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Relationships (Formation, Maintenance and Breakdown)

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Megan Stone

on 20 December 2012

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Transcript of Relationships (Formation, Maintenance and Breakdown)

Relationships Maintenance
Of Relationships Breakdown
of Relationships Reasons For
Relationship Breakdown Lee's Stages in
Relationship Breakdown Rollie and Ducks
Model of
Relationship Breakdown Ratio of Inputs and Outputs Equity Theory Social
Exchange Theory The Filter Model An Alternative Explanation Reward-Need Satisfaction Model Formation of Relationships The Filter Model was proposed by Kerckhoff and Davis in 1962. In this model it is suggested that individuals rely on a number of social and personal factors to filter potential relationships from a 'field of eligibles'
We use a selection filter to narrow down the selection process. Bryne and Clore said that we form relationships because of the rewards we receive from others. They state that we like those who are associated with rewards and dislike those who are associated with pain (through classical conditioning)
Therefore we spend time in relationships because we find them rewarding. Aron et Al suggested that the brain reward system associated with romantic love most probably evolved to drive our ancestors to focus their courtship energy into one individual. It is even claimed that love at first sight evolved to speed up the mating process. Social Exchange theory is an economic theory that was proposed by Thibaut and Kelly in 1959. They based their theory on the assumption that all relationships are based on profit and loss and suggest that people try to maximize rewards and minimize costs.
If the relationship is to continue the rewards must outweigh the costs.
Social Exchange Theory stresses that commitment to a relationship is dependent on the profitability of this outcome. Equity Theory was proposed by Walster et Al who extended from Social Exchange Theory but focuses on fairness and states that people strive to achieve fairness in a relationship and they feel distress if unfairness is perceived.
According to Equity Theory, any form of inequity has the potential to cause distress. For example, people who give a great deal in a relationship and receive very little would see the relationship as inequitable and would be dissatisfied. However this is the same for those who give a receive a great deal and give nothing in return.
The greater the inequity, the greater the distress. Equity does not mean equality. Duck found three main reasons for relationship breakdown.
Lack of Skills
Lack of Stimulation
and Maintenance Difficulties
Stage 1 - Social Variables
Stage 2 - Internal Values
Stage 3 - Personality Traits Stage 1 Social Variables Ethnicity, social class, religion
The principal of homophily is important. Stage 2 Internal Values What we consider important, eg being vegetarian, environmental attitudes, attitudes towards fox hunting. Stage 3 Personality Traits eg. Extroversion Many factors leading to interpersonal attraction have been studied. the most major being similarity, familiarity, reciprocal liking, and physical attractiveness. Researchers conducted a longitudinal study on student couples that had been together for more or less than 18 months. They were asked to complete a questionnaire over a 7 month period in which they reported there attitude similarity and personality trait of partner.
They found that attitude similarity was a key factor up to 18 months. After 18 months ability to meet each others needs became important. Evaluation This model emphasises the importance of demographic factors and similarity of attitudes as filters.

However the fact that social variables was the only initial filter was opposed by Spreecher, who found attraction was not considered. His study showed that couples who were matched in physical attractiveness, social background and interests were more likely to develop long term relationships.

A longitudinal study by Gruber-Baldini et Al, on couples over 21 years found that those who were similar in age and educational level at the start of their relationships were more likey to stay together. They also found that the couples became similar in attitudes as time went on.

However the stages fail to capture the dynamics and fluency of the nature of relationships. In real life, relationships flow seamlessly and some develop faster or slower than the filter model suggests. Direct Reinforcement Argyle said that we have 7 needs and these needs are met by being in a relationship. Biological Needs - eating and drinking
Affiliation - seeking company and approval of others
Dependency - being comforted or nurtured.
Dominance - making decisions
Aggression - engaging in football violence
Sex - flirting etc
Self Esteem - being valued by others Research Evidence Griffitt and Guay - particpants were set a creative task by the experimenter and then asked to rate the experimenter. They found that the participants rated the experiementer higher if they had been positively rewarded for the task.
However it ignores cultural factors, Lott found that in many cultures women put the needs of others before themselves and
The theory only explores one factor that leads to liking, Hays stated that we gain satisfaction in giving rewards as well as receiving them.
Veitch and Griffitt say that we like people who indirectly reward us by being nearby when we feel good. Even if they aren't involved in making us feel good, after a while we associate them with the good feeling.
Also the theory only focuses on one type of relationship, family relationships are rarely based on rewards. Much of the research that supports the filter model is based on hetrosexual couples. Kitzinger therefore accuses the model of hetrosexist bias. One danger of empasising the sameness between hetrosexual and homosexual relationships is the failure to explore the marginalisation of the latter in the wider society. Kitzinger suggests that new models should be developed to understand the dynamics of same sex relationships. Evolutionary Explanation Comparison Level Thibaut and Kelly proposed that we have developed a comparison level, this is a standard to what all other relationships are judged against.
Our comparison level is a product of our experiences and what we expect from exchanges. If we judge that the profit level exceeds our comparison level we see the relationship as worthwhile. But if it doesn't meet our comparison level, we will be dissatisfied. A related concept is the comparison level for alternatives in which a person compares the current relationship with others they could be in. If the comparison level for alternatives is high, the person is likely to leave the current relationship for the higher profiting relationship. Criticism SET doesn't explain why people leave relationships when there's no alternative. Commentary The notion of exchanges can be used to explain why some women stay in abusive relationships.
Rusbult and Martz argue that when investments are high, such as children and financial security, and alternatives are low, such as no where else to live, this could still be considered a profitable relationship and can therefore explain why some women remain in such a relationship. Support Support can be found by looking into how people deal with potential alternatives. One way of dealing with these potential threats is to reduce them. Simpson et Al asked participants to rate participants of the opposite sex in terms of attractiveness. They found that those in relationships
gave lower ratings. Duck and Sants criticised Social Exchange Theory for focusing too much on the individuals perspective and ignoring social factors such as how partners communicate and interpret shared events.
However the main criticism is on the selfish nature of the theory. It assumes that people are only maintaining relationships for selfish concerns. Is it possible that this only applies in individualistic cultures. Cultural Bias In Equity and Exchange Moghaddam suggests that such economic theories only apply to western relationships and even then, only short term relationships between individuals with high mobility such as students.
When there is little time to develop long term commitment it makes sense to be concerned with give and take. However in long term relationships within our less mobile groups, they are more likey to value security than personal profit.
It is possible for a person to give and receive very different amounts but the relationship could still be seen as equitable. This is because of a persons perceived ratio of inputs and outputs, which is subjective.
This theory also says that if we perceive inequity we strive to restore it and make the relationship equitable. We may also compare our relationship to our comparison level to see whether it is worth continuing our investment or whether we should end it and begin a new one. Stafford and Canary Asked over 200 married couples to complete measures of equity and relationship satisfaction.
They found that satisfaction was highest in couples that perceived their relationships to be equitable. (Followed by over benefited partners, and lastly under benefited partners) These findings support equity theory.
Clark and Mills Clark and Mills disagreed with the claim that all relationships are based on economics. They found there were two types of relationships, exchange relationships and communal relationships. They stated that exchange relationships were between colleagues and business associates, and communal relationships were between friends or lovers.
Although exchange relationships may keep track of rewards and costs, communal relationships are governed by a desire to meet the needs of a partner. There may be some concern with equity but thtse will balence out in the long run. Hatfield et Al Asked newlyweds to asses what they and their partner contributed to the relationship and their level of contentment with the marriage.
They found the least satisfied were those who were under benefited.
The next least satisfied were those who over benefited.
But they found that equal relationships were the most satisfactory. Therefore supporting equity theory. Gender Differences Research has suggested that men and women may judge equity of a relationship differently.
Steli and Weltman found that husbands who earned more, rated their career more important than the wives. In these relationships they found the wife also rated the husbands career more important than her own.
However in couples where the wives income exceeds the mans, neither partner rated their career as more important. Researchers concluded that wives tendency to seek less for themselves impeded the achievement of equality at home. Lack of Skills Some people lack interpersonal skills, such as social skills. If they are poor conversationalists, they are likely to be unrewarding in their interactions with other people.
People could perceive their lack of social skills as a lack of interest in relating. Therefore this usually breaks down the relationship before its started. Lack of Stimulation According to SET, people look for rewards in their relationships, one of which is 'Stimulation'. Therefore if there is a lack of stimulation we would expect the relationship to breakdown.
Evidence for this is given by Baxter, who found that 'boredom' or the belief that 'it wasn't going anywhere' was often quoted when breaking off a relationship. People expect relationships to develop and when they don't people see this as justification to end the relationship or
start a new one. Maintenance Difficulties There are some circumstances where relationships breakdown simply because partners cannot see each other enough. Going away to university for example places a great strain on relationships and this is often a cause of relationship breakdown.
Shaver et Al found that there are some cases where relationships are strong enough to survive pressures of decreased daily contact,
this is not often the case. Intrapsychic Phase This is inside the head of one person when one partner becomes dissatisfied with the relationship.
The focus is on the partners behaviour, brood on their faults and relational costs.
Re-evaluate alternative relationships. 1 Dyadic Phase Between two people - other partner is told about the dissatisfaction
Negotiate in 'our relationship talks'
Attempt repair 2 3 Social Phase The breakup is made public.
Create face-saving accounts.
Relationship can be saved by intervention team 4 Grave Dressing Phase Finishing the relationship completely.
Public distribution of 'own version' of
the break up story 5 Resurrection Phase Recreating sense of own social value.
Defining what to get out of future relationships.
Preparing and refraining.
What I learned, and how things will be different. Evaluation The model is intuitively appealing as it appeals to common sense that relationships break down in stages rather than suddenly.
Ducks model trys to valid reasons for the breakdown which is theoretically important. As well as showing awareness of the complexity involved in the break up of relationships.
Rollie and Ducks model stresses the importance of communication in relationship breakdown. If the relationship is in the intrapsychic phase, you can go to counciling and re establish liking for the partner in order to repair the relationship. Therefore the model has implications for interventions.

However all samples to support the model are American, so we can only generalise to American states.
Also the model is overly prescriptive. Some breakdowns may not go through the stages in order. The model is supported by research by Tashiro and Frazier who surveyed undergraduates who had recently broken up. They said that they had emotional distress but also personal growth, this supports the grave dressing and resurrection phases. However this study only used undergraduates therefore we can only make moderatum generalisations. Dissatisfaction Partners discover problems in the relationship. Exposure The problems are identified
and brought into the open. Negotiation Some discussion about the issues
raised during the exposure period. Resolution Attempts Partners try to find
ways of resolving the problems. Termination If the resolution attempts are
unsucessful, the relationship breaks down. Compare and Contrast One similarity of Lee and Rollie & Ducks models is that they are both stage theories, and they show that dissolution is a process, so they both have practical application.
However one difference is that Ducks model includes a process after the relationship has ended, and Lee's model does not. Culture Moghaddam et Al found that North American relationships are mainly individualistic and concerned with the needs of self and therefore they're voluntary and temporary. Whereas most non Western relationships are collective, obligatory and permanent. Formation, Maintenance
and Breakdown
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