Psychology - Relationships ~ continuation (Rusbult's Investment Model:…
Psychology - Relationships ~ continuation
This theory was developed in response to Social Exchange Theory
which explained maximising rewards + reducing costs but
SET fails to recognise equity in a relationship.
The Role of Equity:
claimed that what matters most is equity in the level of profit. Where there is a lack of equity, one partner over benefits and the other under benefits which can lead to dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Therefore, equity achieves satisfaction in a relationship.
Equity & Equality:
Equity theory focuses on the ratio of rewards and costs. E.g. if one person puts a lot in a relationship but gets a lot out of it, this is fair. It disregards the amount of rewards and costs which SET does.
Consequence of Inequity:
Problems arise when one person puts a great deal in a relationship but gets little in return. Equity theory predicts a strong correlation between the partner who is subjected to inequity for a long period of time (becoming more distressed and dissatisfied) and the greater perceived inequity, the greater dissatisfaction.
Changes in Perceived Equity:
What makes us more dissatisfied is a change in the level of perceived equity as time goes on. E.g. when the relationship develops and you still don't receive much out of it, it's not as satisfying as it was in the beginning.
Dealing with inequity:
The more unfair the relationship feels, the harder they will work to restore equity (another strong correlation). On the other hand, partners can react to inequity in a cognitive approach rather behavioural, E.g. to revise perceptions if rewards & costs so the relationship feels more equitable to them. What's once seen as cost is accepted as a norm (e.g. untidiness, abuse).
There is supporting evidence that equity theory is more valid that SET in studies of real-life relationships. A survey was carried out of 118 recently married couples to measure equity with two self-report scales. Researchers found couples who believed their relationship was equitable, were more satisfied than those who saw themselves
Equity theory assumes equity is a universal feature in a relationship. However, researchers found that there is a cultural difference in the link between equity and satisfaction. Researchers compared couples in an individualist culture and collectivist culture. Couples from individualist culture were more satisfied if the relationship was equitable in contrast to collectivist when they were more satisfied when over-benefiting (this applied to both men and women). This limits equity theory as an explanation as it cannot account for this cultural difference.
Not all partners are concerned in achieving equity as some people are less sensitive to equity than others.
Prepared to contribute more in a relationship than they get out of it.
Believe they deserve to be over-benefited & accept it without distress/guilt which shows that equity is not a universal law of social interaction.
Duck's Phase Model:
a model of a relationship breakdown
where he argues that the ending of a relationship takes time. He identifies this through four distinct phases:
A cognitive process; the dissatisfied partner reasons for his/her dissatisfaction and weighs up the pros+cons of the relationship and evaluates the alternatives.
Interpersonal processes between the two partners. A series of confrontations overtime in which the relationship is discussed and dissatisfaction is spoken about. These are characterised by anxiety, hostility, complaints about the lack of equity, resentment over imbalanced roles and rethinking the commitment with their partner. There are two outcomes:
determination to break-up
a renewed desire to repair the relationship
Wider processes involving the couple's social network. Break-up is made publically where partners will seek support and expect mutual friends to pick sides.
The focus on this phase is on the aftermath. Partners will create a favourable story for the public in order to save face and maintain a positive reputation. As well as this, the traits in their past partner that was once initially admired are now portrayed negatively.
Rollie and Duck criticised the original model to be oversimplified so they modified it to by adding the fifth phase after grave-dressing called the
- This is when the ex-partners turn their attention to future relationships using the experience gained from the recently ended one.
Rollie and Duck also made it clear that the model isn't always going to follow the linear stages. It can always move back a stage, for example.
There is a methodological issue due to most of the research of Duck's being
- participants give their experiences of their break-up some time after the relationship has ended. This means it cannot always be an accurate or reliable recollection of the relationship. The early stages following the break-up particularly, tend to be distorted or perhaps ignored.
Duck's Phase Model is useful in real-life application as it not only helps to identify and understand the stages of a relationship breakdown but also suggests various ways of reversing it. It recognises different repair strategies which are more effective at particular points in the breakdown.
A feature of the Dyadic Phase is communication so any attempts to improve this can attempt to improve the stability of a relationship.
Rusbult's Investment Model:
Commitment depends on three factors: satisfaction levels, comparison with alternatives and investment size.
Satisfaction is based on the concept of the comparison level - for example, if someone gets more out of a relationship based on the increased awards and decreased costs, then satisfaction level would be better than expected based on previous experience from past relationships.
Comparison with alternatives include the possibility of having no romantic relationship at all.
This refers to the extent and importance of the resources associated with the relationship. An investment could be understood as anything we could lose if the relationship were to end. e.g. family, house (mortgage)
Rusbult argues that there are two major types of investment:
- Intrinsic investment (what out directly into a relationship):
Tangible things like money & possessions as well as intangible things like energy, emotion and self-disclosures.
Extrinsic Investments (didn't feature the relationship but are now associated with it):
Tangible possessions e.g. shared car, shared memories or mutual friends.
If there are high levels of satisfaction then the alternatives are less attractive. - we can then confidently predict partners will be committed to the relationships.
Rusbult argues that the main psychological factor that causes people to stay in romantic relationships isn't satisfaction but commitment. This could explain abusive/unhealthy relationships. It's because they have made an investment in a relationship they don't want to go to waste so instead they will work hard to maintain and repair the damaged relationship.
Relationship maintenance mechanisms:
Commitment is expressed in everyday maintenance behaviour. According to the model, partners act to promote the relationship. For example, they will put their partner's interest first (willingness to sacrifice) and forgive them for any wrongdoings (forgiveness). There's also a cognitive element as partners also think about each other.
There is supporting evidence from a meta-analysis. They found that satisfaction, comparison with alternatives and investment size are all predicted in relationship commitment.They found the greater the commitment, the longer the relationship would last for. The findings supported men and women across all cultures as well as for homosexual and heterosexual relationships. This display validity and universality.
It's a valid and useful model that aims to explain abusive relationships. Psychologists studies women at a shelter and found those who are more likely to return to an abusive partner (i.e. most committed) reported making the greatest investment and having fewer attractive alternatives.
Rubult's model is a limited explanation for romantic relationships because it fails to recognise the complexities of investment, particularly how planning the future can influence the level of commitment in a relationship. This model has been criticised for this and instead, has been extended by including the investment in a
relationship's future plans.
Virtual Relationships in Social Media:
Self-Disclosure in Virtual Relationships:
Face-to-face (FtF) relationships find self-disclosure a crucial part in the 'offline' world. There are two major and contrasting theories.
Reduced Cue Theory:
CMC relationships (online) are less effective than FtF relationships because they lack many of the cues we normally depend on FtF interactions. These included nonverbal cues such as physical appearance as well as emotional state: facial expression and tone of voice. This can lead to reducing people's sense of individual identity, which in turn encourages disinhibition in relating to others. Virtual relationships can involve blunt & aggressive communication. e.g. one can be more unlikely to initiate a relationship with someone who is impersonal or reluctant to reveal their emotions.
The Hyperpersonal Model:
Walther argues that CMC relationships
be more personal and involve greater self-disclosure than FtF. This is because CMC relationships can self-disclose more quickly and earlier in the relationship in comparison to FtF and once established, they are more intense and intimate. However, they can end quicker because of the high level of excitement of the interaction level is not balanced or matched with the trust within the relationship. According to this model, the sender of the message has more time to manipulate their online image than they are able to do in an FtF. Walther calls this sensitive
. People online have more control over what to disclose and the cues they send (e.g. emojis) - It's easier to manipulate self-disclosure to promote the intimacy as they can present themselves in an idealised and positive image.
Absence of gating in virtual relationships:
FtF relationships often fail to form because of obstacles 'gates' such as facial disfigurement that some find off-putting. These 'gates', however, are absent in CMC relationships which allow CMC relationships to begin in a way they can't in the offline world.
There is a lack of research support for reduced cues theory. The theory is wrong to suggest that nonverbal cues are entirely missing from CMC. It's different rather than absent. People in online interactions use other cues such as styles and timing of their messages. Other online communications such as emojis and short phrases are effective substitutes for facial expressions and tone of voice that is present in FtF relationships. This shows that CMC relationships can be just as personal as FtF due to these increasing online communications.
A study supports the prediction that CMC are more motivated to disclose than FtF. Research carries out questions online where discussions tended to be very direct and intimate whereas FtF had more "small talk". These findings support the central statement of the model: disclosing in CMC is quicker in order for the formation of the relationship to develop faster.
There are different platforms CMC relationships can develop which should be taken into consideration. Online dating, for example, has the expectation of future meetings (developing into a FtF relationship) whereas gaming sites and chatrooms do not. Any theory that approaches CMC as a single concepts neglect its richness and variety and is, therefore, unlikely to be a completely valid explanation.
Unreciprocated relationships, usually with a celebrity which a 'fan' expands a lot of emotional energy, commitment and time on.
Levels of Parasocial relationships:
Entertainment-social: least intense level of celebrity worship. Celebrities are viewed as a source of entertainment and fuel of social interaction.
Intense-personal: Intermediate level which reflects a greater personal involvement for the celebrity.
Borderline pathological: Strongest level of celebrity worship featuring uncontrollable fantasises and extreme behaviours.
The Absorption-addiction model:
This explains the tendency to form parasocial relationships in terms of deficiencies people have in their own lives e.g. weak sense of self-identity & self-fulfilment in everyday relationships. Parasocial relationships allow them to 'escape from reality' or a way in finding fulfilment they lack from real relationships.
Absorption-addiction model has two components:
: To become pre-occupied in the existence of the celebrity and to identify with them.
: Striving after a stronger involvement which is done by closer commitment to the celebrity.
The attachment theory explanation:
Various psychologists have suggested that there is a tendency to form parasocial relationships in adolescence and adulthood because of attachment difficulties in early childhood.
There is support for the absorption-addiction model from a study that investigated the link between celebrity worship and body image in females aged 14-16 years. Females reported an intense-personal parasocial relationship with a female celebrity whose body shape they admired. They found that the females tended to have poor body image and speculated the link/development of an eating disorder, anorexia nervosa (AN). This supports the model due to the correlation between the type and intensity of celebrity worship and poor psychological functioning.
Problems with attachment theory. Psychologist measured attachment types and celebrity-related attitude in 229 participants (small quantity) where they found the participants with insecure attachment were not more likely to form parasocial relationships with celebrities than participants with secure attachment. This finding fails to support the central prediction of attachment theory which results into raising doubts and the validity of the theory.
(-)EVALUATION: Methodological Issues:
Most research studies on parasocial relationships use self-report methods e.g. online questionnaires which can have multiple effect that can bias the findings as participants may respond in ways they believe will enhance social statues (social desirability).
Most studies use correlation analysis so cause-and-effect isn't clear unless a longitudital study us carries out which is lacking in this topic. e.g. the conclusion that intense-personal
poor body image is unjustifiable/inaccurate.