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Discuss research into the breakdown of romantic relationships (24 marks)

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´╗┐Discuss research into the breakdown of romantic relationships (24 marks) Jan ?12 Forming a relationship may seem relatively easy; however maintaining the relationship will be harder to do. Psychologists have come up with various theories to try and explain how to maintain a relationship alongside to the factors that cause the breakdown of it. One theory that explains the breakdown of romantic relationships is the ?Social Exchange Theory? (SET). The theory states that relationships are based on a series of costs and rewards. It considers costs to an individual in a relationship, e.g. time, betrayal and jealousy. These are all costs in a relationship because you need to give up time to be with your partner in order for the relationship to progress. At some point inevitably you will be betrayed or will be jealous for some reason. The theory argues that individuals in a relationship will unconsciously try to calculate the ratio of these costs and rewards. This therefore gathers that this ratio and the satisfaction of the individual is dependent on the outcome, and without a doubt, will determine the nature of the relationship. It is natural that people will try to maximise rewards, for example the feeling of love and trust, from their relationship but minimise costs, as we are all selfish when it comes it rewards. ...read more.


However as the relationship progresses they start to become annoyed at this trait which is when they start calculating this ratio. Moreover, the SET views all people as being self-centred and selfish. It ignores individual differences because there is evidence that suggest that some individuals gain pleasure from giving as well as receiving. Some people will be gain happiness through costs. For example, one partner may like satisfying their partner by maybe giving them a gift or other small things. This is a cost for that person; however, because they see how happy their partner has become, the costs become a reward for them to. The SET is challenged by the Equity Theory (ET). Although it is an extension of the SET as it considers the costs and rewards, it suggests that people expect relationships to be fair and equal. The theory predicts that a couple will only be happy if one partner?s rewards and costs are equal to the others. Therefore, both the male and female will only be happy if they both put in the same amount of effort into the relationship, which will result in the same benefits. If this balance is unequal, maybe because one partner puts in more effort than the other, then it could lead to the relationship being referred to as ?inequitable?. ...read more.


This raises the profile of women as Gilligan?s theory of morality poses that the morality of women is different to that of men but not inferior. This last point contradicts Freud?s vision that femininity is just failed masculinity associated with the absence of a penis. Both these theories are culturally biased as they only reflect Westernised Individualists because it?s these cultures who believe in a fair and equal relationship. There is an element of ethnocentrism because the research findings from one particular culture have been generalised to all other cultures. You can?t generalise these findings in collectivist societies as people value inter-dependence. There is an inattention to issues of cultural context and cross-cultural variations in the norms and rules that regulate social exchange. Moreover, they are both reductionist as it explains the breakdown of relationships in terms of profits and losses, so it makes it sound like relationships are an artificial business. It should be explained in terms more like a project because there are factors which need to be overcome, e.g. children, illness, financial issues etc. Furthermore, the ET puts a complex topic, i.e. the happiness of a marriage and deconstructs it into a simple theory. Other factors like jealousy, money and infidelity will put a strain in a marriage regardless if both partners are putting in the same effort into the relationship. ...read more.

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