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Describe and evaluate psychological research into the dissolution (breakdown) of relationships

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Describe and evaluate psychological research into the dissolution (breakdown) of relationships There are many different factors into why some relationships fail and others succeed. In this particular essay, I will look into why some relationships do breakdown. The first model into the dissolution of relationships was devised by Karney and Bradbury (1955). They said that there were three major factors that determined marital stability. The first of these were enduring vulnerabilities, which includes an unhappy childhood and high neuroticism. The second is stressful events such as illness or poverty. Lastly, adaptive processes also have an effect. This refers to constructive and destructive coping strategies to resolve issues. All three factors can be linked together; for example, enduring vulnerabilities can cause stressful events. This model is good because past research has shown that many factors have been associated with the breakdown of relationships, and most of these factors can be related to the three variables mentioned in this model. ...read more.


If the problem is not resolved here then it goes to the final stage. This is the grave-dressing phase, where the ex-partners begin the organisation of their post-relationship lives. A strength of this model is that it addresses cognitive aspects, not just behavioural aspects of relationships. It has important implications for the repair of relationships. However, it can be criticised because, although it mentions the stages of a breakdown, it doesn't provide reasons for why this happens. It also doesn't take into account individual differences for example; it assumes that everyone goes through the same stages in a relationship break-up. This might not necessarily be true, for example not every relationship breakup may involve friends or family, or couples may go through the stages in a different order. Lastly, it is culturally biased, and so the results cannot be generalised to other countries. ...read more.


The Social Exchange theory, proposed by Thibaut and Kelley (1959) can also explain the dissolution of relationships. This theory is based on the cost and rewards, or the give and take in a relationship. Costs in a relationship could be seen as energy, time and money spent, whereas rewards could be affection, company and security. The Social Exchange Theory argues that the relationship will end if the costs are greater than the rewards. It states that we compare the relationship we are in to past relationships -if the costs and rewards are better or worse than before, it can help to determine whether we will stay in that relationship. This theory is strengthened by the Equity theory, which states that people are happiest in relationships if the give and take is about equal. However, there are some criticisms - firstly, it doesn't take into account people's feelings. Secondly, although it provides a reason for why relationships breakdown, it doesn't explain how. ...read more.

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