Free Essay

Outline and Evaluate Two Theories of the Formation of Relationships

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By sayyaad3
Words 921
Pages 4
Outline and evaluate two theories of the maintenance of relationships
Social Exchange Theory (SET) is one explanation of the maintenance of relationships. It assumes that all social behaviour is a series of exchanges where individuals attempt to maximise their rewards and minimise costs. Exchange refers to when an individual receives an award from others, they feel obliged to reciprocate. These rewards that we may receive from a relationship may include companionship, security and sex. Costs are those exchanges that result in a loss or punishment. These may include physical or psychological abuse and loss of other opportunities. The rewards minus the costs equal the outcomes or profits.
Thibaut and Kelly developed a comparison level. They introduced two levels; comparison level and comparison level for alternatives. Our comparison level refers to our past and present and is the product of our experiences in other relationships together with other general views or expectations. If the current relationship exceeds our comparison level, we deem the relationship to be worthwhile and we are motivated to maintain the relationship. If however, the profit is less than our comparison level, we will be left dissatisfied and the other person will appear less attractive as a partner. The comparison level for alternatives, on the other hand, is concerned with the benefits of possible alternative relationships. It involves a person weighing up a potential increase in rewards from a different partner, minus any cost associated with ending the current relationship.
Thibaut and Kelly also developed a four-stage model of long-term relationships. These consisted of sampling, where rewards and costs are assessed in a variety of different relationships. Bargaining, where a relationship is ‘costed out’ and sources of profit and loss are identified, Commitment where the relationship is established and maintained by a predictable exchange of rewards and finally institutionalisation where interactions are established and the couple have ‘settled down’.
At strength of SET is that there is supporting evidence for example from Rusbult. College students completed questionnaires over a 7-month period and found three underlying factors that determined whether they were satisfied with their relationship. These factors included, carefully wighing up the rewards and costs of the relationship, considering the amount they had invested into the relationship and the existence of an attractive alternative. However, Rusbult identified that SET did not explain the early ‘honeymoon’ phase of a relationship where the balance of exchanges were ignored. Methodological issues associated with Rusbult’s study was the use of questionnaires which may lead to social-desirability characteristics where people may not answer truthfully. Participants may have under-reported or over-reported certain behaviours of views which would affect the results. Hatfield also provided supporting evidence for SET as he found that people who felt under-benefited in a relationship felt angry and deprived whereas people who felt over-benefited felt guilty and uncomfortable. This supports the theory by suggesting that, regardless of whether individuals are benefited, they may not desire to maintain a relationship.
However, a weakness of SET is that the explanation is reductionist as it breaks down relationships into basic, social interactions that are focused on selfish awards of a single individual. It also fails to take into account the notion of fairness between to individuals leading to equity. It believes that people are only motivated to maintain relationships out of selfish concerns, when often this may not be the case. This suggests that SET is oversimplified. It is also very mechanistic as not everyone may evaluate their relationship and it is wrong to assume every single individual in a relationship weights up the costs and losses.
It is also difficult to define rewards and costs precisely and these can be subjective and so individual differences may apply as what may be a reward to one person, another may feel it is a cost.
SET also doesn’t account for cultural differences as Moghaddam suggests that these theories only apply to Western relationships and even then only to certain short-term relationships among individuals with high mobility. Therefore SET possesses some validity in western society such as America but not in collectivist’s societies and is therefore culturally bias.

Another theory of the maintenance of romantic relationships is Equity theory. Equity theory offers an explanation of how social exchange works in real-life romantic relationships. It assumes that people strive to achieve fairness in their relationships and feel distressed when unfairness is perceived. People who contribute greatly into the relationship and receive little in return would perceive inequity, as would those who receive a great deal and give a little in return. The greater the perceived inequity, the greater the dissatisfaction, and so the greater the dress. Equity is however, different to equality and the ratio of inputs and outputs is used to measure what is fair in a relationships. What are considered inputs and outputs are a subjective opinion of each partner and an equitable relationship should be one where one’s partner’s benefits minus their costs equals their partners benefits less their costs. If we perceive equality, we are motivated to resotre it, for example by changing the amount we put into a relationship, or our perceptions of relative inputs and outputs.
Supporting evidence for this theory comes from research from Dainton, who studied couples and found that those in relationships of perceived inequality had low relationships satisfaction. These individuals were more motivated to return to an equitable state in order to maintain the relationship. This suggests that equity is a main factor in relationship satisfaction and maintenance.…...

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

Outline and Evaluate Two or More Definitions of Abnormality

...adequately’. Secondly there is the issue of how the definition of ‘functioning adequately’ can be applied cross-culturally. For instance someone from another culture may exhibit a behaviour which is consistent with this definition of abnormality in western culture, but would be perfectly normal in their own culture. The final definition is that of deviation from ideal mental health. Marie Jahoda (1958) laid down six criteria from ideal mental health and said that the absence of these criteria indicates abnormality and potential mental disorder. The biggest issue with this definition is the criteria, specifically in that very few people fulfil them all and therefore suggesting that the vast majority of people are abnormal. Secondly, Jahoda’s theory relies on being able to diagnose mental illness in the same way as physical illness. This is difficult because while some mental illnesses are due to physical effects and also give physical signs of their existence in a person, others do not. These are consequence of life experiences. Therefore it is unlikely that we could diagnose mental illnesses in the same way we do physical. While these definitions could be seen to be useful, none of them are applicable cross-culturally. Due to the difficulty involved in defining abnormality, it would seem logical to spend the effort previously invested in its definition in its treatment....

Words: 396 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Outline and Evaluate the Learning Theory as an Example of Attachment.

...The learning theory, firstly proposed by Dolland Miller (1950) argues that attachment is a form of nurture and so is learnt. Behaviourists came up with the idea that it is learnt either through classical or operant conditioning. The learning theory was introduced by behaviourists who base most of their explanation on the effects of nurturing. They proposed that all behaviour is learned rather than inborn and In terms of attachment, through either classical or operant conditioning. Psychologists have based their explanation of attachment on Pavlov’s experiments into classical conditioning. They argue that for infants the sensation of hunger and the need for food is an unconditioned stimulus and producing a sense of pleasure happens when the baby receives food. The baby then has an unconditioned response to receiving food. The person who produces the food becomes associated with the pleasure the baby feels. If that is repeated enough the baby then reacts in a similar way to the mother as it does to food, even in the absence of food. The baby then learns to become attached to the mother. Operant conditioning states that, any behaviour that produces a positive reinforcement such as food will be repeated. Behaviours that switch off something unpleasant are also likely to be repeated (negative reinforcement). This can be applied to attachment in the sense that a new-born baby will cry in response to feelings of discomfort, which come from being hungry or cold. The sound of a......

Words: 803 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Outline and Evaluate the Learning Theory of Attachment

...Essay Questions Outline and evaluate the learning theory of attachment The Learning theory states that babies form attachments in the same way any behaviour is acquired: it is learned. There are two different ways of learning, according to the theory: Classical conditioning (learning through association) and Operant conditioning (learning through repetition or punishment). The first type, Classical conditioning, is a learning process that occurs through associations between an environmental stimulus and a naturally occuring stimulus. If, for example, we were to use an infant and a primary care giver (PCG): * Food is an unconditioned stimulus that produces an unconditioned response (pleasure). * At the start, PCG is a neutral stimulus who produces no response (pleasure.) * However, because the PCG is continually paired with the unconditioned stimulus (food), she becomes associated with it until eventually the PCG alone can produce pleasure. * PCG has now become a conditioned stimulus and the pleasure she brings is a conditioned response. The second type, Operant conditioning, is a learning process that occurs through rewards and punishment for behaviour. Through this conditioning, an association is made between a behaviour and the consequences for that behaviour. If, for example, we were to use an infant and a PCG: * When hungry, the infant feels uncomfortable and experiences a drive state. * This drive motivates the infant to find some way to......

Words: 448 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Outline and Evaluate the Learning Theory of Attachment

...The learning theory argues that attachments are based on the principles of operant and classical conditioning. First attachments are quite often formed to the person who looks after the child, who feeds them, changes their nappies and comforts them. First attachment figures are a powerful source of pleasure for the baby, as well as removing physical and emotional discomforts including pain, cold and hunger. An early version of the learning theory based on both operant and classical conditioning was proposed by Dollard and Miller (1950) According to the learning theory, the baby has to learn to form an attachment with his/her caregiver. In the process of operant conditioning, the caregiver rewards the baby by feeding it, so the baby then associates the caregiver with the reward and repeats any action that brings her close. This happens because food brings a feeling of pleasure to the baby. Food is the primary reinforcer. By removing discomfort, it reinforces the behaviour that led to its arrival. But food doesn't come without the caregiver bringing it, so the caregiver becomes the secondary reinforcer - even without bringing food, the presence or the mother reduces discomfort and brings a feeling of pleasure. The baby will therefore repeat any action, for example, crying which brings the caregiver close. On the other hand, classical conditioning argues that attachment is learnt by association. According to classical conditioning, food is an unconditioned stimulus that......

Words: 546 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

Describe and Evaluate Two or More Theories of the Formation of Romantic Relationships

...Describe and evaluate two or more theories of the formation of romantic relationships (9 marks + 16 marks) January 2011 One theory that outlines the formation of relationships is the reward/ need satisfaction theory that was developed by Byrne and Clore (1970). The theory suggests that we form a relationship because the presence of a particular individual is associated with reinforcement. This is because rewarding stimuli creates positive feelings and these stimuli may be people. These people therefore make us happy, so, due to operant conditioning, we seek to adopt behaviours that lead to a desirable outcome and avoid those that lead to an undesirable outcome. Therefore, the presence of an individual produces positive reinforcement as they have a more attractive appeal. This theory also suggests that we are attracted to people if we meet them whilst we’re in a good mood, an example being at a party. As a result, previously neutral stimuli become positively valued as they are associated with the pleasant event, therefore meaning that we learn to like people through classical conditioning. Griffit and Guay (1969) conducted a study to investigate how the reward/need satisfaction theory works and how well it is acceptable. Participants were evaluated on a creative task by an experimenter. Later they were asked how much they liked the experimenter, and an onlooker who was present. The rating was highest when the experimenter had given positive evaluation of the task. This is......

Words: 1506 - Pages: 7

Free Essay

Outline and Evaluate the Relationship Between the Workplace and Stress

...Outline and Evaluate the relationship between the workplace and stress Many people believe work affects their health. Defining what is stressful in the workplace is not easy, because individuals react quite differently to the same situation. However, some common factors have been found in many workers that cause them stress and in some cases lead to illness. These include the level of control they have (low control = stress), the amount of workload they have (high workload = stress) and role conflict (getting the work life balance right). The job-strain model of workplace stress suggests that the workplace creates stress and illness in two ways, through high workload (putting pressure on people to work harder) and low job control (e.g. over deadlines and procedures). Marmot tested this model by studying 7372 civil servants. They were asked to fill in a questionnaire on workload, job control and how much social support they received. They were also checked for signs of cardiovascular disease (e.g. chest pains). Five years later they were then re-assessed to see if those who reported difficulties also had more severe heart disease. They found that for workload and stress there was no link. However, for job control and social support there was a link. The lowest grade civil servants had both low job control and poor social support and had the highest level of cardiovascular problems. In contrast the higher-grade civil servants expressed a high level of job control......

Words: 763 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Outline and Evaluate Two or More Definitions of Abnormality

...Outline and evaluate two or more definitions of abnormality? (12 Marks) Deviation from social norms is a definition of abnormality. The word ‘deviation’ in this definition is referring to deviant behaviour (behaviour which is considered anti-social or undesirable by the majority of society members). In society there are social norms (standards of acceptable behaviour that are set by the social group). These standards are often in place for good reason. An example of a social norm is politeness as this is the start of interpersonal relations. People who are being rude or are behaving in an anti-social way because others find it difficult to interact with them. Social standards are not restricted to rules of etiquette but also more serious issues, such as what is acceptable in sexual behaviour. Our culture permits sex between consenting adults of any gender but regards some other behaviours as sexually deviant. For example in the past homosexuality was classified as deviant behaviour in the UK but nowadays it isn’t so things change with time. The main difficulty with the deviation from social norms is that it varies as times change. So what is socially acceptable now may not have been acceptable 50 years ago. In our time now homosexuality is acceptable but in the past it was included under sexual and gender identity disorders. Its something like in Russia 50 years ago, anyone who disagreed with state ran the risk of being regarded as insane and placed in a mental institution...

Words: 487 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Outline and Evaluate Two Explanations of Conformity.

...Outline and evaluate two explanations of conformity. Normative social influence is a type of conformity compliance, where people behave in a way in which the majority are. This is where a large majority of people are able to indirectly control other people by making it difficult to oppose their views or opinions, thus making the minority feel pressured into complying. Although it may not change the minority’s opinions, some still conform to avoid social judgement and rejection of a large group. Asch’s study “Research into Majority Influence” (1996) clearly showed that 36.8% of the responses in 12 critical trials were incorrect due to the participants conforming under the pressure of 5 other confederates. This showed that humans have a tendency to fall under social pressure and conform to beliefs (their public beliefs, not their private) that they themselves do not believe. Informational social influence is similar to normative although the participants in Asch’s study were found to change their public and private beliefs, an example of internalisation. Informational social influence is most likely seen when the situation is unclear to the participant, where the situation is of great importance that occurs quickly so rapid decision making is needed and where the participant is to believe an expert’s opinion – where humans are more likely to believe someone that knows what to do or say. Wittenbrink and Henly’s (1996) found that when participants were exposed to negativity......

Words: 286 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Outline and Evaluate Two Definitions of Social Class

...which states that social class is an economic concept which relates to the way in which society organises its production. Marx said that there are two social classes the upper/ ruling class and the working/subject class, also know as the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariats. The upper class owns means of production such as facotires, machinery and land and also maintain a power due to this, over the working class because the working class only own their labour power. The working class have such thing called a false class consciousness which is where they have a false awareness of the fact that they are being exploited by the ruling class, this exploitation is in the manner of money. Children who are born within a working class family develop their sense of Another definition of social class is in the Neo Marxist view .Bourdieu stated that there are different capitals which could indicate your positon in a social class. The economic capital depends on your weath, financial income and inheritace. Economic capital is usually higher among the upper class because of higher paid jobs. Cultural capital is the cultural awareness one maintains and is also to do with education and is harder to achieve due to defing and quantifiable information. Culutral capital is usually passed on through the generationweiofj • Social capital –relationships and networks with others along with contacts. • More dependant on social capital during adolescence • University more cultural capital......

Words: 288 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Outline and Evaluate the Relationship Between the Immune System and Stress

...Outline and evaluate research into the relationship between the immune system and Stress-related illness. (12marks) It is suggested that stress can result in immunosuppression which can lead to stress-related illnesses such as Coronary Heart Disease and high blood pressure. Kiecolt and Glaser conducted an experiment to see the effects of stress on the immune system. This was achieved by taking blood samples of 75 medical students one month before and during their examination period. They then compared the two blood samples and found decreased leucocyte activity in the sample taken during high levels of stress (during their exams). This shows that stress reduces the activity of the immune system, making them more susceptible to becoming ill. Advantages of the study are that blood tests are objective measurements, so there was no social desirability or experimenter bias when analysing the results. The participants were also compared to themselves which removes participant variables on how they perceive stressors. The experiment was a field experiment so there was no manipulating of the independant variable to deliberately cause stress to the participants which makes it ethical. It also means the research has ecological validity and can be applied to the wider world. However, a field experiment may have extraneous variables which impact the results. For example, the student lifestyle of having little sleep and poor accomidation may have been an alternative source of stress.......

Words: 350 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Outline & Evaluate One Social-Psychological Theory of Aggression

...Outline & evaluate one social-psychological theory of aggression One social-psychological theory of aggression is the social-learning theory. Bandura suggested that as well as being learnt through direct experience, aggressive behaviour can be learnt indirectly, through observation of others. If a person observes aggressive behaviour in a model, they may imitate their behaviour, especially if they identify with or admire the model. The observer forms a mental representation of the event, including the consequences (rewards or punishments) of the models behaviour. Vicarious reinforcement is when the model is rewarded, and this will increase the chance of the behaviour being repeated. In this way, children learn appropriate and effective ways to use certain behaviours. When a person imitates the behaviour, they gain direct experience. The outcome of aggressive behaviour will influence the value of aggression for a child. When a child is rewarded for behaviour, this is direct reinforcement, and will make them more likely to repeat the behaviour. A child develops confidence in their ability to use aggressive behaviour successfully. If they are unsuccessful, they will have lower self-efficacy, so will be less confident that they can use aggression successfully, and will turn to other behaviours. A strength of social learning theory is that it is supported by empirical evidence, for example Bandura’s Bobo doll studies. Children who were shown a video of an adult being......

Words: 511 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Outline and Evaluate the Contributions of Psychological Research (Theories and/or Studies) to Our Understanding of the Formation of Relationships

...Outline and evaluate the contributions of psychological research (theories and/or studies) to our understanding of the formation of relationships (24 marks) One theory of formation of relationships that has contributed to our understanding of the formation of relationships, is the reward/need satisfaction theory. Byrne and Clove suggest that this theory means mutual attraction occurs when each partner meets the other persons need through operant conditioning. This might be the need for financial satisfaction or love etc. The rewards and needs can come from various factors. One of these factors is proximity which describes the distance between you and the potential partner. If the proximity is close then the reward gained is less effort being put in in having to see them. Another factor similarity refers to how similar you are to the potential partner in regards to the interests you both share i.e. religion, beliefs, music etc. The more similar you are the high the reward of enjoying each other’s company. A last factor is physical attractiveness referring to how attractive you think the potential partner is. A supporting study was done by Cate et al where he asked 337 individuals to assess their existing relationships in terms of reward level and satisfaction. The results found that reward levels was the most superior out of all other factors in determining relationship satisfaction. This therefore increases the reliability of the ‘Need/Satisfaction Theory’ and does explain...

Words: 1242 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Discuss Two Theories of the Breakdown of Relationships

...Discuss two theories of the breakdown of relationships There are some common reasons for the breakdown of a relationship. For example; dissatisfaction or boredom with the relationship, breaking agreed rules and interference from other relationships. In our culture, relationships are considered ‘successful’ if partners stay together, and those relationships that end ‘prematurely’ are considered failures. This is despite the fact that many so-called successful relationships continue even though neither partner is really committed to the relationship. Likewise, ending an unhappy relationship may help each partner to find a new and happy life elsewhere with a new partner. Duck developed a four phase model to describe the termination of close or intimate relationships. Firstly, the intra-psychic phase is where one of the partners or friends becomes more and more dissatisfied with the relationship. They do not tell their partner. If the dissatisfaction is great enough, there is progression to the next phase. The next phase is called the Dyadic phase. Here the other person becomes involved. In this phase the partners discuss their discontent and talk about the different parts in their relationship and seeing if there is a way to get around the problems. If the dissatisfaction is not acceptably resolved, there is progression to the next phase. This phase is known as the Social phase. This is where the break up is ‘aired’ and made public, e.g. to family and friends. It is also......

Words: 1006 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Formation of Relationships

...Discuss two or more theories of the formation of romantic relationships. (8 marks + 16 marks) Reward/need satisfaction theory suggests that we become attracted to people who evoke positive feelings as they provide direct reinforcement through operant conditioning. If the presence of an individual leads to a positive outcome, they will be perceived as more attractive. We are thus more likely to repeat these behaviours towards that individual, leading to the formation of a relationship. We also become attracted to people who are associated with positive events through classical conditioning. People who are associated with these positive events acquire positive value, increasing our attraction to them. For a relationship to commence & succeed, positive feelings should outweigh negative feelings. Griffitt & Guay provided support for the idea that we like some individuals because they provide direct reinforcement. Participants were evaluated on a creative task by an experimenter & were then asked how much they like the experimenter. The rating was highest when the participant was highly evaluated (i.e. rewarded) by the experimenter, showing that direct reinforcement can lead to attraction. The same study also supported the role of indirect reinforcement (association with positive events). Participants of the study had to rate an onlooker as well as an experimenter. The onlooker was also more highly rated when the participant had been positively evaluated by the......

Words: 641 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

Outline and Evaluate the Breakdown of Relationships

...Outline and evalute the breakdown of relationships A01- Duck skills maintenance A02-Shavier, Rofhling IDA- gender bias PA- ccet - china A01-rollie and duck -stages of breakdown A02 - Tashiro and Frazier A03- methological flaws IDA - determinsitic Duck suggested that relationships breakdown due to various of reasons, such as lack of skills. This means that people in the relationships have a lack of interpersonal skills to make eachother mutally satisfyimg, if a person lacks interpersonal skills or social skills have poor conversational skills and are bad at indicatomg they like a particular person it could lead the other partner to believe they are unintresting, unrewarding in their interactions. This then leading to the breakdown of a relationship. Additionally, Duck suggested that if a raltaionship is lacking in stimulation then breakdown will occur. Lack of stiumulation is when you expect the relationship to change and develop but does not. This results in the partner being unsatisfied thus forming the relationship to stop. Maintenance diffulties is another reason why relationships breakdown. This is where there is a strain caused in a realtionship e.g if a couple can not see eachother for various of reasons. This may be due to not living close together or that their jobs causes them to find it difficult to spend time with eachother. Therefore if a relationship has maintenance difficulties Duck suggests it will lead to a breakdown in the relationship. ...

Words: 1050 - Pages: 5

Blood Feuds | Antworten | Koi to Uso 162