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Close Relationships Relationship formation, maintenance, and breakup

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Presentation on theme: "Close Relationships Relationship formation, maintenance, and breakup"— Presentation transcript:

1 Close Relationships Relationship formation, maintenance, and breakup
Soundtrack 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover -- Paul Simon I’ll Be Watching You – The Police

2 Passionate love Must come into contact with someone who is an appropriate love object. Role of chance

3 Passionate love Given a chance encounter, what increases the probability that you will fall in love? Role of arousal

4 Video clip

5 Passionate love Two factor theory of passionate love (Hatfield & Berscheid) First, person must experience a general state of arousal Second, person must attribute this arousal to the potential partner

6 Passionate love Excitation transfer: the process whereby arousal caused by one stimulus (e.g., an anxiety provoking situation) is added to the arousal from a second stimulus (e.g., an attractive potential partner) and the combined arousal is attributed to the second stimulus (e.g., the potential partner)

7 Excitation transfer? Dutton & Aron (1974) Quasi-IV: Walked across a scary suspension bridge (high arousal) or a more standard bridge (low arousal) DV: Later calls or does not call the attractive female E Results: Men who had crossed the scary bridge were ____likely to call the attractive female E than those who had crossed the standard bridge. Limitation?

8 Excitation transfer White et al (1981) study
IV1: Men ran in place for 2 mins or 15 seconds (to create high/low arousal) IV2: Woman in video was attractive or unattractive DV: After watching video, men rated woman’s attractiveness. Results: Men in the ______arousal condition rated the attractive woman as _____attractive and the unattractive woman as ____ attractive than did men in the ____ arousal condition.

9 Passionate love usually cools over time.
In U.S., initial honeymoon period is followed by a drop in satisfaction; continues to decline from 2-3 yrs; levels off around 4 yrs After 2 years of marriage, spouses express affection about half as often as when they were newlyweds.

10 Divorce rate Occurs most often within 7 yrs, with peak at 4-5 yrs.

11 Second danger point about 16-20 yrs into marriage (16. 4 yrs
Second danger point about yrs into marriage (16.4 yrs.) -- when kids leave home, or midlife crisis.


13 Cross-cultural differences
May differ cross-culturally in arranged vs. love-based marriages. Gupta & Singh (1982) study of 50 couples in India. Half in arranged marriages, half married for “love. Results: Those who married for love reported declining feelings of love if they had been married more than five years. In contrast, those in arranged marriages reported more love if they were not newlyweds.

14 Gupta & Singh (1982)

15 Conflict and Communication in Long-term Romantic Relationships
Conflict is common in romantic relationships.

16 Sometimes conflict arises from differing expectations.

17 Video Clip

18 Sometimes conflict arises because partners have different perceptions of the same events.

19 Video clip

20 What is the trajectory of conflict in long-term stable relationships?
Classic study by Harriet Braiker and Harold Kelley (1979): 20 married couples provided accounts of their relationships, from casual dating, to serious dating, engagement, marriages, etc, and indicated degrees of love and conflict/negativity. Main point: Both love and conflict increased from casual to serious dating and leveled off at engagement and marriage. (Figure on overhead)

21 Braiker & Kelley (1979)

22 What is the trajectory of conflict in relationships that breakup?
Sally Lloyd and Rodney Cate (1985) took an approach similar to Braiker & Kelley, but they looked at 49 men and 48 women who had been in serious romantic relationships ), but had broken up in the last twelve months. Main point: Both love and conflict increase from early to later stage of relationship, but as relationships moved into a state of uncertainty, conflict increased and love decreased.


24 Is conflict good or bad for a relationship?
It depends on how the people deal with the conflict! Good: Open communication, constructive problem-solving Bad: Negative affect reciprocity (a tit-for-tat exchange of expressions of negative feelings) and demand-withdraw pattern (one person wants to discuss a relationship problem, the other withdraws)

25 How might couples improve their relationships?
John Gottman, at University of Washington. “Love Lab”) What kinds of measures do the researchers collect? What kinds of information do you think the researchers are using to estimate whether a couple is likely to divorce or remain together? What constructive behaviors (i.e., those that are probably good for the relationship) did you observe in these couples? What destructive behaviors (i.e., those that will likely harm the relationship) did you observe?

26 Video clip

27 Gottman claims that his assessments (in the “Love Lab”) allow him to predict with 90% accuracy, which married couples are likely to remain in a stable relationship and which ones are likely to get divorced. Thought question: Would you be able to predict as well as Gottman? Why or why not?

28 Main predictors of divorce
Frequency of criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. Contempt (e.g., rolling the eyes) = one of the most important signals of serious marital problems, especially combined with insults or sarcasm.

29 Test the strength of your relationship in this relationship quiz
Test the strength of your relationship in this relationship quiz. (Gottman, 1992)

30 Romantic love as an attachment relationship
Hazan & Shaver, 1987 Romantic love relationships are similar, in many ways, to the attachment relationship observed between children and their parents

31 Following are descriptions of four general relationship styles that people often report. Please read each description and SELECT the letter corresponding to the style that best describes you or is closest to the way you generally are in your romantic relationships.

32 Adult Attachment Theory
Infant-caregiver bond serves the function of helping infants to regulate distress Sensitive & responsive caregivers help to calm the infant and to restore felt security Threatening situations trigger attachment behaviors Threats can be physical or psychological Parallels between infant-caregiver relationship and adult romantic relationships (Hazan & Shaver, 1987) Both types of relationships may serve this regulatory function

33 Normative processes – all people engage in these processes
Attachment theory Normative processes – all people engage in these processes Individual differences Different experiences shape mental representations (internal working models) of the self in relation to others


35 Do the four styles of attachment adequately describe the patterns in your relationships? In what ways are the categories helpful? What aspects of your relationships are not adequately captured?

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