The Formation of Romantic Relationships Essay

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The formation of Romantic Relationships According to the reward/need satisfaction theory mutual attraction occurs when each partner meets the unmet needs of the other person. One partner may have the need for love and the other for financial security. Rewarding stimuli produces positive feelings and a negative stimulus creates negative feelings. Given that the stimuli are other people, it follows that the some people make us happy and some do not. According the principles of operant conditioning, we are likely to repeat behaviours that produce a desirable outcome and avoid behaviours that do not. The theory suggests, therefore, that we enter into relationships because the person is directly associated with positive reinforcement, which makes them more attractive. As well as liking someone we share a pleasant experience, we also like people who are associated with pleasant events. If we meet someone when we are feeling happy we are more likely to like them then if we were in a negative mood state. In this way a previous neutral stimuli can become positively valued because of their association with a pleasant event (i.e. we are likely to like people through the process of classical conditioning). Relationships where the positive feeling outweigh the negative is more likely to develop and succeed There is consistent supporting research that we like some individuals because they provide direct reinforcement. Griffitt and Guay found that participants rated the experimenter (on terms of likability) higher when he positively rewarded them on their performance after a creative task. This evidence supports RNS theory as it indicates that liking the experimenter depended on the extent to which they provided direct reinforcement for the participant and made them feel happy. Additionally there is physiological support which shows strong activity in the brains of
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