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Outline and evaluate theories on the maintenance of romantic relationships (24 Marks)

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Transfer-Encoding: chunked ´╗┐Outline and evaluate the maintenance of romantic relationships There are two theories that can explain the maintenance of romantic relationships. The Social Exchange Theory and the Equity Theory provide useful explanations to the maintenance of relationships. The social exchange theory (SET) devised by Thibaut and Kelley argue that relationships involve the exchange of rewards and costs between two people. Examples of rewards would be affection and sharing, whereas cost might include arguments, loss of freedom and boredom. We aim to maintain a relationship by maximising rewards and minimising costs. The theory argues that we compare an existing relationship with two bench marks to see how it?s doing. The comparison level (CL) is used as a standard to judge the quality of our existing relationships. Our CL is determined by our experiences of previous relationships and our observations of others? relationships. If the profitability of our current relationships exceeds the CL, the relationship is judged as worthwhile. The comparison level for alternatives (CLA) is how people weigh the profitability of their current relationship with that of potential future relationships. ...read more.


Relationship closeness involved rewards plus costs not rewards minus costs like the theory suggests. Further research by Argyle argue that people only really begin to count the costs and monitor the relationship after they have become dissatisfied. Similarly, Duck argues that people do not keep an eye on other alternatives which are on offer and only start to consider alternatives when they become dissatisfied with their current relationship. An alternative theory is the equity theory. Equity theory devised by Walster proposes that people strive to achieve fairness in their relationships, any inequity can cause distress. Relationship satisfaction is highest when each partner feels that they give the same amount into the relationship and get the same amount of rewards from it. Inequity, when people feel that they are giving a lot & getting little out of the relationships or are giving little and getting a lot, leads to dissatisfaction & distress. There is research evidence which suggests that equitable relationships are the most satisfactory ones. Stafford & Canary found marital satisfaction to be lowest in people who considered themselves to be under-benefited and highest in those who felt they were in equitable relationships. ...read more.


This means there must be other factors that contribute to the maintenance of relationships. Also The theories has been criticised by psychologists for being deterministic by ignoring the role of free will of individuals by suggesting that we only take into account the fairness, rewards and costs and ignores our individual choices or other factors. Therefore it?s unlikely to explain the explanation into the maintenance of all romantic relationships and thus reducing the external reliability of the theories. Furthermore, they show imposed etic. They assume all cultures however we know this isn?t the case. In eastern cultures where arranged marriages are common they do not focus on costs, rewards and fairness. These theories fail to explain all of relationships. Lastly, the theories of maintenance into romantic relationships do not explain the maintenance of homosexual relationships, as homosexuals do not engage in traditional roles i.e. man and wife, and therefore the costs and rewards for them may be different and therefore doesn?t explain maintenance as a whole. In conclusion, these theories provide useful explanations to maintenance of aggression but they fail to consider all cultures and relationships and cannot explain relationship maintenance as a whole. ...read more.

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