Relationships (Theories of Romantic Relationships (Rusbult's…
Theories of Romantic Relationships
Rusbult's Investment Model of Commitment
Rusbult et al
gave the investment model scale (IMS) questionnaire to students in relationships. They found that commitment in relationships was positively correlated with satisfaction levels, negatively correlated with the quality of alternatives and positively correlated with investment size.
Real world application:
explains why people stay in abusive relationships
The IMS scale has high validity and reliability but relies on self-report
(social desirability bias)
Le et al
found commitment was a particularly strong predictor of whether a relationship would work or not.
Able to explain cheating
doesn't take future investments into account
correlational studies -
can't prove cause & effect
Relationships persist not only because of individuals commitment, but also because of their investment and lack of better options.
This model suggests there are 4 factors that determine relationship stability:
Refers to the positive vs negative emotions experienced within a relationship. Satisfaction is influenced by the extent to which a partner fulfils an individuals needs.
Comparison with alternatives:
Refers to the extent to which an individual's most important needs might be better fulfilled outside the current relationship
Refers to all the resources that are attached to the relationship and such resources would be lost if the relationship was to end. E.g. direct investments such as time and effort, and indirect investments such as children. After investments have occurred, the partners commitment increases, as ending the relationship would become more costly
Refers to the likelihood that an individual will persist with their current relationship. Commitment increases when satisfaction levels and investment size are high and the quality of alternatives.
Equity theory is a modification of SET. and suggests that partners are motivated to achieve fairness in a relationship and feel dissatisfied with inequity.
Relationships where individuals put in more than they receive, or receieve more than they out in, lead to dissatisfaction and possible relationship breakdown. Therefore if there is a perceived inequity within the relationship, individuals are motivated to return to a state of equity
4 principles of Equity:
rewards are maximised and costs minimised
Trade-offs and compensations are negotiated to achieve fairness
the greater the degree of perceived unfairness, the greater the sense of dissatisfaction
if restoring equity is possible, attempts to realign equity will occur and the relationship will be maintained
found those who were in relationships of perceived inequity had low relationship satisfaction, but were motivated to return equity to maintain the relationship.
Huseman et al
developed the idea of
are more tolerant of under-rewarded relationships while
are unsatisfied with being under-rewarded. Equity sensitives experience tension when faced with inequity, so ET can only explain the behaviour of this type of person.
Aumer-Ryan et al:
in collectivist cultures couples were most satisfied when over-benefiting, while in individualistic cultures couples are satisfied with equity.
Social Exchange Theory:
SET is an economic explanation of relationship maintenance.
It proposes that in any relationship both partners are continually giving and receiving items of value to and from each other.
As people are fundamentally selfish, relationships only continue if both partners feel they are getting more out of the relationship than they are putting in (maximising profit and minimising cost)
The partners assess their rewards by making two comparisons:
A standard against which all our relationships are judged - e.g. comparison of past relationships with present. If the profit from current relationships exceeds the comparison level it will be maintained.
Comparison Levels for Alternatives:
Rewards and costs are compared against perceived rewards and costs of possible alternative relationships. If the profit in current relationship is higher than the perceived profit it will be maintained
Duck's Phase Model Of Relationship Breakdown:
Duck proposes that relationship breakdown occurs through a series of stages.
Relationships usually break down when one of the partners becomes dissatisfied or distressed with the way the relationship is conducted.
Typically, the realisation that the person is no longer willing or able to stand this dissatisfaction is the starting point of the eventual relationship breakdown.
Tashiro & Frazier:
found that after relationship breakdowns personal growth factors helped with future relationships, supporting the grave-dressing process.
The model has
Real world application
- relationship counselling
Does not explain why dissatifaction occurs in the first place
as cannot explain all relationship breakdowns
The 4 phases of relationship breakdown:
One partner privately perceives dissatisfaction with the relationship. They brood on partners faults and evaluate alternative relationships and costs of leaving
Disscussion of dissatisfaction with partner, negotiation through relationship talks, attempts of reconsiliation.
Dissatisfaction and breakdown is made public, support is sought from 3rd parties
Grave Dressing phase:
Establishment of a post-relationship view of the break up to protect self-esteem, performing 'getting-over-it' activities
Thibaut & Kelly's 4 stage model of Relationship Maintenance:
Analysing the potential costs and rewards of entering into a relationship with someone
A testing phase of giving and receiving rewards to understand whether a deeper relationship is worth forming.
Sampling and bargaining is reduced and attraction to the other person is increased if the costs of being in a relationship are also reduced. The relationship is established and maintained by a predictable exchange of mutually beneficial rewards
Norms established, mutual expectations in place, each knows now how to minimise cost and maximise reward. The couple 'settle down'.
found that costs and rewards of relationships were compared against the costs and rewards of potential relationships in order to decide whether the relationship should be maintained, showing comparison levels of alternatives are used.
Mills & Clarke
identified 2 types of couples; the communal couple and the exchange couple. The communal couple is concerned with constantly rewarding the other person, while exchange couples keep mental notes on who is ahead and who is behind in terms of rewards. This suggests that SET can be applied to exchange couples but not communal couples
Real world application:
helped to develop integrated behavioural couples therapy
explain same-sex couples
as well as heterosexual ones
-Not everyone has the
same definition of costs and rewards
and the theory doesn't take this into account
Virtual Relationships & Para-social Relationships
Parasocial relationships are one sided relationships that occur with media personalities outside of an individual's real social network. These relationships usually occur without the personalities knowledge.
They are characterised by the following features:
Parasocial encounters usually occur when individuals experience a
(e.g. TV shows). Individuals might feel that
same as face-to-face encounters
and that they 'know' the media personality.
Parasocial relationships are
similar to physical relationships
because they are
, have a
, provide companionship, and are
preceded by attraction
Parasocial relationships are
more likely to form
considered attractive and similar to the viewer
Absorption Addiction Model:
, this model explain how an
individuals fascination with a media personality
progresses to a
delusion of a real relationship.
Some individuals seek more intense parasocial relationships to fill dissatisfaction in their own lives. It explains how parasocial relationships are
Levels of Parasocial Relationships:
The fan wtaches, keeps up with, reads and learns about their favourite celebrity for the purpose of entertainment.
Involves a deeper level of involvement, such as feeling a connection with the media personality (soul mates)
The fan shows empathy with the celebrities successes and failures. Over-identification with the celebrity occurs which leads to uncontrollable behaviours and fantasies about them.
McCutcheon & Houran
found that worshipping celebrities does not automatically make people dysfunctional, but does increase their chances of becoming so.
found that stalkers often have a history of failed sexual relationships, suggesting the borderline-pathological level is related to dissatisfaction with individuals own lives.
as can help develop effective therapies to reduce obsessive tendencies in parasocial relationships
on parasocial relationships
Provides a description rather than an explanation of the process.
Attachment Theory Explanation
Cole & Leets
found adults with
most likely to form parasocial relationships
mild forms of celebrity worship
, suggesting this explanation can
only explain intense forms
of parasocial relationships
Individuals often look for a
to attach to figures. In parasocial relationships, the
regarded as the 'safe-base'.
Attachment Theory Explanation:
Suggests that parasocial relationships are formed by those with
insecure childhood attachments
attachment types are seen as
most likely to form parasocial relationships
because they have a stronger need for emotional relationships, while those with
attachments have difficulties trusting others and therefore feel no need to seek any type of intimacy.
Involves an effortless focusing of attention, which leads fans to believe they have a special relationship with that celebrity, motivating them to learn more about the object of their attention.
- Absorption compensates for personal dissatisfaction
From Absorption to Addiction:
If the level of absorption is high enough, the person may move on to higher levels of parasocial interaction, where the motivation behind the absorption may eventually become
. This may lead to
The parasocial relationship
when the individual reaches the
level because of the progressively stronger involvement that is required in order to remain connected with the celebrity.
Virtual Relationship in Social Media:
Virtual relationships are
between communicating via social media.
Self-Disclosure in Virtual Relationships:
Self-disclosure is when a person reveals intimate personal information to another person.
In face-to-face relationships, individuals do not usually engage in
with one another until they are confident that their information will remain confidential.
reveal intimate information with less fear
because of the
and lack of access to each others social circle.
Because of the
greater ease of self-disclosure
in virtual relationships,
closeness and intimacy develop more quickly
and are based on
more meaningful factors
such as shared attitudes and interests, rather than physical attractiveness.
Absence of Gating:
Gates refers to the barriers that
for the less attractive, shy or less socially skilled to
form face-to-face relationships
In online relationships there is an
absence of these gates
, which has consequences:
The absence of gates makes it
less likely that potential relationships are stopped
from getting off the ground.
true self is more likely to be revealed
than in face-to-face interactions, which contributes to the development of close virtual relationships.
Absence of Gating
found that the removal of physical gating features allowed certain disadvantaged people to overcome the obstacles that had hindered them to form developing intimate relationships in face-to-face settings.
The absence of gating in virtual relationships means there is a
much wider variety of people
that a person might be able to form a relationship with.
The majority of research is based on
, which may be prone to
social desirability bias
It does not take into account how
gating may effect individuals differently
. E.g. age, attractiveness, gender, sexuality etc.
Self-Disclosure in Virtual Relationships
Schouten et al
found that people high in social anxiety revealed greater self-disclosure in virtual relationships due to the lack of non-verbal cues in online communications.
Using virtual relationships has
as it acts as a
for people who
lack social skills
Self-disclosure in virtual relationships also carries a danger of dishonest people exploiting themselves in order to
so that they can
successfully exploit others
Factors Effecting Attraction
Collins & Miller
found people who engage in intimate disclosures tend to be more liked by others
Altman & Taylor
found that disclosing intimate information at the beginning of a relationship decreased attraction
a lot of research doesn't distinguish between friendships and relationships
The extent to which people reveal intimate information about themselves. It is assumed that greater disclosure leads to greater feelings of intimacy.
Altman & Taylor:
disclosure of personal information is seen as a reward for the other person as it indicates their liking of them.
also suggests that people who disclose personal information to us are seen as likeable, trustworthy and kind.
The matching Hypothesis (Walster et al):
Individuals seek partners most like themselves in terms of attractiveness
This involves assessing their own level of attractiveness and focusing attention on
as they are less likely to be rejected than by someone who has greater physical attractiveness
found that physically attractive people have desirable characteristic, supporting the
Walster & Walster
found students who were paired with someone of similar attractiveness expressed greater liking of their partner
Pasch & Bradbury:
both men & women desire some trustworthy, supportive & warm, and women who are less attractive but posses these qualities do not have less satisfied partners
(Kerckhoff & Davis)
We use filters that narrow down the
'field of availables'
from which we might chose a partner. For example:
factors such as age, location, class religion etc. Plays an important role in the beginning of a relationship
Similarity in attitudes:
if people share the same atttudes, values & beliefs communication is easier and the relationship is more likely to be continued
how well two people fit together as a couple and meet each others need (e.g. one need to be cared for the other needs to care for someone)
of citizens in Ohio were married to someone who originally lived down their street
Tan & Singh
found participants rated strangers with the same values as them as more attractive
claims filter theory is used to rule out wrong relationships, rather than find lasting ones
that similarity of attitudes and complementarity influence progress towards relationships
(lack of research support)
Factors influencing the relationship between disclosure and attraction:
Appropriateness of the Disclosure:
social norms exist as to what information is appropriate to reveal and at what times. People are more attracted to those norms.
Attribution for the Disclosure:
the real reason why a person is disclosing personal information
Women tend to disclose more personal information than men. Therefore, the effect of self-disclosure on attraction is different between men and women
Content of the Disclosure:
The level of intimate information disclosed. Attraction is generally stronger when the content of self-disclosure is appropriate
The Evolutionary Explanation
Criteria for Sexual Selection (mate selection):
attracted to males
with the following characteristics:
Males who are able to
in her and their offspring
Males who are
because they are able to protect her and their offspring (e.g. masculine features such as prominent cheekbones and jawline)
attracted to females
with the following features:
Females who are younger as youth reflects fertility (e.g. big eyes, big lips, small nose etc.)
Females with a
larger waist-hip ratio
as larger hips are associated with fertility (greater reproductive ability)
found that youthfulness was a consistent feature of female attractiveness in the beauty contest winners
Kasser & Sharma
found that women valued protential mates' access to resources far more in those cultures where womens status and educational opportunities were limited, suggesting gender differences might be influenced by cultural traditions
- can't explain homosexual and childless relationships
Women can now be self-reliant
, so no longer have to be attracted to men who can 'protect' them.
Human Reproductive Behaviour:
Males and females use different strategies to attract a mate.
males displaying resources and physical characteristics to demonstrate their potential
Males evolved to be bigger because it has provided them with an adaptive advantage to win the competition against other males
Sexy sons Hypothesis:
Females select attractive males as they will produce sons with the same attractive features, increasing their sons, and thus their own reproductive fitness
females engage in prolonged courtship rituals as they make the males invest time, effort and resources to attract the female, which demonstrates that they will also do so for their offspring
Evolutionary explanations for relationships focus on the
of mating behaviour and partner choices.
Attraction is based on
, which is the
production of healthy offspring
who are then able to reproduce themselves.
The Relationship Between Sexual Selection and Human Reproductive Behaviour:
The natural selection of Characteristics (in a mate) increasing reproductive success
2 types of Sexual Selection:
individuals of the same sex (usually males) must
other members of their sex in order to gain access to
members of the other sex
(usually females). If they're successful, they are able to mate and
pass on their genes
and therefore, the
that helped to secure the mate will be
passed on to the next generation
. Those who lose the competition are unable to pass on their genes.
the preference for desirable qualities in potential mates of the opposite sex. Members of the opposite sex who possess those qualities have a
over those who do not and are
more likely to be selected.
Human reproductive behaviour:
the different mating strategies used by males and females to be chosen as a mate