What is anisogamy and how does it relate to sexual selection?
Differences between male and female sex cells. Male - common, no energy expense, small. Females are the opposite. These differences give rise to different mating strategies
What is the preferred mating strategies for males and females?
Males - intra sexual selection (mate competition). Compete with other males for access to females. Quantity over quality - males most interested in young fertile females.
Females - inter sexual selection (mate choice). women invest more (choosey). Choose a male based on a given trait which indicates genetic fitness. Will choose males who can provide resources, protection, etc.
What is meant by “the runaway process” and the “sexy sons hypothesis”?
Women choose a mate based on a given trait that indicates genetic fitness. This trait will then be passed on to offspring until over generations the trait becomes more common.
Females choose the fittest male, and will then produce the fittest offspring. The offspring will then mates with the fittest over the opposite sex.
Why does sexual selection theory not take social and cultural differences into account?
Social norms of sexual behaviour change more rapidly than evolutionary timescales and come about due to cultural factors. Women have greater role in the workplace, which means their preference may be less dependent on resources (Bereczkei et al. 1997). Chang et al. 2011 found that over a period of 25 years many preferences changed, but many stayed the same —> in line with the social changes in that time. Mate preference may be a combination of evolutionary and and cultural influences —> a theory that does not take both into account is limited.
Clark and Hatfield (1989) provide strong support for the inter and intra sexual selection. Explain why.
Male and female psychology students approached other students across campus. They approached other students with the question: ‘I have been noticing you around campus. I find you very attractive, will you go to bed with me tonight?’. No females answered with ‘yes’ whereas 75% of males said yes. Supports sexual selection as it shows that women are choosier than men and males have evolved behaviour to ensure reproductive success.
How do findings from lonely hearts studies support predictions from sexual selection theory?
Waynforth & Dunbar. Studied lonely hearts adverts, where people advertised what they are looking for and what they have to offer. Women, more than men, advertised physical attractiveness and indicators of youth. Men offered resources more than women did. Supports predictions that women deem resources important in a partner and men are attracted to youth and fertility.
Outline research support by Buss for preferences related to anisogamy.
Survey over 33 countries and 10,000 adults. Were questioned on attributes that evolutionary theory predicts should be important for partner preference. Found that women placed greater value on resource related characteristics (ambition, financial prospects, industriousness) than males. Males valued reproductive capacity (looks, youth, chastity) more than females. Findings support predictions from sexual selection and can be applied across a variety of cultures reflecting fundamental human preferences.
Briefly explain what is meant by self-disclosure and the role it plays in attraction.
The process of slowly but surely revealing more and more about yourself to a partner. These self-disclosures strength the romantic bond between partners.
Self-disclosure is an important aspect in social penetration theory. Describe this theory.
Altman & Taylor (1973). The gradual process of revealing your inner self to another. In romantic relationships it involves the reciprocal exchange of information. When we reveal sensitive information we are displaying trust → having the trust reciprocated will allow the relationship to progress. Revealing more and more intimate information allows them to “penetrate” further into each others lives. This results in greater understanding of each other and increased attraction.
What is meant by breadth and depth of self-disclosure?
These are both important elements to self-disclosure - as these increase, partners become more committed to each others. We disclose a lot at first - superficial, low risk information. Breadth is narrow at first - lots of topics are off limits and we don’t want to scare people off. As the relationship develops, self-disclosure deepens, encompassing a wider range of topics, culminating in the revealing of intimate, high risk information.
Why is reciprocity important in self-disclosure?
There needs to be a balance of self-disclosure between partners. This increases feelings of intimacy. Once you have disclosed something, hopefully your partner will respond in a way that is rewarding (empathy, equally intimate etc).
Explain how research into self disclosure has had real world applications.
Could be used to improve relationship satisfaction. Hass & Stafford (1998). 57% of gay men and women said that honest self-disclosure was the way they maintained and deepened their relationships. Could be used to improve communication skills in individuals who maintain their relationships through small talk → providing more satisfying relationships.
Evaluate self disclosure in terms of the cross cultural applicability and the methodology used in the research.
Predictions of self-disclosure are not universally applicable. Tang et al. (2013) found that individuals in individualist cultures self-disclosed much more (sexual thoughts) than in collectivist cultures. Nevertheless relationship satisfaction was not impaired. Correlation vs Causation (e.g. Sprecher & Hendrick). We cannot assume there is a causal link. It could be other way round (satisfaction causes disclosure); it could also be a third factor that cause attraction e.g. time spent together.
Describe the role of physical attractiveness in attraction.
Facial symmetry - deemed to be attractive. Indication of genetic fitness (Shackelford and Larsen). Neoticism (baby features). Deemed attractive - brings out caring response.
What is the halo effect?
The fact that we have preconceived ideas about the personality traits of attractive people - universally positive. What is beautiful is good. Dion et al. physically attractive people are consistently rated as kind, strong, sociable and successful. This belief makes them even more attractive to us - so we behave more positively towards them.
Briefly outline the Matching hypothesis.
Individuals do not choose the most attractive people as partners. They compromise and choose individuals who match their own level of attractiveness. We desire the most physically attractive partners for many reasons - we also balance this out against our fear of rejection.
Research into online dating supports the view that we are realistic in our partner choices. Do you agree with this statement - explain your answer.
Disagree - Taylor et al. (2011). Monitored activity logs on a dating site → people tended to seek dates with individuals who were much more attractive than themselves. Although it does not state whether or not the dates went ahead, the findings do challenge the prediction made by the theory.
Outline findings from cross-cultural studies into physical attractiveness.
Cunningham et al. (1995) - The neotenous features have been rated as attractive by males from many ethnic backgrounds. Wheeler & Kim (1997) found the Halo Effect to be just as strong in individualist and collectivist cultures. These findings do support the importance of physical attractiveness - certain female features are deemed more attractive by males across many cultures and societies. Results indicate there may be an evolutionary factor in physical attractiveness.
Explain the issue of individual differences in physical attractiveness.
Some people place more emphasis on physical attractiveness than others. Towhey (1979) created the MACHO scale, designed to measure sexist attitudes and behaviours. They found that the PPTs who scored highly on this scale were more influenced by physical attractiveness when making judgements on likability. Shows that the effect of physical attractiveness can be moderated by other factors and so challenges the idea that this is important in relationship formation for all potential partners.
Outline research support for the Halo Effect.
Palmer and Peterson (2012) found that physically attractive people were rated as more politically knowledgeable and competent than unattractive people. The effect continued, even when it was revealed that these people had no expert knowledge. Has obvious implications for the political process. The effect has been found to be prevalent in many areas of life confirming that physical attractiveness is an important factor in the formation of relationships - both romantic and not.
What is meant by field of availables?
The entire set of potential romantic partners, all the people we could realistically form a relationship with.
What is meant by field of desirables?
From the field of availables, those who are attractive to us.
What is meant by law of attraction?
The idea that we find similarity of attitudes attractive.
What is meant by complementarity?
Similarity becomes less important as a relationship develops, and is replaced by a need for your partner to balance your traits with opposite ones of their own.
What is meant by homogamy?
The idea that you are more likely to form a relationship with someone who is socially or culturally similar to yourself.
What is the filter theory?
We narrow down the field of available to a field of desirables by putting people through a set of filters.
Social demography. A wide rage of factors that increase the chances of people meeting (education, class, ethnic group, religion). Although we will meet others from further away, our most meaningful interactions are usually with people nearby. Accessibility is key - requires very little effort. Anyone who is too different will be discounted (leads to homogamy).
Similar Attitudes. Sharing important beliefs and values (partly due to the field of availables). Similarity of attitudes is important especially in the first 18 months (a need to agree over the basics, which leads to deeper self-disclosure). Byrne (1997) Law of attraction.
Complementarity. The ability of partners to meet each others needs - they have traits the other lacks. The need for complementarity is more important for long-term couples. Opposites attraction at later stages. Also gives partners the feeling of forming a whole.
It is suggested that key factors differ at different times in the relationship – how did Winch’s (1958) research support this idea?
Winch (1958) found that similarities of personality, interests and attitudes between partners are typical of the earliest stages of a relationship. Between partners happily married for several years, complementarity of needs is more important that similarity, according to Winch.
Explain why filter theory may be assuming the wrong direction of causality.
The theory assumes that people are initially attracted to each other because they are similar in various ways. It has also been found that cohabiting partners became more similar in their emotional responses over time and also that attitudes become aligned.
Some people suggest that online sites have changed the dating game and the filter theory is no longer valid. Explain what psychologists have found in this regard.
Many relationships now start online and it is suggested that the filtering does not work in the same way. For example, the use of the Internet, etc., means that proximity is less important than previously.
One limitation of the filter theory is the lack of replication of the original findings. Explain why this.
Levinger (1974) could be down to social changes and difficulties in defining depth of relationships. Originally it was assumed that 18 months was the cut of between short and long relationships - this may not be the case in all cultures today. Makes the theory applicability to other cultures and relationships questionable.
Social Exchange Theory assumes that relationships are guided by the minimax principle - explain this.
Thibaut & Kelley (1959) - relationships are an exchange of goods. Satisfaction is judged in terms of profit and cost. Partners are driven to maximise the profit whilst minimising the cost to themselves. Profitable relationships will succeed whilst unprofitable ones will not.
What does Social Exchange Theory mean by a Comparison Level?
It is a judgement of the reward level we expect in a relationship, determined by past relationship experiences and social norms. Generally we will pursue a relationship where the CL is high (however people with low self-esteem may have a low CL).
What is the comparison level for alternatives in Social Exchange Theory?
Involves considering if we would gain more rewards and endure less costs in a different relationship - assuming we can only choose one partner. We will remain in a relationship if it is deemed to be more profitable than the alternatives. CLalt depends heavily on our current relationship - if the costs start to outweigh the rewards then alternatives may become more attractive. Otherwise we may not even notice them.
What are the 4 stages of relationship according to Social Exchange Theory?
Sampling - Exploring rewards and costs through experimentation and observation.
Bargaining - start of a relationship, where rewards and costs are negotiated.
Commitment - relationship becomes more stable - costs and rewards increase.
Institutionalisation - partners are settled as the norms of the relationship are established.
Explain research by Clark and Mills (2011) into different types of relationships.
It is argued that exchange relationships may be based on profit and loss. Communal relationships on the other hand focus on giving and receiving rewards, without thinking about profit. At the start of romantic relationships the tallying of exchanges may be seen as distasteful. SET might not be able to provide a suitable explanation for all types of relationships.
Outline the issues of direction of causality in Social Exchange Theory.
It is assumed that dissatisfaction occurs when the costs outweigh the rewards or when the alternatives seem more attractive. Miller (1997) found that people who said they were in a committed relationship spent less time looking at images of attractive people. Furthermore ‘less time looking’ was a good predictor for relationship continuation. SET may have the wrong direction of cause and effect. Rather than a lack of profit leading to dissatisfaction, it could be that we do not consider the profit until we become dissatisfied.
According to Hatfield et al. Social Exchange Theory ignores other important factors that contributes to relationship satisfaction. Explain this.
SET focusses on comparison levels but ignores the fact that many partners desire equity. Hatfield et al. found that couples in equitable relationships were more satisfied than those who saw themselves as over or underbenefitting. This suggests SET is a limited explanation of relationships, supported by only a proportion of research findings.
A limitation of Social Exchange Theory is that it deals in concepts that are hard to quantify. Explain this.
Research studies tend to operationalise rewards superficially e.g. money - however in reality rewards are much harder to define - they are subjective. We also do not know what the values of the CL and CLalt need to be before dissatisfaction occurs, which is a key issue in understanding relationship breakdown. The inability to accurately quantify key concepts of SET make it difficult to produce valid research support.
Outline the role of equity in relationship
Most people have a need for equity in relationships - Walster et al. argue that equity (the same level of profit) is more important than a balance between cost and benefits. Both over under benefitting can lead to dissatisfaction. Under-benefitting can lead to anger and resentment; over-benefitting could lead to discomfort and shame. Equity is all about the ratio of rewards and costs and not the amount of each.
What are the consequences of inequity?
Sense of inequity impacts negatively on relationships. The greater the perceived inequity the greater the dissatisfaction.
Changes in equity occur during a relationship. At the start of a relationship it may feel perfectly natural to contribute more than you receive. If this continues as the relationship develops then dissatisfaction may occur.
Inequity has to be addressed at times. The under-benefitting partner will work hard to make the relationship more equitable if they believe it is possible to do so. The changes could be cognitive rather than behavioural - the partner may change their perception of rewards and costs - the relationship could then feel more equitable. The revision of norms can also explain how abuse can become a norm within a relationship e.g. reframing cruelty as a form of rough treatment for your own good.
Outline the research support for equity theory
Utne et al. Newly-weds who considered their relationships equitable were more satisfied than those who over-benefitted or under-benefitted. Appears that profit is not the key issue is judging relationships. Research supports the central predictions of quite theory - providing validity.
Evaluate equity theory in terms of cross cultural application.
Aumer-Ryan et al. found that in individualist cultures partners linked satisfaction to equity whereas in collectivist cultures partners were most satisfied when over or under benefitting. The assumption of the theory, that equity would play a role in all cultures, is not supported. The theory has a limited ability to account for all romantic relationships.
Outline the issues of individual differences in equity theory.
Huseman et al. suggest that some people are more sensitive to equity than others. Some partners are happy to contribute more than they get (benevolents), whereas others feel they deserve to be over-benefitted and accept it without feeling guilty or distressed (entitleds). Not only is a desire for equity not a universal trait it is also subject to individual differences.
In relation to Rusbult’s investment model of romantic relationships, explain what is meant by (i) commitment and (ii) satisfaction.
Satisfaction is the extent to which a partner feels the rewards of a relationship exceeds the cost. It is one of three factors that affects commitment.
Commitment is a romantic partner’s intention or desire to continue a relationship, reflecting the belief that the relationship has long-term viability. Commitment is an important aspect of the model, as it can explain why unhappy people stay in relationships.
Describe Rusbult’s investment theory of romantic relationships.
According to Rusbult (2011) a partner’s commitment to a relationship on 3 factors - Satisfaction, quality of alternatives and investment size.
Satisfaction is based on the the amount of rewards (sex, companionship, laughs etc.) and costs (stress, conflicts etc.). If the rewards are high and the partners receive more than they expect to based on previous relationship, then satisfaction will be high.
The quality of alternatives refers to partners asking themselves whether or not their needs to be better met elsewhere. Should this be the case, commitment levels will drop.
Finally, the investment size refers to the importance of the resources associated with the relationship. These can be intrinsic (directly put into the relationship by a partner e.g. effort & money, ) or extrinsic (ones that came about as a direct result of the relationship e.g. children & memories).
Explain the practical value of the investment model.
Can be used to explain why people remain in abusive relationships, despite the fact that they are mostly likely not gaining much satisfaction. In a study of ‘battered women’, Rusbult and Martz found that those most likely to return to an abusive partner reported high amounts of investment and a lack of alternatives. This supports the model, as it recognises that people do not have to satisfied to remain in a relationship.
Outline research support for the investment model.
Equally, support was provided by Le & Agnew who studied research conducted over a 20 year period, involving 5 countries and 11,000 PPTs. It was concluded that satisfaction, quality of alternatives and level of investment all predicted relationship commitment, which in turn predicted relationship stability. Additionally, it was found that these factors were equally important for men, women homosexuals and heterosexuals indicating their universal importance in relationships and providing support for the validity for the theory.
Why does the investment model oversimplify investment?
Goodfriend and Agnew - there is more to investment than the resources you have already put into the relationship. Early in a relationship investments are low - however you invest in future plans, which can motivate people to commit. Limited explanation as it fails to consider the true complexity of investment.
A limitation of the investment model is that it relies of correlational research. Why is this an issue?
Although strong correlations have been established. We cannot assume that one variable causes the other. As such we cannot conclude which factors, if any, might cause commitment.
Outline Duck’s phase model of relationship breakdown.
Duck’s phase model suggests that people pass through 4 different stages when their relationship breaks down.
Firstly there is the intrapsychic stage, in which it is realised the relationship was in trouble. This stage is marked by the mulling over of issues and the weighing up of pros and cons of a relationship.
In the dyadic phase partners begins to air their grievances in a series of confrontations that occur over time. At this stage the relationship can still be salvaged.
In the social stage partners will start to seek support from friends and families. Factions are usually formed, gossip is traded/encouraged and friends become either supportive or judgmental (towards the partner). Some friends will try to help to repair the relationship whilst others will hasten the breakup.
The final stage is the grave-dressing phase. The focus here is on the aftermath of the breakup. Partners will try to save face (usually at the expense of the other) and spin a favourable story portraying themselves in a positive light. In this stage people will also try to create a story she can live, tidy up memories and attempt to move on, learning from mistakes made.
Outline 1 strength of Duck’s Phase Model.
A strength of the model is not just that is shows us different stages of breakdown, but it also suggests ways of reversing the breakdown. It recognises that different repair strategies are useful in different stages of the model. Duck suggests that in the intrapsychic stage, the brooding could be focussed on positive aspects of the partner, whereas improvement in social skills could be useful in the dyadic stage. Such insight can be very useful in relationship counselling and therefore makes the theory important in the real world.
A limitation of Duck’s model is it’s reliance on retrospective data. Explain this.
On the other hand, research into this model has several methodological flaws. Retrospective data, which means that information may not always be reliable, as certain facts may have been distorted or omitted from memory. Researchers are also often reluctant to study the early stages of breakdown because their involvement could make things worse, which means that Duck’s model actually ignores part of the breakdown process, making it an incomplete model.
Critics argue that Duck’s model is actually incomplete - why is this?
Rollie and Duck added a fifth phase in which partner take what they have learnt in preparation for a future relationship - the resurrection phase. It is also clarified that movement through the model is not linear or inevitable. The original model only offers partial explanation of the breakdown process.
Explain the cultural issues with Duck’s phase model.
Moghaddam et al. - individualist cultures relationships end quickly and easily, whereas in collectivist cultures they are often obligatory and less easy to end. The concept of relationships differs between cultures, so surely the concept of breakdown should also. The model can only be applied to some some cultures and certain types of relationships.
Outline Reduced Cues Theory.
Research into virtual relationships has focussed mainly on the impact on how self-disclosure operates within virtual relationships.
Reduced Cues theory, which suggests that face to face (F2F) relationships are much less effective than virtual communication (CMC). The main reason for this is the lack of cues that we would usually depend on during normal F2F interactions. Such cues involve facial expressions, body language and tone of voice, all of which give us some insight into the emotional state of the person we are speaking to.
The absence of such cues leads to de-individuation (the loss of one’s individual identity), which in turn can lead to a loss of inhibitions when relating to others. This can often result in blunt, aggressive and inappropriate interactions, which are unlikely to make you want to self-disclose, as you unlikely to want to share your innermost feelings with someone who is impersonal.
What is meant by the hyper-personal model?
Walther (2011). Early self-disclosure in CMC means that relationships develop quickly —> become intense and intimate quickly. These relationships can also end very quickly due to the high excitement and low trust.
Explain why people act differently when they are online - often changing their personality, traits and even gender.
Computer Mediated communications, which is engaging in in chatrooms, are un-gated interactions. This means that issues that would hold people back in the real world, such as social anxiety, are no longer an issue.
The absence of gating works by re-focussing the attention on what people say, rather than other superficial details that may be distracting upon first meeting. It also means that the relationship can “get off the ground” in a way that may not be possible F2F and means the relationship can develop to the point where self-disclosures become more frequent and deeper.
Additionally, the absence of gating means that people are able to create online identities that they would not be able to manage in real life meetings. In some cases, people are very introverted and socially withdrawn in real life, however online they can be whatever they want. Male or female, introverted or extroverted.
Outline supporting research for the hyperpersonal model.
Research by Whittey and Joinson (2009). For example, in online discussion questions tend to be very direct, probing and intimate and the responses to these are equally direct and intimate. This is very different from F2F meetings where interactions are often “fluffed” out with small talk. These findings support the central issue of the Hyperpersonal model; the way we self disclose in CMC is designed to portray us in an exaggeratedly positive light, which encourages self-disclosure and aids relationship formation.
Outline the supporting evidence for absence of gating.
McKenna and Bargh (2000). Studied socially anxious people and found that these were more able to express their “true selves” more freely via CMC than via F2F communications. Of the romantic relationships that initially formed from virtual relationship 70% lasted longer than 2 years, which is a higher proportion than those formed in the real world. Demonstrates both the influence of gating to obstruct the formation of FtF relationships and the power of online virtual communication to overcome such obstacles.
Outline a limitation for the reduced cues theory.
Walther and Tidwell - cues in CMCs are simply different from those in F2F ones. Emoticons and acrostics are effective substitutes in CMCs - the idea that there are reduced cues is unfounded. There may be no difference in self-disclosure between CMC and FtF relationships - theory is not supported.
A further limitation of explanations of virtual relationships is that CMCs are not recognised as multi-modal. What does this mean?
Theories need to include the fact that relationships are usually conducted both online and offline. The interaction between people online will influence their F2F interactions. This includes the level and speed of self-disclosure. These interactions have to be considered together and not separately. Current theories may underestimate the complexities of virtual relationships.
What is meant by a “parasocial relationship”?
The term refers to a relationship that is similar to a normal relationship but lacks a key element. They are a one-sided relationship, usually with a celebrity, on which the ‘fan’ spends a lot of time, energy and emotion.
Describe the different levels of parasocial relationships.
The entertainment-social level of parasocial relationships. This is the least intense level, where celebrities are viewed as sources of entertainment and fuel for social interaction i.e. gossiping with workmates.
The intense-personal stage, which is moderately intense. It involves a greater personal involvement with the celebrity (posters on walls) and could include having intense and obsessive thoughts about the celebrity (thinks about them regularly during the day).
The borderline pathological stage, which is the most intense level of parasocial relationships. It is characterised by uncontrollable fantasies and extreme behaviours towards the celebrity e.g. belief that a celebrity is in love with you. This stage could also see the emergence of illegal/violent acts on behalf of the celebrity.
Briefly describe the absorption addiction model
McCutcheon (2002) - people form parasocial relationships due to deficiencies in their own lives. E.g. lack sense of fulfilment or sense of self. Parasocial relationship allows a sense of escape. Someone who is in the entertainment-social stages could be pushed into deeper levels due to personal crisis. Absorption - seeking fulfilment allows the individual to focus their attention on the celebrity; to become preoccupied with their existence and identify with them. Individual needs to sustain their commitment by feeling a closer and stronger involvement - this can lead to more and more extreme behaviours.
How can attachment theory be used to explain parasocial relationships.
Bowlby - early difficulties in attachment may lead to difficulties in forming successful relationships
later in life. Such difficulties could lead to a preference for parasocial relationships - don’t require the same
social skills. Insecure attachment types are most likely to lead to parasocial relationships. Resistant - want to have their unfulfilled needs met in a relationship where there is no threat of rejection. Avoidant - prefer to avoid the pain and rejection of any type of relationship, either social or parasocial.
Critics of the absorption-addiction model suggest it lacks explanatory power. What does this mean?
Has been criticised for being a better description than explanation. Can describe the characteristics but cannot explain how they came about. A good theory should be able to describe, explain and predict behaviour. Any theory that meets only the first of these aims is lacking validity because it is not a full explanation of the behaviour.
Outline research support for the absorption-addiction model.
Maltby 2005 - link between celebrity worship and body image. Particularly females reporting an intense parasocial relationship with a celebrity whose body shape they admired. Linked to own poor body image → could be a precursor to developing anorexia. → Supports the link between celebrity worship and poor psychological functioning.
Evaluate the link of parasocial relationships to attachment.
Strength: Schmid and Klimmt. Found similar levels of parasocial relationships in both individualist and collectivist cultures. Seems like the tendency is not culture specific. Suggests the need to form parasocial relationships may universal, innate and adaptive.
Limitation: McCutcheon et al. Participants with insecure attachments were no more likely to form parasocial relationships than people with secure attachments. The failure to find support for a key feature of the theory raises serious validity concerns. Limitation of using attachment theory to explain parasocial relationships - little predictive validity.
Evaluate methodology used in parasocial relationship research.
Most of the research uses self-report techniques - social desirability bias. Research also makes use of correlational data - causal links cannot be made. There is no actual evidence to show that parasocial relationship are caused by specific experiences.