Theories of Romantic Relationships (Relationships Model Answers) (Paper 3 Model Answers)
Describe Duck’s phase model of relationship breakdown.( 4 marks)
Duck's phase model of relationship breakdown outlines the stages that individuals typically go through when a romantic relationship comes to an end. The model consists of four phases: intra-psychic, dyadic, social, and grave-dressing.
In the intra-psychic phase, individuals internally evaluate their dissatisfaction and contemplate the possibility of ending the relationship. They experience negative emotions and thoughts, such as doubts and frustrations.
The dyadic phase involves open communication about the relationship issues. Conflicts and arguments arise as the individuals attempt to address and resolve their concerns. Tension and conflict increase during this phase.
In the social phase, individuals seek support and validation from their social networks. They may confide in friends, family, or seek professional advice to gain external perspectives and evaluate the relationship's viability.
The grave-dressing phase focuses on the process of separation and emotional recovery. Individuals seek closure, make sense of the breakup, and reconstruct their identities as single individuals. They develop narratives about the relationship and establish a sense of closure.
Which one of the following best describes social exchange theory?(1 mark)
Shade one box only.
C A theory that proposes individuals focus on getting out more than they put in.
In a study of filter theory, a psychology student used a group of female participants. Each participant was shown two descriptions.
• Description 1 described a man with a similar social background to that of the female participants.
• Description 2 described a man with a different social background to that of the female participants.
Discuss the filter theory of attraction. Refer to the likely outcome of the student’s study in your answer. ( 8 marks)
Filter theory, proposed by Kerckhoff and Davis, suggests that individuals are attracted to potential romantic partners who pass through a series of filters based on social demographic, similarity, and complementarity. These filters narrow down the pool of available partners and increase the likelihood of attraction and relationship formation.
In the study described, the psychology student examined the impact of social background similarity on attraction, which aligns with the filter theory's emphasis on social demographic filter. According to filter theory, individuals are more likely to be attracted to others who share a similar social background, such as education, occupation, or cultural values. This similarity provides a sense of familiarity and shared experiences, increasing the potential for compatibility and long-term relationship success.
Based on the filter theory, it is likely that the student's study would find that participants showed a higher level of attraction toward the description that matched their own social background. This outcome would support the idea that social demographic similarity acts as a filter in the attraction process. The participants would perceive the man with a similar social background as more relatable and compatible, increasing their likelihood of being attracted to him.
It is important to note that filter theory suggests that similarity is just one of several filters that influence attraction. Other factors, such as physical attractiveness, personality traits, and emotional compatibility, also play a role in determining attraction and relationship formation. While social background similarity may increase initial attraction, it does not guarantee the success or longevity of a relationship, as other filters and factors come into play in the later stages of relationship development.
An additional discussion point regarding the filter theory of attraction is the challenge of establishing causality. While the study described examined the impact of social background similarity on attraction, it is important to recognize that correlation does not imply causation. The findings of the study may indicate a higher level of attraction toward individuals with a similar social background, but it does not necessarily prove that social background similarity directly causes attraction.
Outline Rusbult’s model of romantic relationships. Explain one or more strength(s) of Rusbult’s model.( 8 marks)
Rusbult's model of romantic relationships, known as the Investment Model, extends social exchange theory by considering the role of commitment in sustaining a relationship. According to Rusbult, commitment depends on three factors: satisfaction, alternatives, and investments. Satisfaction is determined by the perception of available alternatives, where better alternatives lead to less satisfaction. Investments, both intrinsic and extrinsic, act as deterrents to leaving a relationship. Intrinsic investments include resources like emotions and efforts put into the relationship, while extrinsic investments include factors arising from the relationship, such as children, mutual friends, and shared possessions.
One strength of Rusbult's model is the extensive use of empirical evidence to support its propositions. Studies such as Rhatigan and Axsom (2006) found that women who had made fewer investments in their relationships were less satisfied, highlighting the role of investment in relationship satisfaction. Similarly, research by Le and Agnew (2003) demonstrated the importance of satisfaction, alternatives, and investment in predicting commitment. Moreover, Rusbult's model has also been validated in various types of relationships, including homosexual couples, as shown by Rusbult (1998). This empirical support enhances the credibility and generalisability of the model.
Another strength of Rusbult's model is its ability to explain why individuals stay in relationships that may appear to offer few rewards. The model recognises that factors beyond immediate rewards, such as investments and alternatives, influence individuals' decisions to remain committed. This aspect of the model aligns with real-life observations where individuals may choose to stay in relationships despite facing challenges or dissatisfaction. By considering the broader context of the relationship and the potential costs associated with leaving, Rusbult's model provides a more comprehensive understanding of the complexities of commitment and relationship longevity.
Describe and evaluate the social exchange theory of romantic relationships.
(Total 16 marks)
The social exchange theory of romantic relationships proposes that individuals engage in relationships based on a cost-benefit analysis, where they weigh the rewards and costs associated with the relationship. According to this theory, people are motivated to maximise their rewards and minimise their costs, and they engage in relationships that offer a net positive outcome. Key concepts of the theory include rewards, costs, the comparison level (CL), and the comparison level for alternatives (CLalt). Rewards refer to the positive aspects of the relationship, such as emotional support and companionship, while costs encompass the negative aspects, such as time and effort invested. The CL represents an individual's expectations for what they deserve in a relationship based on past experiences and social norms, while the CLalt reflects the comparison between the current relationship and potential alternatives or being single.
One strength of the social exchange theory is its ability to account for individual differences in attraction and relationship formation. The theory acknowledges that different people may perceive rewards and costs differently based on their unique preferences, needs, and values. For example, one person may prioritise emotional intimacy and support as rewarding aspects of a relationship, while another may value material resources or social status. This flexibility allows for a more nuanced understanding of why individuals are attracted to certain partners and enter into specific relationships. The social exchange theory recognises that attraction and relationship formation are not one-size-fits-all processes but are shaped by individual variations in perceptions of rewards and costs.
However, one limitation of the social exchange theory is its assumption that individuals make rational and calculated decisions about romantic relationships. Critics argue that the theory oversimplifies the complexity of human emotions and motivations by reducing them to economic calculations. In reality, people's choices and actions in romantic relationships are often influenced by factors beyond a rational cost-benefit analysis. Love, passion, and emotional connection can play significant roles in relationship decisions, and these subjective experiences may not align with a purely rational decision-making framework. Additionally, the theory's focus on rewards and costs may overlook the role of social and cultural factors in shaping attraction and relationship formation. Factors such as societal norms, cultural values, and family expectations can influence individuals' choices and preferences, which may not always align with a strict cost-benefit analysis. Thus, while the social exchange theory provides valuable insights into the dynamics of romantic relationships, it should be viewed as a partial explanation that may not capture the full complexity of human behavior in this domain.
Briefly outline what is meant by ‘equity’ in relation to theories of romantic relationships. ( 2 marks)
Equity in relation to theories of romantic relationships refers to a sense of fairness and balance in the give-and-take dynamics of the relationship. It suggests that individuals strive for a state of equal contributions and benefits within the relationship, where both partners feel that their efforts and rewards are proportional and equitable.
Barbara and Jamima are both having relationship difficulties with their respective partners.
Barbara says, ‘I’m really fed up and I wish the relationship was over. But I can’t tell him, because he thinks everything is fine.’
Jamima says, ‘We are getting through it slowly. We’ve told the children what’s going to happen to them and sorted out the money side. My mum was upset but she’s OK about it now. Friends take sides of course.’
Referring to Barbara’s and Jamima’s comments, outline two phases of relationship breakdown proposed by Duck. ( 4 marks)
Barbara's statement reflects the intrapsychic phase of relationship breakdown as proposed by Duck. During this phase, individuals experience a growing dissatisfaction and frustration within the relationship, leading them to contemplate the possibility of ending it. Barbara expresses her discontent and desire for the relationship to be over, indicating her internal struggles and emotional turmoil. However, she also mentions that she cannot openly communicate her feelings to her partner, suggesting a lack of mutual awareness about the problems in their relationship.
On the other hand, Jamima's statement corresponds to the social phase of relationship breakdown. In this phase, individuals start to involve external parties and address the practical aspects of the breakup. Jamima mentions that they have informed their children about the upcoming changes and have made arrangements regarding financial matters. She also acknowledges the involvement of friends who may take sides, indicating the social impact of the relationship difficulties. The focus in this phase shifts from internal contemplation to external actions and interactions, as individuals begin to navigate the consequences and support networks associated with the breakdown of the relationship.
Investment is one feature of the investment model of relationships. Identify one other feature of the investment model of relationships. ( 1 mark)
One other feature of the investment model of relationships is the concept of satisfaction, which refers to the level of contentment and fulfillment individuals experience in their relationship.
Which one of the following sequences shows the correct order of Duck’s phases of relationship breakdown? ( 1 mark)
Shade one box only.
Name and outline one stage of Duck’s phase model of relationship breakdown.( 3 marks)
One stage of Duck's phase model of relationship breakdown is the intrapsychic phase. During this stage, individuals start to privately assess their dissatisfaction with the relationship and consider the costs and benefits of staying or leaving. They may experience feelings of frustration, disappointment, and resentment as they contemplate the possibility of ending the relationship. This internal evaluation often precedes any overt expression of discontent to the partner.
Outline and evaluate the social exchange theory of relationships.
(Total 8 marks)
The social exchange theory of relationships proposes that individuals engage in relationships based on a cost-benefit analysis. According to this theory, individuals weigh the rewards they receive from the relationship against the costs they incur, with the aim of maximizing their rewards and minimising their costs. This theory also emphasizes the importance of comparison levels, which refer to the expectations individuals have about the outcomes they deserve in a relationship based on their past experiences and social norms. Additionally, the theory highlights the role of comparison levels for alternatives, which involve considering the potential rewards and costs of alternative relationships or being single.
One strength of the social exchange theory is its recognition that different people perceive rewards and costs differently, allowing for individual differences in attraction. This acknowledges that individuals have unique preferences, values, and priorities, which can influence their evaluation of the rewards and costs in a relationship. By considering individual differences, the theory offers a more comprehensive understanding of why individuals are attracted to certain partners and how they assess the quality of their relationships.
However, a limitation of the social exchange theory is its assumption that individuals make rational and calculating decisions about pursuing relationships. In reality, emotions, unconscious processes, and social influences can heavily impact relationship decisions, often deviating from purely rational calculations. People may be drawn to relationships based on emotions, chemistry, or other non-economic factors that the social exchange theory may not fully account for. Additionally, the theory's focus on the exchange of rewards and costs may overlook other important aspects of relationships, such as emotional connection, intimacy, and shared values, which can greatly influence individuals' satisfaction and commitment. Therefore, while the social exchange theory provides valuable insights into the cost-benefit analysis of relationships, it should be considered alongside other theories and factors that shape the complexity of human relationships.
Outline and evaluate one theory of the maintenance of romantic relationships.
(Total 16 marks)
One theory of the maintenance of romantic relationships is the Investment Model. This model, proposed by Rusbult, suggests that three key factors contribute to relationship maintenance: satisfaction, investment, and the availability of alternatives. Satisfaction refers to the individual's overall happiness and contentment in the relationship, while investment includes both intrinsic (emotional, time, effort) and extrinsic (shared possessions, joint activities) resources. The model proposes that individuals who are more satisfied, have higher investments, and perceive fewer attractive alternatives are more likely to remain committed and maintain their relationships. Moreover, commitment is seen as a crucial element in relationship maintenance, acting as a buffer against potential relationship threats.
The Investment Model of relationship maintenance offers several advantages over the Social Exchange Theory. While the Social Exchange Theory focuses on the cost-benefit analysis and the weighing of rewards and costs, the Investment Model emphasises the role of investments and the perception of alternatives in determining relationship commitment. The Investment Model recognises that individuals consider not only the current benefits and costs but also the future potential of the relationship and the potential gains or losses associated with leaving it. By considering investments and alternatives, the Investment Model provides a more comprehensive understanding of the factors that influence relationship maintenance.
Another strength of the Investment Model is its recognition of individual differences in relationship maintenance. The model acknowledges that different individuals may have varying levels of investments, satisfaction, and perceived alternatives, which can shape their commitment to the relationship. This accounts for the diversity in people's experiences, values, and priorities, and allows for a more nuanced understanding of relationship maintenance. Additionally, the model acknowledges that people may have different thresholds for what constitutes a satisfactory level of investment, satisfaction, and the perceived availability of alternatives. Therefore, the Investment Model provides a framework that can accommodate and explain the variability in relationship maintenance observed across individuals.
Finally, One limitation of the Investment Model of relationship maintenance is that the majority of research conducted has been from a Western perspective, which may limit its generalisability to other cultural contexts. By predominantly focusing on Western samples and ignoring factors relevant to less developed societies, gender differences, and biases, the model may overlook important cultural nuances that influence relationship maintenance. Additionally, the neglect of diverse cultural perspectives raises ethical concerns regarding the application of the model's findings to different populations. Future research should aim to address these limitations by incorporating diverse cultural perspectives, considering gender differences, and conducting socially sensitive research to ensure a more comprehensive understanding of relationship maintenance across different societies and contexts.
Outline and evaluate one theory of the formation of romantic relationships.
(Total 16 marks)
The social exchange theory is a psychological theory that explains the formation of romantic relationships based on the concept of cost and reward. According to this theory, individuals engage in relationships that provide them with more rewards than costs. The formation of romantic relationships is seen as a rational decision-making process where individuals weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks of being in a relationship with a particular person. The theory proposes that individuals seek relationships that maximise their rewards and minimise their costs, with rewards being positive aspects such as love, companionship, and emotional support, and costs referring to negative aspects like time, effort, and sacrifices.
One strength of the social exchange theory is its ability to explain individual differences in relationship formation. The theory acknowledges that people have different perceptions of rewards and costs, and therefore, what may be rewarding for one person may not be the same for another. This accounts for the diversity in attraction and relationship preferences among individuals. For example, some individuals may prioritise emotional intimacy and companionship as the most important rewards in a relationship, while others may value financial stability or physical attractiveness. By considering individual differences in the evaluation of rewards and costs, the theory provides a more nuanced understanding of why people form relationships with specific individuals.
However, one limitation of the social exchange theory is that it assumes individuals always make rational and calculated decisions regarding relationship formation. In reality, emotions, chemistry, and other non-rational factors also play a significant role in the development of romantic relationships. People often form connections based on initial attraction and emotional compatibility, which may not necessarily align with a rational cost-benefit analysis. Additionally, the theory does not fully capture the complex dynamics of love and romantic feelings, as it primarily focuses on the exchange of rewards and costs. Love involves a wide range of emotions and experiences that go beyond a simple calculation of gains and losses.
Furthermore, the social exchange theory has been criticised for its limited cultural and contextual applicability. The majority of research on the theory has been conducted in Western societies, which may not fully capture the cultural variations in relationship formation. Cultural norms, values, and expectations differ across societies, influencing the perceived rewards and costs of relationships. Moreover, the theory overlooks the role of power dynamics in relationships, as it primarily focuses on individual gains and losses without considering issues of inequality, gender roles, or societal structures. This highlights the need to consider broader socio-cultural factors when examining the formation of romantic relationships.
Describe and evaluate two or more theories of the formation of romantic relationships.
(Total 16 marks)
The social exchange theory proposes that the formation of romantic relationships is driven by individuals' desire to maximise rewards and minimise costs. It views relationships as a type of economic exchange, where individuals engage in a cost-benefit analysis. Rewards in relationships include emotional support, companionship, and shared experiences, while costs refer to the effort, time, and sacrifices involved. The theory suggests that people are more likely to enter into and maintain relationships that offer higher rewards and lower costs, as they are perceived as more favourable outcomes.
The equity theory on the other hand emphasises the importance of fairness and equity in romantic relationships. It posits that individuals seek fairness in the distribution of rewards and costs in their relationships. According to this theory, people strive for a state of balance and equality, where the rewards and costs are proportionate between partners. If there is an imbalance, individuals may experience feelings of guilt, resentment, or dissatisfaction. The theory suggests that individuals are motivated to restore equity by adjusting their contributions or seeking changes in the relationship to ensure a fair exchange.
One strength of the social exchange theory is its ability to explain the motivations behind relationship formation and maintenance. It provides a framework for understanding why individuals choose certain partners and how they navigate the challenges that arise in relationships. By considering the trade-offs between rewards and costs, the theory offers insights into the decision-making processes involved in romantic relationships. Additionally, the social exchange theory allows for individual differences in the evaluation of rewards and costs, acknowledging that what may be rewarding for one person may not be the same for another. This recognition of individual perceptions contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of relationship dynamics.
However, a limitation of the social exchange theory is its emphasis on economic calculations and the assumption of rational decision-making. Human relationships are complex and involve emotions, affection, and other non-rational factors that cannot be reduced solely to a cost-benefit analysis. The theory fails to fully capture the depth of emotional connections and the significance of intangible aspects, such as love and trust, which are crucial components of romantic relationships. Furthermore, the theory does not account for the long-term dynamics and developmental changes that occur in relationships over time. It mainly focuses on the immediate rewards and costs, neglecting the evolving nature of partnerships.
One strength of the equity theory is its focus on fairness and balance within relationships. It recognises the importance of equity as a fundamental aspect of relationship satisfaction. When individuals perceive that their relationship is equitable, with an equal distribution of rewards and costs, they are more likely to experience higher levels of satisfaction and commitment. This emphasis on fairness aligns with individuals' inherent need for justice and equality in their interpersonal interactions.
However, a limitation of the equity theory is its assumption that individuals strive for a state of perfect equity. In reality, relationships may not always achieve perfect balance, and there may be periods of imbalance or sacrifice that individuals willingly accept. The theory overlooks the notion of relationship interdependence and the willingness to invest in a partnership for the well-being of the relationship as a whole. Moreover, the equity theory does not account for the subjective nature of perceived fairness. What one individual deems as fair may differ from another's perspective, leading to potential conflicts or disagreements in evaluating equity within a relationship.
Both the social exchange theory and the equity theory have practical implications for understanding and improving romantic relationships in society. Understanding the principles of these theories can guide couples in assessing the distribution of rewards and costs within their relationships, facilitating open communication and negotiation to establish a sense of fairness and satisfaction. Couples can use these theories as frameworks to identify potential sources of conflict or dissatisfaction and work towards resolving them. Additionally, these theories can inform relationship counselling and therapy interventions, providing strategies for addressing imbalances, enhancing communication, and promoting relationship satisfaction. By applying these theories in practical settings, individuals and couples can foster healthier and more fulfilling romantic relationships.
Chris and Sam are discussing their 15-year relationship.
Chris says, “Compared to the relationships of our friends, I think I get a good deal. I do the household jobs and you earn plenty of money. It works well.”
Sam says, “It balances out. Also, it would be such a waste if we split up now. We’ve each put a lot of time and effort into this relationship and we have a lovely home. It could never be this good with anyone else.”
Use your knowledge of theories of romantic relationships to explain the comments made by Chris and Sam.( 8 marks)
Chris's comment reflects the principles of the social exchange theory. According to this theory, individuals engage in a cost-benefit analysis of their relationships, weighing the rewards and costs involved. Chris perceives their relationship as a "good deal" because they believe they are receiving a satisfactory balance of rewards and costs. Chris contributes by taking on household chores, while Sam contributes by earning plenty of money. This division of labour and resources contributes to their perceived satisfaction in the relationship. Chris's comment suggests that they believe the rewards they receive (e.g., a well-maintained home) outweigh the costs they incur (e.g., doing household jobs). This aligns with the notion that individuals are more likely to enter and maintain relationships that offer higher rewards and lower costs.
On the other hand, Sam's comment highlights the concept of investment in the relationship, which aligns with the investment model. Sam acknowledges that both partners have invested a significant amount of time and effort into the relationship over the course of 15 years. They mention the "lovely home" they have built together, indicating both intrinsic and extrinsic investments. Intrinsic investments refer to the emotional attachment, shared experiences, and efforts put into the relationship, while extrinsic investments refer to external factors like the physical assets they have acquired together. Sam's comment reflects the idea that their investment in the relationship acts as a deterrent to leaving or seeking alternatives. They perceive that the relationship has accumulated significant value over time and that starting anew with someone else would not be as fulfilling or as rewarding.