Role of reward: We
are motivated to
stimuli and avoid
even in the context
Role of need: The sort of
things we find rewarding
tend to reflect our unmet
needs e.g. the need for
company, money, etc.
Mutual Attraction: Relationships form
through mutual attraction. This
occurs when each partner meets the
other's needs, e.g. one may have the
need for financial security, while the
other may crave love. This explains
seemingly unbalanced relationships.
Role of classical Conditioning:
We also like people
who associate with
Potential partner, NS paired with
pleasant experience, UCS, leads to a
controlled stimulus, CS.
This leads to positive
feelings, a conditioned
Therefore, relationships where
the positive feelings outweigh
the negative feelings are
successful, and relationships
where the negatives outweigh
the positives end in failure.
Rabbie and Horowitz (1960)
found that strangers expressed
greater liking for each other
when they were successful in a
game-like task than when
Role of Operant Conditioning
Rward/punishment- some people
reward us by creating positive
feelings in us, such as happiness.
Other relationships 'punish'
us by making us unhappy.
We are likely to repeat any
behaviour that leads to a
reward, therefore we form a
relationship with a person
because we seek to repeat
the positive feeling they
create in us.
Griffit and Guay (1969) conducted an
experiment in which participants were
evauluated on a creative task by an
experimenter, then asked to rate how much
they liked the experimenter. Rating was
highest when the experimenter had
positively evaluated (rewarded) the
participant's performance on the task.
Participants also had to say how much
they liked an onlooker. The onlooker was
rated more highly where the participant's
performance was rated positively. This
links to classical conditioning.
Cate et al (1982) did an
experiment with 337
participants. The reward level
was superior to all other
factors in determining
Aron et al (2005) looked early
stage, intense romantic love, and
found that it was associated with
elevated levels of activity in the
reward regions of the brain.
This experiment is good because it can't be
affected by demand characteristics etc.
The theory only explores the receiving of rewards,
and suggests we are entirely selfish
Hay (1985) found that we
gain satisfaction from giving
as well as receiving.
The theory does not
account for cultural
differences in the
Lott (1994) suggests that in many cultures, women are more focussed
on the needs of others rather than receiving reinforcement.
However, you could argue that satisfying the other's needs is a way of
rewarding themselves with a good feeling for doing so.
Most of the studies carried
out are lab studies and
therefore lack mundane
realism and ecological
However, Caspi and Herbener studied real life
couples, and have supported the lab studies' results.
Definition: You are attracted to a person because you have significant similarities to them (Byrne, Clore and Smeaton). There are two stages.
1. Sort potential partners for dissimilarity,
avoiding those who appear too different to you.
2. Then, choose someone who is similar to you.
Think of it as SIMILARITY being
the ultimate deciding factor,
that's why it is called SIMILARITY
theory, because it is SIMILARITY
that ultimately decides which
particular person it is.
Personality: Research consistently demonstrated that people are more likely to be attracted to others who have similar personality traits than
non-similar. (bescheid and Reis 1998) Tough opposites do sometimes attract, similarity has been found to promote happiness more in the long term
(Caspi and Herbener)
Attitudes: People prefer potential partners with similar attitudes. however, when people who are similar in most ways disagree a little
on something, a process of attitude alignment occurs. This is where partners modify their attitudes so they become more similar.
Explanations of why similarity is so
important strengthen the theory.
1. We assume that people similar to us will be more
likely to like us too; chances of rejection are lessened
(Condon and Crano, 1988)
2. When other people share our attitudes and
beliefs it tneds to reinforce them and reward us
(leads to reward-need satisfaction theory)
Lehr and Geher (2006) did a lab experiment where participants read descriptions
of a stranger, and rated liking of the stranger as higher when they were similar to
them. Reciprocal liking was also measured, and participants also liked the
stranger more when the stranger 'liked' the participant compared to when the
description included that the stranger disliked the participant.
hypothesis: dissimilarity is
more important than
similarity. Support for this
Singh and Tan, 1992, did a Singapore study, and Drigotas 1993 study US findings both support this.
Both found tghat participants were first attracted to each other
because of similarity,then those who were more dissimilar
became less attracted to each other.
However, you could argue that according to these findings, similarity still holds for
relationship formation, and the findings about dissimilarity refer more to relationship
maintenance/breakdown i.e. locate dissimilarities when relationship is formed, and
these imply whether the relationship will be maintained or broken off. IDA: Culture
Research on similarity focusses only on attitude and personality.
Yoshida (1972) factors such as similarity of self-concept,
economic level and physical condition are equally important.