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PSY424H1 (20)
Chapter 1

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Stephanie Spielmann

Chapter 1 The Building Blocks of Relationships The Nature and Importance of Intimacy - The Nature of Intimacy o Intimate relationships differ from more casual associations in at least 6 specific ways:  Knowledge, caring, interdependence, mutuality, trust, and commitment o Knowledge  Intimate partners have extensive personal, often confidential, knowledge about each other  Share information about their histories, preferences, feelings etc. that they do not reveal to most of the other people they know o Caring  Intimate partners care for each other, feeling more affection for one another than they do for most others  Intimacy increases when people believed that their partners know, understand, and appreciate them o Interdependence  The lives of intimate partners are intertwined – what each partner does affects what the other partner wants to do and can do  The extent to which they need and influence each other is frequent, strong, diverse and enduring o Mutuality  People who are intimate consider themselves to be a couple instead of two entirely separate individuals  Think of themselves as “us” instead of “me” and “her”  The Inclusion of Other in the Self Scale is a straightforward measure of mutuality o Trust  Expectation that an intimate partner will treat one fairly and honorably  People expect that no undue harm will result from their intimate relationships  When trust is lost, people become wary and reduce the openness and interdependence that characterize closeness o Commitment  Expect partnerships to continue indefinitely o None of these requirements is required for intimacy to occur, and each may exist when others are absent o In general, most satisfying and meaningful intimate relationships include all six of these defining characteristics - The Need to Belong o We need frequent, pleasant interactions with intimate partners in lasting, caring relationships if we’re to function normally o There is a human need to belong in close relationships  Regular social contact with those to whom one feels connected o We don’t need a lot of close relationships – just a few  When the need to belong is satiated, out drive to form additional relationships is reduced o Doesn’t matter much who our partners are – as long as they provide us stable affection and acceptance, our need can be satisfied o In general, people live happier, healthier, longer lives when they’re closely connected to others than they do when they’re on their own o People with insufficient intimacy in their lives are at risk for a wide variety of health problems  People who lacked close ties were 2-3 times more likely to die over a 9-year span o People who have pleasant interactions with others who care for them are more satisfied with their lives than are those who lack such social contact o People who get and stay married are happier than those who are less committed to an intimate partnership o Why should we need intimacy so much?  Need to belong evolved over eons, gradually becoming a natural tendency in all human beings  Because early humans lived in small tribal groups surrounded by a difficult environment full of tigers, people who were loners were less likely than gregarious humans to have children who would grow to maturity and reproduce  Tendency to form affectionate connections to others would have been evolutionary adaptive The Influence of Culture - In the US: o Fewer people are marrying than ever before o People are waiting longer to marry o People routinely live together even when they’re not married o People often have babies even when they’re not married o Almost one-half of all marriages end in divorce, a failure rate that’s two times higher than it was your grandparents married o Many children live in a single-parent home before they turn 12 o Most preschool children have mothers who work outside the home - Marriage is now a choice - If we do marry, we’re less likely to consider it a solemn, lifelong commitment - Cultural standards provide a foundation for our relationships o They shape our expectations and define the patterns we think to be normal - Cohabitation increases a couple’s risk that they will later divorce o Couples who choose to cohabit are less committed to each other than those who marry – they are keeping their options open, so they encounter more problems and uncertainties than married people do o Experience more conflict, jealousy, infidelity, and physical aggression o The longer people cohabit, the less enthusiastic about marriage they become - Source of Change o One set of influences involves economics  Education and financial resources allow people to be more independent, so that women in particular are less likely to marry than they used to be o Individualism  The support of self-expression and the emphasis on personal fulfillment  This has become more pronounced  Has led us to expect more personal gratification from our intimate partnerships than our grandparents did o Technology  Modern reproductive technologies allow single women to bear children father by men picked from a catalog at a sperm bank whom the women have never met  American women are having fewer children than they used to o Relative number of young men and women in a given culture  Sex ratio: when the sex ratio is high, there are more men than women; when it is low, there are fewer men than women  The baby boom that followed WW2 caused the US sex ratio to plummet to low levels at the end of that decade  However, when birthrates began to slow and fewer children entered the demographic pipeline, each new flock of women was smaller than the preceding flock of men, and the US sex ratio crept higher in the 1990s  Cultures with high sex ratios tend to support traditional, old- fashioned roles for men and women  Women stay home raising children while men work outside the home  Sexually conservative  Ideal newlywed is a virgin bride, unwed pregnancy is shameful, open cohabitation is rare  Cultures with low sex ratios tend to be less traditional and more permissive o Cultural changes are not accidental  Society’s norms evolve to promote interests of its most powerful members – men  Recent decades have seen improvement in the status of women o When sex ratios are high, there aren’t enough women to go around  Man will want to keep his woman o When sex ratios are low, there are plenty of women, and men may be less interested in being tired down to just one of them The Influence of Experience - Attachment styles o Developmental researchers realized that infants displayed various patterns of attachment to their major caregivers o Secure style of attachment: they happily bonded with others and relied on them comfortably, and the children readily developed relationships characterized by relaxed trust o Anxious-ambivalent: being uncertain of when or if a departing caregiver would return, such children became nervous and clingy, displaying excessive neediness in their relationships with others o Avoidant: often suspicious of and angry at others, and they did not easily form trusting, close relationships - Researchers believed that early interpersonal experienced shaped the course of one’s subsequent relationships - Secure people generally held positive images of themselves and others, and remembered their parents as loving and supportive - Insecure people viewed others with uncertainty or distrust, and remembered their parents as inconsistent or cold - Two different reasons why people might wish to avoid being too close to others; o People could want relationships with others but be wary of them, fearing rejection and mistrusting them o People could be independent and self-reliant, genuinely preferring autonomy and freedom rather than close attachments to others - Proposed 4 categories (Barholomew) o Secure: remained the same as the secure style identified in children o Preoccupied: the new name for anxious-ambivalence  Such people are preoccupied with, and worried about, the status of their relationships o The third and fourth reflected two ways to be “avoidant” o Fearful: avoided intimacy with others because of their fears of rejection  Worried about the risks of relying on others o Dismissing: felt that intimacy with others just wasn’t worth the trouble  Rejected interdependency with others because they felt self- sufficient, and didn’t care much whether others liked them or not - Now accepted that two broad themes underlie and distinguish these 4 styles of attachment: o Avoidance of intimacy: affects the ease and trust with which they accept interdependent intimacy with others  Low in avoidance: people who are comfortable and relaxed in close relationships  High in avoidance: those who feel uneasy when others get close to them o Anxiety about abandonment: the dread that others will find them unworthy and leave them  Secure people: take great comfort in closeness with others and do not worry that others will mistreat them and thus seek intimate, interdependent relationships  With all three of the other styles: people are burdened with anxiety or discomfort that leaves them at ease in close relationships o These two themes are continuous dimensions that range from low to high  60% of people describe themselves as being securely attached o Attachment styles appear to be orientations toward relationships that are largely learned from our experiences with others  The quality of parenting a baby receives can depend, in part, on the child’s own personality and behavior; in this way, people’s attachment styles are influenced by the traits with which they were born, and our genes sh
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