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AQA A2 Psychology Unit 3 Relationships: The Formation, Maintenance And Breakdown of Romantic Relationships Notes

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A2 Psychology Unit 3 Relationships: The Formation, Maintenance And Breakdown of Romantic Relationships Notes What You Need To Know: * Theories of the formation, maintenance and breakdown of romantic relationships: e.g. reinforcement/affect theory, social exchange theory, sociobiological theory. Reinforcement/affect theory (Byrne and Clore, 1970): * Based on learning theory (classical and operant conditioning) * We make an indirect association between two events (classical conditioning) and either seek to engage in similar (direct) behaviours again if there are pleasurable consequences, or avoid them in future if unpleasant (operant conditioning) * The theory says that experiences in the relationship may or may not reinforce a positive affect (emotion). Formation - If we experience positive feelings we are more likely to like the people around us at that time and possibly engage in behaviours that may result in our forming a relationship with them. If we experience negative feelings we are less likely to like the people. Maintenance - If positive feelings develop we are more likely to stay in the relationship. As relationships develop the needs of partners change. The flexibility of the relationship to meet these changing demands will influence the reinforcement experienced. Breakdown - If positive feelings (affect) are no longer generated the relationship may begin to breakdown because of lack of reinforcement. ...read more.


Sampling - People consider the potential costs and rewards of a relationship and compare it with others. 2. Bargaining - There is a giving and receiving of rewards at the beginning of the relationship which tests whether the relationship should continue. 3. Commitment - Focus is on the relationship and the costs and rewards are stabilised. 4. Institutionalisation - Norms of rewards and costs are established by the partners as they `settle down`. Formation - Relationships are formed on the basis of costs and rewards. If perceived or expected rewards are more than costs we may begin to form the relationship. Maintenance - Maintenance requires the rewards to remain beneficial for both parties. If we invest more in a relationship then we get out of it we may think again about staying in that relationship. Breakdown - When costs are greater than rewards the relationship is more likely to break down. Research into social exchange theory: Rusbult (1983) - Satisfaction and alternatives * College students were given questionnaires every few weeks for seven months. * Satisfaction, alternatives and investment all predicted commitment to a relationship. * This finding is supported by other research with married couples and homosexual relationships Simpson et al (1990) - Role of available alternatives * Available alternatives are viewed differently according to the current relationship. ...read more.


Stage 2 Exposure - The partner reveals their dissatisfaction openly. Stage 3 Negotiation - Discussions take place about the dissatisfaction. Stage 4: Resolution - Attempts to resolve the problem made. Stage 5: Termination - The relationship breaks down. Evaluating Duck's and Lee's models: The emphasis is slightly different in each case. Duck focuses on the beginning and end of the relationship. Lee focuses on the earlier stages where the relationship may be saved. * Relationships are individual and dynamic and these theories cannot be applied to all of them. * The models are culturally specific and therefore biased, as they only truly apply to western individualist cultures. * Breakdowns are usually investigated after they have happened, and such retrospective data is prone to inaccuracies. * The theories are basically descriptive, i.e. they explain the process of break-up rather than its reasons. * Female's fatal attraction hypothesis offers an alternative: - The qualities that attract two people also contribute to breakdown. - People are `blinded` to undesirable qualities early in a relationship, and over time it becomes more difficult to overlook these things. * Argyle and Henderson's rule violation theory offers another alternative: - Some relationship rules are perspective (i.e. they say what is expected) and some are restrictive (i.e. say what is permissible). - Breaking restrictive rules could be interpreted as betrayal and lead to relationship breakdown. ...read more.

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