Outline and evaluate one theory of the formation of romantic relationships. (4+8 marks)

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Outline and evaluate one theory of the formation of romantic relationships. (4+8 marks)
        Jan ‘13

One of the theories that helps explain why some people choose one person over the other or some relationships just don’t work is the ‘Filter Model’ (FM) which was proposed by Kerchoff and Davis in 1962.

The FM argues that relationships develop through 3 filters, so therefore, different factors are important at different times. There are many potential partners but slowly we narrow them down to potential partners that we could realistically form a romantic relationship with, through the process of filtering.

The first filter looks at demographic or social variables. So we discard those people who we will never come into contact during our lives. Therefore this leaves us with the people who we tend to mix with: go to school/ work, live in the same area or do the same activities or sports. As we can’t meet everyone in the world, billions are automatically filtered out as it would be impossible to establish a relationship with them. The second filter is that of ‘Similarities of Attitudes and Values’. If couples share ideas, values and beliefs then communication will be easy but if they don’t then they would hardly have anything to talk about, so their relationship wouldn’t be able to progress. Due to this people who are very different to us are also filtered out.  The last filter is ‘Complementary Needs’ where once a relationship is established we take into account how well the couple are together and how they meet each other’s needs. If the partners don’t complement each other then they will be filtered out, so therefore the relationship will end before it has properly begun.

The FM is supported by various studies, for example a researcher tested the model and found that in the initial stages of a relationship, the second filter was the most important but after 18 months the third was more important. This supports the theory because it argues that different factors are important at different times in the relationship. In the initial stages, in order for the relationship to progress the couple must share things in common in order to be able to communicate with each other. However, as the relationship develops the third filter starts becoming more important as you’re starting to enrol in a long term relationship. Each partner will have to complement each other’s needs if not the relationship will inevitably end, so this is why after about 18 months filter 3 does become more important.

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Furthermore, Sprecher in 1998 found that those matched in physical attractiveness, social background and interests were more likely to develop a long term relationship. This also supports the FM as in the second filter, we filter out those who are very different to us and only keep those who share interest and have things in common. Taking it to a simple level, if one partner is very physically attractive but the other isn’t, then that person may feel insecure because they think that their partner should be with someone of their ‘standards’. Also, if there is nothing or very little ...

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