Bargaining Sampling The Social Phase Commitment Grave Dressing Phase Get you thinking How does this clip link to Social exchange theory Objectives Learning Objectives On completion of this unit you should be familiar with the following ID: 711742 Download Presentation
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Embed / Share - Relationships Theories of Romantic Relationships
RelationshipsTheories of Romantic Relationships
The Social Phase
Grave Dressing PhaseSlide2
Get you thinking- How does this clip link to Social exchange theory?Slide3
Learning ObjectivesOn completion of this unit you should be familiar with the following:Theories of romantic relationships: social exchange theory, equity theory and Rusbult’s investment model of commitment, satisfaction, comparison with alternatives and investment. Duck’s phase model of relationship breakdown: intra-psychic, dyadic, social and grave dressing phases.Slide4
Theories of Romantic Relationships
Learning ObjectivesOn completion of this section you should be familiar with the following: Theories of romantic relationships: social exchange theory, equity theory and Rusbult’s investment model of commitment, satisfaction, comparison with alternatives and investment. Duck’s phase model of relationship breakdown: intra-psychic, dyadic, social and grave dressing phases
In the previous lessons we have
looked at the main factors that affect attraction and the formation of romantic relationships. These factors have been used by psychologists to develop psychological theories of how relationships are formed and maintained. Here we will look at the Social exchange theory, Equity theory, Rusbult’s Investment model and Duck’s Phase model. Slide5
1.Theories of romantic relationships
Many psychological theories explain the formation and maintenance of romantic relationships in terms of an ‘economic theory’, which implies that romantic relationships are a result of a bargaining process between two individuals, where some resources are shared and others are traded. Therefore, there is a reward and cost associated with the relationship.
To get you thinking about economic theories, write down what the rewards and costs associated with romantic relationships might be.Slide6
Social Exchange Theory
Thibaut and Kelley (1959) proposed a Social Exchange Theory of romantic relationships, which assumes that individuals attempt to maximise their ‘profits’ (rewards) and minimise any ‘losses’ (costs) associated with the relationship. Rewards may include emotional support, sex, companionship and care, while the costs may include missed opportunities, having to compromise, or financial investments. The theory suggests that in order for a relationship to flourish the rewards received from being in a relationship must outweigh the costs of being in that relationship. The Social Exchange Theory claims that a romantic relationship goes through four stagesAnother important aspect of the Social Exchange Theory is that it claims that people use a comparison level (CL) to actively compare the profits from their current relationship with those experienced in previous relationships. So, if someone has experienced a poor relationship in the past they will expect any new relationship to be the same. In addition, the Social Exchange Theory also claims that people will compare their current profit in a relationship to the likely profits available from other potential relationships, this is known as the comparison level of alternatives (CLA).Slide7
So, for a relationship to form and be maintained the Social Exchange Theory claims that both partners need to be satisfied with their CL and the CLA needs to be low, making the costs of leaving the relationship high. If either partner becomes dissatisfied with their CL and the CLA is high, meaning there are better relationships elsewhere and the cost of leaving is low, the relationship will breakdown
According to the Social Exchange Theory of romantic relationships, relationships as the result of a cost-reward calculation made by the individuals concerned. True or false?(1 mark)Outline the four stages of the Social Exchange Theory of romantic relationships(4 marks)
Which of the following statements are
not an assumption of the Social Exchange Theory? Circle all that apply.
A A comparison level is used to compare current relationships with past relationships
B Experiencing a poor relationship in the past will not affect future expectations
C A comparison of level of alternatives measures the profit of a current relationship
D A relationship where the costs are higher than the rewards will flourish
E Relationships do not continue if the costs outweigh the rewards
F The theory assumes that romantic relationships develop through four stages
Strengths The Social Exchange Theory may explain why some people stay in relationships even when they are deeply unsatisfied or even being subject to abuse by their partner, especially if they have children and have no money to go elsewhere. So, staying in an abusive relationship is better than no relationship at all on the comparison level.Simpson et al. (1990) found that people who were already in relationships rated members of the opposite sex lower in physical attractiveness than those who were not in relationships. This supports the social exchange theory assumption that people use the CLA to assess the potential profit of a new relationship, as people who are in already committed relationship are less likely to view a new relationship as profitable Limitations
The theory is criticised for being too simplistic as it does not take into account that people change whilst in a relationship and stages may be re-visited.
The social exchange theory is a selfish one as it measures satisfaction based only on the rewards the person gets. This is an example of cultural bias as it ignores how relationships are formed in non-Western cultures where there is less focus on the individual.
The social exchange theory also ignores other relevant social aspects of relationship development such as family involvement or the way that people communicate with one another.
Another criticism is that CL and CLA are not properly defined as it does not state precisely how big a difference in comparison level is necessary before someone would leave a relationship.
The social exchange theory of romantic relationships can be criticised for being culture-biased. Outline how this affects the main assumptions of this theory
To try to answer the criticism that the Social Exchange Theory assumes that people are ultimately selfish and do not consider others in a relationship, Walster et al (1978) developed the Equity Theory of romantic relationships. They proposed that people look for fairness and equity in a relationship, through the expectation that the rewards they will receive from their partner will be equal to the rewards they provide.The main assumption of the Equity Theory of romantic relationships are:People strive to maximise their rewards and reduce costs in their relationshipsPeople are comfortable when they perceive that they are getting out roughly what they have put in to a relationship – no more and certainly no less
An inequitable relationship produces distress
When people perceive their relationship as being inequitable they will attempt to restore equity or leave the relationshipSlide10
To study the Equity Theory of romantic relationships psychologists such as Hatfield et al (2008) have used the Multi-Trait Measure of Equity to assess how fair and equitable men and women perceive their relationships to be. Using a seven point Likert scale, this measure of equity asks couples who are dating, co-habiting and married to indicate how fair and equitable they feel their relationship is in relation to different categories on a list, including finances and household chores. They have found that equity is important in many aspects of a relationship and it does not diminish over time.
It is important to note that equity does not mean equality, i.e. that each partner puts in the same amount in terms of rewards, it is about each partner perceiving that the rewards they receive is equal to what they have put in. For example, if one partner puts less into the relationship than the other it is still perceived as fair if that partner gets less out of the relationship. Outline one similarity and one difference between the Social Exchange Theory and Equity Theory of romantic relationships (4 marks)Slide11
Briefly outline the main assumptions of the Equity Theory of romantic relationships
(4 marks)Which of the following statements are not an assumption of the Equity Theory? Circle all that applyA An inequitable relationship causes distress B People want to receive rewards equal to the amount of rewards they have put inC Partners who do not bring an equal amount of reward will be preferredD Individuals try to maximise the rewards they receive and minimise the cos(3 marks)
According to the Equity Theory of romantic relationships, as long as the contributions from each partner are perceived as equal, the relationship remains stable and happy. True or false?
Outline how the Equity Theory explains the formation, maintenance and breakdown of romantic relationships
Strengths Research by Hatfield et al. (1979) found that participants who felt they were putting more in to a relationship than they were receiving in rewards felt unhappy in their relationships. This supports the Equity Theory claim that people seek equity in their relationshipsDainton and Goss (2003) found that when one person feels the relationship is inequitable they are more likely to engage in negative maintenance behaviours such as infidelity or avoidance. Supporting the Equity Theory’s claim that each partner needs to perceive that the rewards they receive is equal to what they have put inLimitations The theory does not explain individual differences in behaviour, for example Argyle (1988) found that over inequity was more distressing to women than to men.Like the social exchange theory, equity theory is cultural-biased as it ignores how relationships are formed in non-Western cultures where there is less focus on the individual. So, it may not be valid in collectivist cultures.
(1996) found no relationship between equity and quality of future relationships. So, contradicting the Equity Theory claim that inequity in the current relationship will lead a person to seek a more equitable relationship in the future.Clark and Mills (1979) argue that relationships are not based on economic, rewards and costs theories. They claim that romantic relationships are driven by a desire to respond to the needs of a partner.Slide13
Rusbult’s Investment Model of Commitment
Rusbult’s (1983) model claims that individuals stay together because they develop a strong commitment to the relationship as a result of the following factors:Slide14
According to Rusbult these are the three main factors that help us understand commitment to a particular romantic relationship. The model shows that relationships do not just continue because the positive aspects that each partner brings outweighs the negatives, but also because they are bound to one another through their investment in the relationship (financial, time, emotions, childcare
etc) and the absence of an alternative to their current relationshipIn the early 1980’s Rusbult carried out a study in which participants were asked to read descriptions of hypothetical relationships that varied in their satisfaction level, alternatives and investment size and then to how satisfied and committed they thought the individuals would be to that relationship. In addition, Rusbult carried out a longitudinal study where participants were asked to complete a survey about their own relationship to determine if changes in satisfaction level, quality of alternatives and investment size affected their level of commitment to the relationship and ultimately to help predict how long the relationship would last.The studies found that commitment was more strongly related to whether relationships endured than the satisfaction level of each partner. Rusbult concluded that commitment is the key to understanding why some relationships last and others end, as commitment levels appear to increase with high levels of satisfaction, weaker alternatives and increasing investmentsSlide15
Investment Model of Commitment (4 marks)According to the Equity Theory of romantic relationships, as long as the contributions from each partner are perceived as equal, the relationship remains stable and happy. True or false?(1 mark)Outline how Rusbult’s
Investment Model of Commitment explains why individuals remain in an abusive relationship
Strengths A meta-analysis carried out by Agnew et al (2011), using data collected from nearly 38,000 participants in 137 studies over a 33-year period, has found that commitment is a powerful predictor of relationship breakup The investment model of commitment can also be used to explain other commitment processes and how successful an individual will be in the field of work or sports.By looking at the psychological process which determines commitment, the investment model uses a scientific approach to the study of relationshipsLimitations As with the other models and theories of romantic relationships, this model ignores other relevant social aspects of relationship maintenance, such as family involvement or the way that people communicate with one another.
Another criticism of the investment model of commitment is that it is difficult to properly define the three stages and it does not state precisely how low the level of commitment needs to be before someone would leave a relationship.
The idea that romantic relationships are important to the self, that they are dependent on it and will wants to put effort and commitment into maintain the relationship is a Western concept and ignores some of the characteristics of collectivist cultures, such as frequent contact among members of the extended family and an emphasis on social acceptance and approval. So, the model is culture-biased.Slide17
Rusbult’s research study used questionnaires to gather data. Outline one strength and one limitations of using this method when investigating romantic relationships
(2 marks)So, we have looked at the various theories and explanations of relationship formation and maintenance. You need to consider which theory you think is the most convincing explanation of why people would form relationships and, most importantly, why. Thinking about each of their strengths and limitations and considering other factors, such as sex differences, culture-biased and the issue of free will. Are we really free to choose our own partners or are there other genetic or social factors involved? Slide18
2. Duck’s phase model of relationship breakdown
Relationships breakdown for a variety of reasons, but they always involve the voluntary activity of at least one partner, where one or the other purposefully ends a relationship. Duck (1999) looked at the different processes that occur during a relationship breakdown and proposed the following model:
Duck’s Phase Model of Relationship BreakdownSlide19
Duck argued that as the dissatisfied partner moves through each stage, they reach a threshold which tips them over to the next stage. The thresholds in each phase are: “I can’t take this anymore” (intra-psychic), “I’d be justified in leaving” (dyadic), “I mean it” (social) and “It’s now inevitable” (grave-dressing).
A study by Tashiro and Frazier (2003) found that college undergraduates who had recently split from their partners reported that their relationship breakdown did follow the stage process as outlined by Duck and that the final stage of the process was a period of personal growth that enabled them to move on from the relationship. Briefly outline Duck’s Phase Model of relationship breakdown(4 marks) Slide20
Strengths The stages outlined in Duck’s model makes sense, since we can all recognise the phases, and so it has face validity.The Phase Model looks at more than the behaviours involved in relationship breakdown it also considers cognitive factors such as emotions and feelings.Duck’s model emphasises the role of personal growth in the grave-dressing stage, as the individual moves on and builds a new life. It avoids focusing on the negative and emotionally distressing outcomes of relationship breakdown as many other theories do.Limitations The models describe the processes of relationship breakdown, it does not explain why relationships end.The model tends to focus on the experiences of white, middle class heterosexual participants. So, is cultural-biased,
et al (1993) found that relationships breakdown in Western cultures is voluntary and easy, this is not the case in collectivistic cultures were relationships are obligatory and permanent.
Akert (1988) found that there are individual differences in the way each partner deals with the relationship breakdown, arguing that the partner who did not initiate the breakup process was far lonelier, unhappy and depressed than the partner ending the relationship. The Phase Model does not account for these differences as it assumes that everyone will go through the same phases in the same way, so it is deterministic.Slide21
One of the main criticisms of Duck’s Phase Model of relationship breakdown is that it does not really consider that people may resolve their differences and stay together, so it pretty much assumes that once the process of relationship breakdown has started dissolution is inevitable. On the other hand, Lee’s (1984) stage model suggests that relationship breakdown proceeds through the following five stages:
1. Dissatisfaction - one or both partners recognises that there is a problem with the relationship2. Exposure - The problems in the relationship are exposed and brought into the open3. Negotiation
- Both partners discuss the problem
4. Resolution - Both partners attempt to find solutions to their problems
As you can see, in contrast to Duck’s model, Lee’s model focuses more on the stages at which it is still possible to save the relationship and is based on the findings of a survey of 112 unmarried couples who’s relationships had broken down. Lee found that the relationships that had been the strongest took the longest time to work through the five stages. Therefore, Lee’s Stage Model may be more useful to relationship counsellors working with couples who want to save their relationship. However, like Duck’s Phase Model, Lee’s model only focuses on how relationships break down it does not explain why they break down.Slide22
Briefly outline how Lee’s Stage Model differs from Duck’s Phase Model.
(3 marks)Stage models of relationship breakdown are often criticised as they ignore the role of free will. Explain why this might be the case. (2 marks)Slide23
Read the item and answer the question that follows(16 marks)AO1(6 marks)
It's Saturday morning and Jon wants to play five-a-side with his mates, but Lisa reminds him that he’s promised to go shopping with her. Jon storms out leaving Lisa angry and upset, so she goes shopping and has lunch with her friends, telling them all about Jon’s selfish behaviour. After the match, Jon stops off at the pub and gets chatting to a young woman at the bar, who gives him her telephone number. When Jon arrives home, he notices shopping bags in the bedroom and is angry and shouts at Lisa. She refuses to speak to him all evening and they sleep in separate rooms
Discuss theories of relationship breakdown. Refer to Jon and Lisa’s relationship in your answer.