Outline and Evaluate One Theory of the Formation of Romantic Relationships (4+8 Marks)

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The reward/ need satisfaction theory (RNS) was devised by Byron & Clore (1970) to explain the formation of romantic relationships, based on the principles of behavioral psychology. According to the theory, people form relationships with those who are most rewarding/ satisfying to be with which happens through conditioning. The elements of Skinner's operant conditioning proposes that we repeat behaviors with positive outcomes (rewards) and avoid those with negative outcomes (punishments). Relationships positively reinforce by our partner satisfying our needs/rewarding us (through love or attention), but negative reinforcement also plays a part in the likelihood of formation as a relationship avoid us feeling lonely which both result in us seeking further contact with them thus forming a relationship.

The theory also suggests that we may associate a person with positive feelings due to the even in which they meet; this is called classical conditioning. This form of conditioning involves pairing a neutral stimulus with an unconditioned stimulus to create a conditioned response, for example being at a party (NS) and feeling happy (UCR), then meeting a person (UCS) and associating this stimuli (now CS)with the happy feelings to create a CR of happiness whenever in their presence and we want to be with the person that makes us most happy, thus forming a relationship.

An issue raised surrounding the RNS theory is that it fails to consider free will. It suggests that without rewards a relationship will not form however evidence from modern relationships argues otherwise, for example a rewards and satisfaction is given in one night stands, yet no relationship is formed, plus no association can be made through cyber relationships because the couple have not met, yet a relationship still manages to form. This evidence goes against the theory suggesting that other factors such as similarity, opportunity and our own choices play a role in relationship formation thus

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