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Psychology - Relationships

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A2 Psychology Relationships (a) Describe research studies relating to interpersonal attraction (12 marks) Attraction and the formation of relationships in today's world is an everyday occurrence for most people and therefore it is not surprising that most of the psychological research into interpersonal and social relationships has centred on romantic relationships. Researchers have found a number of possible factors that play an important role in the formation of relationships, these being physical attractiveness, frequency of interaction, attitude similarity, demographic similarity and similarity in personality. Physical attractiveness in the Western World is of great importance and research has shown that being physically attractive is one of the primary determinants of whether or not you develop a relationship with someone. Investigations have shown that physical attractiveness makes people more popular and applies to both platonic and romantic relationships. A study done by Brigham (1971) found that physically attractive individuals are thought of as being generally attractive and being sociable, exciting, interesting, poised and sexually warm. Cunningham (1986) investigated the particular features of men and women that make them attractive to the opposite sex and found that attraction to women was related to having large eyes, a small nose and a small chin. ...read more.


There is considerable evidence to support the view that similarity of values, attitudes, beliefs and ways of thinking are common indicators of strong friendship and attraction. It is thought that the more similar attitudes are between people, the greater the likelihood of their friendship or romance, and demographic factors such as religion, social class, age and ethnic background are also important as people tend to prefer those who are demographically similar to themselves. Caspi and Herbener (1990) found that the more similar a husband and wife were, the most satisfied they tended to be with their marriage. However, Kerckhoff and Davis's filter theory of mate selection (1962) has put forward the idea that although similarity is important in the early stages of a relationship, for a long-term relationship to develop, complementarity of needs is of greater importance. (b) Evaluate the research studies relating to interpersonal attraction that you described in Part A. (12 marks) When evaluating attraction and the formation of platonic and romantic relationships, one must consider and variety of factors. ...read more.


It is arguable that a lot of the research into interpersonal relationships has been over-generalised as by focusing upon the individual or the couple, a lot of the earlier research failed to take into account third parties. Family and friends have an enormous influence upon those with whom we form friendships and relationships. Similarly, much of the research carried out in the 1960s and 1970s focused too heavily on snapshots of relationships and therefore doesn't take the change and variability of a relationship into account. One could argue that there has too much of an emphasis on romantic relationships at the expense of cross-sex and same-sex platonic friendships, which play a large part in the people's everyday lives. One could also conceive that no characteristics or attributes of certain person are absolute; they are relative. For example, something you may find attractive in someone at the beginning of a relationship may later be viewed as negative. Ultimately, although all of the factors mentioned above play a large part in attraction and the formation of relationships, there will always be exceptions to the rule and things such as individual differences mean that research cannot always be applied universally. Joanna Lowe Page 1 Miss Meyer ...read more.

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