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Chapter 10

PSYB10H3 Chapter 10: Chapter #10

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Inbar Yoel

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Chapter 10 Notes
Relationships and Attraction
Characterizing Relationships
In studying relationships, researchers face certain challenges that are not as
common in other areas of social psychology
Researchers use longitudinal methods to examine the dynamics that unfold over
time in preexisting relationships
oThey attempt to understand, for example, what factors early in a
relationship make for happier or more problematic bonds
oThis kind of research involves the challenging methodological problem of
self-selection, which occurs whenever investigators are unable to assign
participants to the conditions being compared
oWhen participants “select” their own condition, researchers can’t know
whether an observed difference between two conditions is a reflection of
the different experiences of the people in those conditions, or simply a
result of different types of people tending to gravitate to each of the two
The Importance of Relationships
Many people from Western cultures define themselves in independent,
individualistic terms, focusing on how they are different and separate from others
Arguments for the Need to Belong
There’s a great deal of consensus that relationships help individuals and offspring
survive, thus increasing the likelihood of passing on one’s genes
Long-term romantic bonds evolved to facilitate reproduction and to raise
offspring, who are vulnerable and dependent for many years
Parent-offspring attachments help ensure that infants and children are protected
and will survive until they can function independently
Friendship evolved as a means for non-kin to cooperate, thereby avoiding the
costs and perils of competition and aggression
oBut, it seems that we satisfy our need for friendship with a limited number
of close friends, and once that need is satisfied, we don’t continue to seek
other relationships
- In Western European cultures, college students tend to restrict their
meaningful interactions to, on average, about six friends
Pioneers in the field of human ethology, who studied hunter-gatherer groups in
their natural environments, documented patterns of social behavior that appear to
be universal: caregiving between mother and child, wrestling between siblings,
flirtation by young people who are courting, affection between romantic partners,
dominance displays between adolescent males
Evidence for the Need to Belong
When the need to belong is not met over a long period of time, people tend to
suffer profoundly negative consequences
Harry Harlow (1958) experiment:

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oHarry Harlow (1958) raised baby rhesus monkeys without contact with
other rhesus monkeys but with access to two “mother surrogates”—props
vaguely resembling monkeys
oOne prop was covered in cloth, where the monkeys could go for comfort
when feeling threatened; the other was made out of wire that could
provide milk when the monkeys were hungry
oThe monkeys preferred the mother that could provide comfort to the one
that could provide food
oThose raised with these mothers, but otherwise in isolation, were in no
way normal when they reached adolescence. As adolescents, they were
highly fearful, could not interact with their peers, and engaged in
inappropriate sexual behaviors
There’s ample evidence for the need to belong in humans as well…
oMortality rates are higher for divorced, unmarried, and widowed
oAdmissions to hospitals for psychological problems are 3 to 23 times
higher for divorced than married people, depending on the study and
nature of the psychological problems in question
oSuicide rates are higher for single and divorced individuals
oAccording to the so-called marriage benefit, married people fare better
than unmarried ones on various indices of well-being
oHaving support from others also contributes to good health, by
strengthening the cardiovascular, immune, and endocrine systems
Different Ways of Relating to Others
Communal and Exchange Relationships
Margaret Clark and Judson Mills argue that two fundamentally different types of
relationships—communal relationships and exchange relationships—arise in
different contexts and are governed by different norms
Communal relationship: a relationship in which the individuals feel a special
responsibility for one another and give and receive according to the principle of
need; such relationships are often long term
oPeople in communal relationships, such as close friends, come to resemble
one another in the timing of their laughter and their specific emotional
oIn communal relationships, individuals give and receive according to the
principle of need—that is, according to who has the most pressing need at
any given time
oPrototypical examples of communal relationships are ones between family
members and between close friends—the kinds of relationships that are
the social fabric of communal life in small villages
Exchange relationship: a relationship in which individuals feel little
responsibility toward one another; giving and receiving are governed by concerns
about equity and reciprocity; such relationships are usually short term

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oIn exchange relationships, giving and receiving are governed by concerns
about equity (you get what you put into the relationship) and reciprocity
(what you receive is returned in proportion to what you give)
oExamples of exchange relationships are interactions with salespeople and
bureaucrats, or with workers and supervisors in a business organization
People in East Asian and Latin American societies are inclined to take a
communal approach to many situations in which people in European and
Commonwealth countries would be inclined to take an exchange approach
There are differences among Western nations, however: people from Catholic
countries are more likely to take a communal stance than people from Protestant
Rewards and the Social Exchange Theory of Interpersonal Relationships
One of the most widely accepted principles of interpersonal relationships has the
virtue of simplicity: people tend to like and gravitate toward those who provide
them with rewards
oThe rewards don’t have to be tangible or immediate, and they don’t have
to come from direct interaction
What can you do to get others to like you? Reward them, make other people feel
good when they are around you
The notion that relationships involve rewards lies at the heart of a theory that
views much of human interaction as social exchange
oSocial exchange theory: a theory based on the idea that how people feel
about a relationship depends on their assessments of its costs and rewards
- People seek out rewards in their interactions with others, and they are
willing to pay certain costs to obtain them
- Typically, people prefer interactions or relationships in which the
rewards exceed the costs
- If rewarding interactions are not available, however, an individual is
likely to seek out those interactions in which the costs exceed the
rewards by the smallest amount
People have certain standards that influence their evaluations of the rewards and
costs in their relationships- known as the comparison level and comparison level
for alternatives
oComparison level: expectations about what people think they deserve or
expect to get out of a relationship
oComparison level for alternatives: expectations about what people think
they can get out of alternative relationships
- If you have plenty of attractive suitors knocking at your door, you’re
likely to have a pretty high comparison level for alternatives
- Such variations help explain why, for example, a person chooses to
stay in an abusive relationship that most people would have ended
long ago (the person has a very low comparison level), or why an
individual never seems to be able to stay in a relationship for more
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