Describe and Evaluate Two or More Theories of the Formation of Romantic Relationships (9 Marks + 16 Marks Essay

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Describe and evaluate two or more theories of the formation of romantic relationships (9 marks + 16 marks) January 2011 One theory that outlines the formation of relationships is the reward/ need satisfaction theory that was developed by Byrne and Clore (1970). The theory suggests that we form a relationship because the presence of a particular individual is associated with reinforcement. This is because rewarding stimuli creates positive feelings and these stimuli may be people. These people therefore make us happy, so, due to operant conditioning, we seek to adopt behaviours that lead to a desirable outcome and avoid those that lead to an undesirable outcome. Therefore, the presence of an individual produces positive reinforcement as they have a more attractive appeal. This theory also suggests that we are attracted to people if we meet them whilst we’re in a good mood, an example being at a party. As a result, previously neutral stimuli become positively valued as they are associated with the pleasant event, therefore meaning that we learn to like people through classical conditioning. Griffit and Guay (1969) conducted a study to investigate how the reward/need satisfaction theory works and how well it is acceptable. Participants were evaluated on a creative task by an experimenter. Later they were asked how much they liked the experimenter, and an onlooker who was present. The rating was highest when the experimenter had given positive evaluation of the task. This is rewarding the participant. They also rated the onlooker more highly if given positive feedback about their performance. This study shows that positive reinforcement, such as praise, will increase the likelihood of an individual rating that person more than they would if they had received no positive feedback. This supports the rewards/need satisfaction theory as it shows that receiving a reward

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