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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

2 What factors might lead people to fall in love? –All those we’ve mentioned (proximity, familiarity, similarity, physical attractiveness) and more.

3 Two kinds of romantic love: Passionate love (state of high arousal, being in love is ecstasy) Companionate love, which is a more stable longer-term love, based on feelings of intimacy and affection.

4 Passionate love What leads to passionate love? –Culture must believe in idea of “romantic love.”

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

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

7 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

8 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)

9 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 more likely to call the attractive female E than those who had crossed the standard bridge. Limitation?

10 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 high arousal condition rated the attractive woman as more attractive and the unattractive woman as less attractive than did men in the low arousal condition.

11 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.

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

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


15 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.

16 Gupta & Singh (1982)

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

18 Sometimes conflict arises from differing expectations.

19 Video clip from “Samantha”

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

21 Video clip from “Annie Hall”

22 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)

23 Braiker & Kelley (1979)

24 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.


26 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)

27 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?

28 Video clip of the “Love Lab”

29 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?

30 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.

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