Psychology - Relationships ( (Kerckhoff & Davis devised a filter…
Psychology - Relationships
Kerckhoff & Davis
devised a filter theory to explain how romantic relationships form and develop.
They created a
field of availables
(in terms of our partner choices) we set on potential romantic partners we can realistically form a relationship with.
They developed three main factors that act as filters to narrow down our range of partner choices to a
field of desirables
Social Demography (1st level of filter)
- This is important for short-term relationships.
There is a wide range of factors that influence our potential partners. Demographics can range from location, social class, proximity or ethnic group.
It is more likely a relationship will form if partners are more similar in their social demographic. This is called
Similarities in attitudes (2nd level of filter)
- This is important for long-term relationships.
Partners seek those who share important beliefs and values. This encourages greater and deeper communication and therefore,
Complementary (3rd level of filter)
- This is important for long-term relationships.
This concerns the ability of partners to meet each others' needs. This level focuses on complementing each other when they have traits the other lacks.
Filter theory suggests people are initially attracted to each other
they are similar (demographically and attitudinal) Anderson found in a longitudinal study that partners became more similar in their emotional response over time, called
Similarly, Davis & Rusbult discovered an
attitude alignment effect
in long-term relationships where over time, their attitudes align with each toher, suggesting that similarity is initial attraction not the cause.
Filter theory assumes key factors in a relationship changes over time which people agree on based their experience in romantic relationships so the theory has
high face validity.
Winch found evidence that the similarities in personality, interests and attitudes between partners are typical in the early stages of a relationship which supports the 2nd level of filter. As well as this, evidence of happily married couples who complimented each other rather than being similar supports the 3rd level of filter.
It's been pointed out that many studies that have formed the basis of filter theory have failed to be replicated due to social changes over time and the difficulties in defining the depth of a relationship in terms of length where Kerckchoff & Davis imposed a 18 month relationship is short-term and from this, assuming long-term relationships were more committed had a deeper relationship. This highlights the problem of applying filter theory to heterosexual couples in a individualist culture.
Evolutionary explanation where attributes/behaviours are passed onto offspring through generations.
- Partner preference you look in a person.
Human Reproductive Behaviour:
Different behaviours that humans exhibit in order to increase their reproductive success.
- To show possible partners your own attributes.
Anisogamy [an umbrella term]:
This refers to the difference between male and female sex cells (
). - There are two gametes.
Extremely small, highly mobile and doesn't require much effort to produce.
Large, static, limited number of fertile energy and requires a lot of energy to produce.
A consequence for anisogamy: there are no shortages in male gametes but are limited and "rare" for female gametes.
emphasises how females make greater investments in their time, energy and commitment to finding a potential partner due to their limited female gametes to reproduce. It is in the bioprogram in a female to nurture their offspring with one partner whilst males wish to reproduce a lot so their genes are carried out.
Preferred strategy for females; quality over quantity.
Preferred strategy for males; quantity over quality.
carried out a survey over 10,000 adults in 33 countries in which questions were asked about age and attributes that evolutionary theory believes should be important in partner preference.
Findings showed that females placed greater value in financial prospects and ambition whereas males preferred good looks, chastity and for their partner to be younger.
This, therefore, supports sexual selection theory. As well as this, it can be applied through vastly different cultures which show partner preference aren't influenced upon culture. We have a universal concept of our partner preference according to males and females.
Research from Clark and Hatfield support inter-sexual selection. Their research showed females are choosier in heterosexual relationships. This involved male and female university psychology students to ask other students in their campus, "I find you very attractive, would you go to bed with me?" where findings showed all females answered no in contrast to the 75% of males who said yes. This demonstrates males having a innate drive to ensure reproductive success.
Ignores social and cultural influences. Partner preferences have been influenced greatly by changing social norms and social behaviour. Bereczkei et al argue that women's partner preference may no longer look for financial support in a potential partner due to their working and earning money themselves. Male preferences are therefore influenced by evolution and cultural influences which is not further explained in any theory.
Social Penetration Theory: Self-Disclosure
Self-disclosure involves revealing personal information about yourself to another person in order to built trust in a relationship. This essentially helps us to understand our partner more and help the relationship to grow and develop in the long-run.
Social Penetration Theory:
Altman & Dalmas:
Self-disclosure is the gradual process of revealing your inner self to someone where it involves the
mutual and reciprocal exchange of information.
Altman & Dalmas states that self-disclosure has two elements:
breadth and depth.
The breadth of disclosure is narrow due to many topics being "off-limits" in early stages of the relationship. As the relationship develops, self-disclosure becomes deeper as we reveal our true selves - concerning those things that matter most.
Reciprocity of Self-disclosure:
Reis & Shaver
said that there needs to be a reciprocal element of self-disclosure which can increase intimacy and deepens the relationship.
There is research support for social penetration theory. This involved writing a daily diary where they found self-disclosure in a relationship/partner were linked to higher levels of intimacy in long-term married couples. This contrasted to less intimate couples who self-disclosed less often. This increases validity of self-disclosure in social penetration theory.
There is a real-life application to social penetration theory where a study found 57% of gay men and women maintained an intimate relationship when self-disclosing. Those who don't self-disclosure can learn and deepen commitment and intimacy in future relationships. The real-life application shows the value of self-disclosure playing an important role when relationships develop.
Physical attractiveness is an important factor in forming a relationship.
Psychologists found that people with
are rated more attractive as it's a signal of genetic fitness. People
(baby-face) features such as widely separated eyes, delicate chin and a small nose. This signals protective and caring instincts which is a valuable resource for females wanting to reproduce.
Evidence found initial attractiveness brought partners together after several years.
The Halo Effect:
The belief that good-looking people project positive qualities, for instance, kind, sociable and successful in comparison to unattractive people. This leads us to behave positively towards those who are considered more attractive - a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The Matching Hypothesis:
states that people choose romantic partners who are roughly of similar attractiveness to themselves. This implies that we take into account our own level of attractiveness when seeking a romantic partner.
There is research support for the Halo Effect. Palmer & Peterson found physical attractive people were rated as more politically knowledgeable and competent in comparison to those who are unattractive.
What's considered physically attractive is consistent throughout collective and individualist cultures.
found that female features of large eyes, prominent cheekbones and small nose were rated highly attractive by White, Hispanic and Asian males. Other psychologists also found Korean and American students judged physical attractiveness to be more trustworthy, mature and friendly. This shows stereotype is just as strong in collectivist and individualist cultures.
Social Exchange Theory
Rewards, costs and profits:
This is about Kelley's economic theory, predicting that people want a profit in a relationship and try to
(e.g. comfort) and
(e.g. jealousy), however, this is subjective because some can perceive rewards as costs and vice versa.
Comparison Level (CL):
This is the amount of reward you believe you deserve to receive.
This develops as it feeds expectations from past relationships to current ones.
Self-esteem: low profit from the relationship whereas high self-esteem is the belief they are worth more.
A theory of how relationships form & develop, assuming romantic partners act out of self-interest in the exchange of rewards + costs.
Comparison level for Alternatives (CLalt):
This predicts that
we will only stay in our current relationship as long as we believe it's more rewarding than the alternatives
- it depends on the state of our current relationship. If the costs outweigh the rewards, the alternatives become more attractive. However, being in a satisfying relationship means you may not notice alternatives available.
Stages of Relationship Development:
- Sampling stage:
we explore the rewards & costs of social exchange theory by experimenting with our own relationship or observing others.
- Bargaining stage:
Partners exchanging rewards & costs, negotiating and identifying what's most profitable
- Commitment stage:
Source of rewards & costs becomes more predictable + relationship becomes stable as rewards increase and costs lessen.
- Institutionalisation stage:
The terms of rewards & costs firmly established.
Many researchers disagree with the economic metaphor of SET as it doesn't consider relationships that don't involve the exchange of rewards & costs. For example, relationships with colleagues.
SET ignores equality and highlights importance on comparison. This neglected factor means SET is an incomplete or inaccurate explanation due to much research that supports the significance of equity in a relationship (equity theory).
The direction of cause & effect is blurred. SET claims that dissatisfaction sets in when costs outweigh rewards but it's argued that we do not measure rewards. costs or alternatives unless we are dissatisfied.
Sexual selection + Human Reproductive Behaviour