Outline and Evaluate the Formation of Romantic Relationships (25 Marks)

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A relationship can be defined as an encounter with another person or with people that endure through time. Two different theories have been proposed; the Reward/Need Satisfaction theory and the Similarity theory.

If asked why someone is attracted to their partner, they might say because their partner is attentive, supportable and caring. This theory proposes we seek positive stimuli and avoid punishing stimuli; this is because positive stimuli produces positive feelings. Support for this theory comes from Griffit and Guay (1969), participants were evaluated on a creative task by an experimenter and then asked to rate how much they had liked the experimenter; this rating was highest when the experimenter positively evaluated the participants on the task. This study could, however, produce demand characteristics.

Another component of the reward theory is proximity; this can be defined as physical or geographical closeness which represents a requirement for attraction. Festinger (1950) showed the importance of proximity and frequency of interaction. He found that students living in campus accommodation were most friendly with their neighbours and least friendly with students at end the end of their corridor. Also, on any floor, people who lived next to the stairwell were more likely to have more friends than those living mid-corridor. This supports the hypothesis that ‘the further apart two people live, the less likely they are able to meet, or even date’. However, this only applies to the real world, due to the improved communications in recent years, such as the internet, there is now no limit on who you can possibly meet, and even date. Evidence for this is shown through Facebook use; Sheldon et al (2011) study discovered that greater facebook use was positively correlated with positive and negative indicators of relationship satisfaction.

The reward/need satisfaction theory does not account for cultural and gender differences in the formation of...
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