Outline and Evaluate Two Theories of
Relationship Formation (24 marks)
Byrne and Clores Reward/Need Satisfaction theory states that we will become attracted to a partner based on how that person makes us feel. Mutual attraction will occur when each partner meets the others' needs. Stimuli in our lives can usually be seen as rewarding or punishing, rewarding stimuli making us happy and punishing stimuli having the opposite effect. We can also be attracted to someone through association of events. We are more likely to like someone if we were in a good mood when we met them, for example. Through the process of Classical Conditioning, a neutral stimulus can become positively valued due to its' association with a pleasant event. Byrne and Clore thought that a balance of feelings was vitally important in the formation of a relationship, with relationships having a higher chance of developing where positive feelings outweigh the negatives. Using Social Learning Theory, we can understand that relationships can be formed through the process of Operant Conditioning, because we will want to stay with a person who gives us rewarding stimuli. This is further supported through the physiological research of Aron et al (2005) who suggested that there is increased activity in areas of the brain rich in the neurotransmitter Dopamine, which is associated with feelings of happiness. However, this theory does not account for cultural or gender differences in the formation of relationships. Lott (1994) suggested that predominantly women seek more for the needs of other people over acquiring reinforcement. Another weakness of this theory is that it lacks mundane realism. The majority of the research carried out for the theory was conducted in laboratories; they cannot necessarily be applied to real-life principles of need, satisfaction or similarity. Another limitation of the theory is that it only explores the basic concept of receiving rewards, but Hays (1985) suggested that...
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