Outline and evaluate the contributions of psychological research (theories and/or studies) to our understanding of the formation of relationships
One theory of formation of relationships that has contributed to our understanding of the formation of relationships, is the reward/need satisfaction theory. Byrne and Clove suggest that this theory means mutual attraction occurs when each partner meets the other persons need through operant conditioning. This might be the need for financial satisfaction or love etc. The rewards and needs can come from various factors. One of these factors is proximity which describes the distance between you and the potential partner. If the proximity is close then the reward gained is less effort
…show more content…
However the supporting empirical evidence from Zajonc can be criticised as the experiment was conducted in an artificial environment as participants were introduced to strangers in a laboratory setting. This means that Zajoncs' findings cannot be applied to real life and thus reducing the ecological validity of the study. The theory has also been criticised by some psychologists for being deterministic, as the theory fails to consider the role of free will in suggesting that we are not able to make our own choices through others vicarious reinforcement playing a role in our decision towards the formation of a romantic relationship. As the theory suggests we do not play attention to our own opinions, it doesn't measure our true feelings, which is most likely to be taken into consideration in real life. Also, this theory ignores gender differences. Lott argues that women are socialised into taking care of the needs of others and so feel less concerned by trying to gratify their own needs. Therefore the theory cannot explain the formation of all romantic relationships. Another criticism of the reward/need satisfaction is that it is culturally bias, as it does not account for cultural differences in the formation of relationships. Many cultures, for example, are more focused on the needs of others rather than receiving rewards.
An alternative theory that contributes to our