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Relationship formation

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Non Contact Lesson Thursday 1st April 2010 Relationship Breakdown Outline and evaluate two theories for the formation of relationships (25 marks) A relationship is an encounter with another person or a group of people that endures over time. It happens with celebrities even though you don't meet them. Derrick (2008) discovered how these 'fake relationships' (parasocial relationships) could provide a safe route for people who have a difficult time with real interpersonal relationships. People with low self-esteem can use parasocial relationships to feel closer to their ideal selves (i.e. the person they would rather be than the person they actually are). Relationships are important to social well being. They are characterised by features including the following: responsibility, giving,, taking, rules (for e.g. you can't sleep with your friend's ex-partner) and roles (best friend, wife, daughter mother etc). There are two main theories that explain why relationships are formed. I am going to begin with the reward/need satisfaction model (Byrne and Clove, 1970) this suggests that both operant and classical conditioning play a part in relationships. This theory states that we learn to associate with people for positive and enjoyable situations even if they are not directly rewarding us in these instances. In other words, we enter a relationship that rewards us the most or give us the most pleasure. ...read more.


Participants in relationships are often more concerned with equity and fairness in rewards and demands than with the desire to maximise their own benefits. Furthermore, this model tends to focus on western cultures hence lacks ecological validity. In non -western cultures you tend to be rewarded for being like everyone else rather than individualistic so being in a relationship wouldn't be rewarding in these cultures. Hill (1972) showed that kinship bonds are very influential resilient not dependent on reinforcement. Indicating social relationships are more commonly found in these countries and show little concern for the receipt of reinforcements. In addition this theory doesn't take into account gender differences as women are more focused on the needs of others, with men it is against their 'machismo' and 'manliness', who are orientated towards the gratification of their own needs, (Lott, 1994). However it could be argued that 'meeting the needs of others' might be reinforcing in itself. Moreover, the matching hypothesis (Walster et al, 1966) suggests that physical attractiveness is the main thing we look for in a mate and that we are attracted to those that are similar to us. Further research lead to the following main theories: socially desirable individuals seek out other socially desirable individuals and matched couples tend to be more successful than unmatched couples. ...read more.


This idea that; individuals can sometimes compensate for their lack of attractiveness by offering their other desirable traits (e.g. status and money) has been termed 'complex matching' (Hatfield and Sprecher. 2009). This hypothesis doesn't take into account gender differences and Takeuchi (2006) has shown that a gender difference does exist in the degree to which physical attractiveness is valued by an opposite sex partner. Physical attractiveness of women is valued more heavily by men than that by women of men. So it has less impact on the perception of men's social desirability. In other words, women tend to be more picky than men and take high social status e.g. money and power, also certain personality traits such as kindness and generosity into account. On a good note, the matching hypothesis takes into account the roles of third parties which may form relationships such as friends, family or even dating sites. Hatfield and Sprecher (2009) suggest it is likely that these third parties would consider compatibility because they determine who would make suitable matches. For example, in traditional arranged marriages, parents may be in a better position to judge compatibility in the long term than are their children, those decisions maybe swayed be emotions or hormones (Xiaohe and Whyte 1990). In contrast, it doesn't take into account individual differences for e.g. ...read more.

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