Romantic Relationships Theory

AQA A-level Psychology A: Relationships.

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Romantic Relationships Theory by Mind Map: Romantic Relationships Theory

1. Relationship Maintenance

1.1. Equity Theory - Walster (1978)

1.1.1. People weigh up costs and rewards in a relationship - maximise rewards and minimise negative experiences - people have an expectation that relationships should be fair - if both partners are taking out and putting in similar amounts, they are likely to be satisfied - if not equal the relationship is 'inequitable' and this will lead to problems. If it is a long term relationship, the couple may be motivated to repair the damage by restoring equity.

1.1.1.1. Van Yperen and Buunk (1990) - longitudinal study - volunteer sample - 65% of men and women felt that their relationship was equitable - 25% of men felt they were over benefitted and the same % of women felt under benefitted. One year later - those who previously felt their relationship was equitable were most satisfied - then the men who were over benefited - then the women who were under benefited.

1.1.1.1.1. Reliable as it was longitudinal rather than obtaining a snapshot view

1.1.1.2. De Marris (2007) - America - a women's sense of being under benefitted was most important in predicting later disruption - maybe women value equity more than women.

1.1.1.3. Miell and Croghan (1996) - equity principle is more significant in Western, individualistic cultures.

1.1.1.4. Cultural bias: individualist principles inherent with Economic emphasis in couples striving for what is most rewarding for themselves as individuals, with collectivist cultures being ignored.

1.1.1.5. Reductionist: reduced down to trading of needs and wants, stages of a relationship are broken down. Ignores influence of emotions and media.

1.1.2. Restoring equity can be done by a) reducing inputs i.e. putting less effort in or b) increasing inputs/rewards i.e. encouraging the there person to put more effort in.

1.1.3. Equity can be measured using the Hatfield Global Measure which uses a scale from +3 (I am getting a much better deal than my partner) to -3 (I am getting a much worse deal than my partner).

1.2. Social Exchange Theory - Homans (1971)

1.2.1. We run our relationships whilst keeping an eye on costs and rewards - 'profit' is where the rewards outweigh the costs - 'loss' is the other way round and leads to dissatisfaction within the relationship.

1.2.1.1. Skinner- operant conditioning-same concept

1.2.1.2. Doesn't explain why people continue to stay interrelationships which are extremely unrewarding e.g. domestic abuse.

1.2.1.3. Assumes that people spend a considerable amount of time and effort monitoring their relationships

1.2.1.3.1. Argyle (1987) - people only begin to count costs and miter relationships after they have become dissatisfied.

1.2.1.4. Argues that people are basically selfish and self centred

1.2.2. Interdependence Theory - Thibaut and Kelley (1959)

1.2.2.1. Development of social exchange theory - relationship based on a 'balance sheet' - comparing to previous and alternatives on offer - if the current relationship compares favourably, you are likely to be satisfied.

1.3. Investment Model - Rusbult and Lange (1996)

1.3.1. The best predictor of whether a couple will stay together or not is commitment, this includes - important 3 factors in a successful relationship

1.3.1.1. May be very important in understanding why people stay in relationships which are unrewarding i.e. domestic abuse

1.3.1.1.1. Impett et al (2003) - prospective study - married couples - commitment to the marriage by both partners predicted relationship stability.

1.3.1.1.2. Jerstad (2005) - investments, notably the amount of time and effort put into the relationship, were the most important predictor of whether or not someone would stay in w violent relationship - those who had experiences the most violence were often the most committed.

1.3.2. Satisfaction: the rewards minus the costs of being in a particular relationship - this is compared to the personal standard of what is acceptable - is this outcome surpasses the comparison level, individuals are satisfied

1.3.3. Quality of alternative relationships: if there is an attractive alternative to their relationship, they may be drawn to it - sometimes they may stay in a relationship just because there is a lack of better alternatives - alternatively, they could feel that having no relationship would be worse than having an unsatisfactory one.

1.3.4. Investments into the relationship: this is anything that an individual puts into a relationship which may be lost if they leave e.g. time, friends, material possessions.

2. Relationship Formation

2.1. Filter Model - Kerckhoff and Davis (1962)

2.1.1. Social/ Demographic Variables - looks at the 'field of availables' - it is often subconscious - filters out those who are from different social, educational and economic backgrounds - this created the 'field of desirables'.

2.1.2. Similarity of attitudes and values - filters out those with different beliefs, attitudes and values as this can cause communication problems.

2.1.2.1. Useful way to think about the factors which are influential in relationship development and when they might come into play - factors which were once important i.e. similar attitudes, may be less relevant later in the relationship.

2.1.2.1.1. Kerckhoff and davis (1962) - longitudinal study - students - couples who had been together up to 18 months felt that attitude was the most important factor - after 18 months, the most important factor was the ability to satisfy each other's emotional needs.

2.1.2.2. Emphasises the importance of demographic factors

2.1.2.2.1. Sprecher (1998) - couples who were matched in physical attractiveness, social background and interests, were more likely to develop a long-term relationship

2.1.2.3. The division of relationships into stages fails to capture their fluid and dynamic nature - in real life, some relationships may develop faster or slower than the filter model suggests.

2.1.3. Complimentarily of emotional needs - this filter occurs when the relationship is fairly long term - the partners should meet each other's needs.

2.2. Reward/Need Theory -Byrne et al

2.2.1. Direct reinforcment may encourage the formation of relationships between individuals.

2.2.1.1. Collectivist cultures are less focussed on individual rewards

2.2.1.2. Women have been found to want to meet the needs of others more than men

2.2.1.3. Ignores natures influence e.g. evolution upon attraction

2.2.1.4. Reductionist: relationship initiation broken down into stimulus and response

2.2.1.5. Deterministic : associations may be made outside their control, influencing who they like

2.2.2. People are attracted to those they find rewarding to be with as they meet an unmet need e.g.the need for company, financial security - operant conditioning, potential partner offers pleasant stimulus e.g. smiling- classical conditioning, the partner may become associated with a positive mood- successful relationships develop when the positive feelings outweigh the negative feelings.

2.2.2.1. Rusbult and Van Lange (1996) - rewards are important in determining if and how a relationship will develop.

2.2.2.2. Clark and Mills (1979) - those who do not know each other as well initially exchange rewards on a 'tit for tat' basis (exchange relationships) - as a relationship progresses, rewards may be exchanged in a less reciprocal way (communal relationships) and rewards are given as a result for the well being of the partner and a desire to please them.

2.2.2.3. Griffit and Guay (1969) - Ps rated liking an experimenter more, depending on the extent that they had positively evaluated their performance on a task, as this positively reinforced them and made them feel happy.

2.2.2.3.1. External Validity of the findings are questioned as the study was conducted in artificial conditions

2.2.2.3.2. May be difficult to generalise findings to romantic relationships as role of attraction was not considered

2.2.3. NEEDS: biologically based (sex), emotional needs (emotional support, sense of belonging). REWARDS: having fun together, self disclosure, sharing activities.

3. Relationship Breakdown

3.1. Dissolution Model - Duck (1988)

3.1.1. Intra psychic stage - unhappiness or dissatisfaction of one partner who may discuss with friends

3.1.1.1. Duck ignores differences in the way men/women cope with the breakdown of a relationship.

3.1.2. Dyadic phase - opinions are shared and discussed with the partner - they may decide to undergo counselling

3.1.2.1. Reductionism: reduces relationship breakdown to particular stages.

3.1.3. Social phase - problems are aired publicly - friends and family are aware and may take sides - break up is inevitable

3.1.3.1. Nurture: nature is not considered in this theory.

3.1.4. Grave dressing phase - couple have officially split up - each partner creates their version of what went wrong and who/what was to blame

3.1.4.1. Methodology: questionnaires were used to develop their theory so investigator bias may be present in their interpretation.