• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Describe and evaluate research relating to the formation and/or maintenance of relationships

Extracts from this document...


Describe and evaluate research relating to the formation and/or maintenance of relationships From an evolutionary perspective, we choose a partner, and hence form a relationship, by assessing how useful they will be for the purposes of reproduction and survival. For example, it is predicted that males look for youthfulness and a low waist-hip ratio (Singh, 1993) in women as they are indications of fertility and health. As male fertility has little dependence on age, females may seek older and stronger men as they would be fertile and able to offer protection for them and their children. Evidence for this comes from Dunbar (1995) who, in a study of lonely hearts advertisements, women sought resources and offered good looks, and men offered resources and sought good looks. Singh (1993, 1994) developed a set of line drawings of women with different waste-hip ratios (WHR) and found that men typically preferred a low WHR of about 0.7. This study was criticised for lacking mundane realism as they were just line drawings, but Henss (2000) found, when using real-life photographs of women which were altered computationally to represent different WHRs, that 0.7 was still the preferred ratio. ...read more.


Evidence for this comes from Rusbult (1983), who found that when people were deciding whether to end a relationship, they weighed up the rewards and costs of the relationship and considered the alternatives open to them. This implies that for a relationship to continue, there is an assessment of the rewards and costs of the relationship and of alternatives, therefore supporting economic exchange theories. However, despite the face validity of theories such as Equity Theory, research into economic exchange theories has been associated with contrived methodologies that have little ecological validity. There has also been a lot of emphasis on short-term relationships and little consideration of, for example, marriages; and the research also did not examine the longer-term dynamics of relationships over time. These dynamics can be examined in greater detail, however, when ideas such as maintenance strategies are taken into account; for example, avoidance strategies, whereby one partner avoids discussion of the future with the other partner if they feel that the other partner does not want to continue the relationship but they do (Ayres, 1983). Supporting this, Dindia & Baxter (1987) ...read more.


Lund (1985) found that investment size was more important in determining the level of commitment than were satisfaction or rewards. Michaels et al. (1986) found that commitment was stronger when the outcomes of the relationship exceeded those anticipated in alternative relationships, and that the extent to which relationship was equitable did not predict commitment. This is therefore in direct contrast with Equity Theory. However, Rusbult's approach may not be sufficient, since the three factors are not entirely independent of each other, so, for example, an individual may invest more in a relationship as a result of being satisfied with it. Additionally, she focussed heavily on short-term rather than long-term relationships. These theories are largely concerned with the interactions between only the two people in the relationship, which may be a reductionist idea � Hagestad & Smyer (1982) said that social factors such as the expectations of friends and family can be significant in maintaining relationships. This identifies external factors not considered in other research above, and may be particularly relevant when examining relationships in collectivist cultures, where the expectations and opinions of others may have a much larger impact than in individualist cultures. Clive Newstead ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Social Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Social Psychology essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Describe and evaluate one or more theories relating to the formation and/or maintenance of ...

    4 star(s)

    Bargaining: as the relationship develops, partners give and receive rewards; this tests whether a deeper relationship is worthwhile. Commitment: as predictability increases in the relationship, each partner knows how to elicit rewards from the other and costs are lowered. Institutionalisation: in which 'norms' are developed within the relationship, which establishes the patterns of rewards and costs for each partner.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Outline one theory of the maintenance of relationships. The social exchange theory (Thibaut and ...

    3 star(s)

    what you get out of a relationship should be more or less equal to what you put in. Women, on the other hand, were more likely to focus on the norm of equality (i.e. both partners should receive equal amounts of benefits regardless of how much they put into the relationship.)

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Describe and evaluate research into the formation and maintenance of relationships

    3 star(s)

    However this theory does have evolutionary advantages. It offers a plausible explanation for the air pollution specifically preferences that exist today. In revolutionary past, mental selected partners who were law in reproductive capacity would have experienced law reproductive success then mental selected mates with peak with productive value.

  2. Describe and evaluate the theories of attraction and relationship formation.

    The male is capable of fathering an almost infinite number of children in a relatively short period of time, whereas, the women usually carries one pregnancy at a time.

  1. Behavioural Management Strategies

    These activities if built up gradually may help raise a child's confidence around others, if the activities are too full on the child may not benefit from them at all. P5, M3, D2. Parent and child contracts can be drawn up to bridge the behaviour management in school and at home.

  2. Outline and evaluate two theories of the maintenance of relationships.

    Thibaut and Kelley proposed that we develop a comparison level ? a standard against which all our relationships are judged. Our comparison level is a product of our experiences in other relationships together with our general views of what we might expect from this particular exchange.

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

    Thibaut and Kelly's `minimax` theory * We attempt to minimise relationship costs whilst maximising benefits. * People's feelings in a relationship depend on a number of factors: - Perception of rewards and costs - Perceptions of the relationship they feel they deserve (the `comparison level` or cl)

  2. Theories on the maintenance and breakdown of relationships

    This study suggests the idea that commitment is important as it will determine whether or not a couple will stay together. However, although the study does provide some support for the investment theory, it only looked at married couples.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work