Interpersonal Attraction and Development of Relationships

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Describe and evaluate two or more theories of interpersonal attraction and the development of relationships. There are many different theories as to how relationships are instigated and how and why they are maintained. There are two stages to relationships, the formation (interpersonal attraction) and maintenance (development). In this essay I will describe and evaluate the reward/need satisfaction theory (RNS), the social exchange theory (SET) and finally the equity theory. Reward/need satisfaction (Byrne and Clore, 1979) claims that if a person’s behaviour is seen to be rewarding to an individual then they are likely to find this person attractive and ultimately it becomes more likely that a relationship will begin to develop, on the other hand, if the individual gains no rewards then a formation of any kind of relationship is unlikely to occur. This theory was developed further by introducing the behaviourist approach of classical conditioning (Pavlov 1927) and operant conditioning (skinner, 1904-1990). Classical conditioning occurs when an individual associates positive events with certain people, this could suggest that an individual is more likely to be attracted to another if they are in a good mood, or at an enjoyable event. This suggests that classical conditioning may in fact play an important role in interpersonal relationships. Operant conditioning could also play a major part, when a stimulus that is rewarding instigates a positive feeling within an individual. As the rewarding stimuli could be a person an individual would more likely to be attracted to them, whereas if the stimuli is negative (punishment) an individual is more likely to avoid unnecessary interaction. As well as an individual receiving rewards within a relationship, there is also many needs that must be met. Argyle, 1994 suggests the following- a biological need is met
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