Discuss two or more theories of the formation of romantic relationships. (8 marks + 16 marks)
Reward/need satisfaction theory suggests that we become attracted to people who evoke positive feelings as they provide direct reinforcement through operant conditioning. If the presence of an individual leads to a positive outcome, they will be perceived as more attractive. We are thus more likely to repeat these behaviours towards that individual, leading to the formation of a relationship.
We also become attracted to people who are associated with positive events through classical conditioning. People who are associated with these positive events acquire positive value, increasing our ...view middle of the document...
Many cultures, for example, are more focused on the needs of others rather than receiving rewards.
Another view of the formation of relationships is that we are attracted to people with similar personalities to ourselves, and we avoid those whose personalities are dissimilar to ours. The formation of a relationship is more likely to occur between two people with similar personality traits.
This theory also suggests that the formation of a relationship is also more likely if two people have similarattitudes. Dissimilar attitudes often lead to conflict. Research suggests that ‘attitude alignment’ often occurs in relationships, whereby partners modify their attitudes so that they become more similar.
A study by Lehr & Geher supported the importance of attitudinal similarity. A stranger was described to 56 participants; this stranger’s attitudes were either similar or dissimilar to the participants. When asked about likelihood of dating the stranger, a correlation was found between this and attitude similarity. This shows that having similar attitudes increase the...