own parent-child relationship. Secure adolescent-parent relationships allow people to have the confidence to explore relationships outside the family i.e. with other adolescents.
Adolescents will observe levels of intimacy from parents by observing how they relate to one another,
Adolescent Relationships - Parents...
Social Learning Theory...
Post-Divorce relationships...
Mother-Daughter relationships
Allegiances will form between the mother and daughter usually through negativity towards the father. Daughter may become parentified as they become emotional carers for their mother which impacts on their attitudes towards men & relationships.
Father-Son relationships...
Post-Divorce father-son relationships in adolescent boys have been linked with the strength of future adult relationships. the better the relationship, the more satisfying adult relationships are. Sons too are socialised by their fathers in terms of negativity towards women and the value of relationships.
Breakdown of Relationships...
Rosie & Duck's Model of Relationship Breakdown...
Rollie & Duck (2006) devised a process of relationship breakdown denoting 'phases' that people go through when breaking up with someone. Each phase has different purposes with consequences.
1. Breakdown:
'I can't take this anymore'

2. Intrapsychic Processes:
It's for the best'
3. Dyadic Processes:
I mean it'
4. Social Processes:
You can do so much better'
5. Grave-Dressing Processes:
Time to move on'
6. Resurrection Processes:
Things will be different'
One partner becomes dissatisfied with the relationship to the point that progress is made towards the next level.
Focusing on the faults of the partner & how little satisfaction is gained from the relationship. Depression causes withdrawal from social interaction.
Dyadic Processes:
Partners talk about inequity within the relationship. If issues are talked about constructively the relationship can be saved, if the issues are talked about destructively the relationship cannot be saved. Reasons for staying or leaving will be discussed. Promises of change/aggreements could be aired.
Social Processes:
Breakup is made public. Advice & support is sought from family and friends. Alliances are formed, process also includes scapegoating and talking about other partner.
As a relationship dies, we must create an account of how it came to be, what it was like and how it ended. This is similar to grave stone descriptions. Post-relationship lives become organised, accounts of the breakup which are publicised begin to circulate. 'Stories' about what happened vary to benefit different audiences.
Resurrection Processes:
Final process, it addresses the need to move on. People recreate a sense of self worth and define what they need from the next relationship and in turn what needs to be avoided.
Evaluation of Rollie & Duck:
Gender differences
Evolutionary explanations of relationship breakup
Cost related to investment: women like men who have resources. Assumes that men are willing to share.
Increasing commitment: women value emotional commitment highly, men use this to their advantage.
Infidelity: access to females outside the relationship, keeps options open.
Reputational damage: damaging someones reputation will reduce their chances of finding another mate.
Role of the 'instigator'
Hetrosexual bias
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