Discuss Research Into the Maintenance of Relationships (8+16marks)

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Discuss research into the maintenance of relationships (8+16marks) Start with a summary sentence: Research into the maintenance of relationships has potentially massive applications to everyday life: If psychology can offer suggestions as to how couples can happily stay in a relationship then ideally the world could be a happier place. Both Social Exchange Theory and the Equity theory which espoused from it attempt to explain the maintenance of relationships. However methodological, cultural issues and theoretical flaws mean that applying research findings into useful settings is somewhat compromised. One theory of relationship maintenance is Social Exchange Theory (SET) Thibault & Kelly (1959) This suggests that relationships are maintained when an individual can maximise the benefits and minimise costs within a relationship. This is regarded as an economic model as it theoretically gives numerical values to emotions and feelings. SET also attempts to explain formation and break-up as Thibault & Kelly argue that stages of Sampling, Bargaining, Commitment and Institutionalisation are encountered. According to both theories covered in this essay maintenance is like a mathematical equation. Relationships will continue if comparisons with previous relationships (CL) are favourable and the available alternatives (CLAlt) are no better than the current relationship. Argyle (1988) methodologies involved in assessing SET are contrived: Research base predominantly founded on short-term snap-shot sampling rather than longitudinal (AO3) , doubts whether can be applied across cultures (Moghaddam 1998) Rusbult (1983) ‘honeymoon’ period at start not accounted for, but Comparison levels of alternatives (CLAlt) appears to predict whether relationship will maintain and even how committed to a relationship individuals are (Sprecher 2001 research support) Murstein

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