Discuss Theories and Explanations for the Dissolution of Relationships

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The dissolution of relationships
Duck suggested that there are predisposing factors that lead to relationship dissolution, one of which includes a lack of skills. An example could be applied to poor conversationalists- their lack of interpersonal skills may be interpreted by their partners as them being uninterested in the relationship, causing it to break down. A lack of stimulation may also cause relationship breakdown. In terms of social exchange theory, this could be explained by one or both of the individuals experiencing a lack of satisfaction, therefore less reward. Baxter supports this reason, claiming that a relationship which has stopped developing causes the reward – cost ratio to lean towards a lack of rewards, and so costs may outweigh. It can be assumed that such relationships have plateaued, with the lack of change preventing the relationship from going any further. Maintenance difficulties are also thought to play a role, identified by Shaver. Close contact is needed to maintain a relationship, meaning that the relationship needs attention from each partner in order to continue thriving. Going away to university, for example, places a great strain on existing relationships and is often responsible for their dissolution. Personality has been shown to be an important factor in relationship breakup, providing some support for the concept of social skills being a factor. Graziano et al found that relationships where one or both of the couple are high in neuroticism are more likely to end in divorce. Similarly, individuals who are high in agreeableness (co-operative, supportive and non-confrontational) tend to be in relationships which have less conflict and are longer lasting.

A lot of research into relationship breakdown such as Graziano et al’s is hampered by various factors however, such as observer bias and the use of imposed practices (such as the use of Western questionnaires to assess attitudes to relationships). Another weakness is...
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