Thursday, September 27, 2007

Lecture 7: Relationships (Brief Overview)

In Lecture 7: Relationships we explored topics such as:
  • Attraction: e.g., what causes it? Similarity, propinquity (psychological exposure/proximity), arousal, cultural norms, hormones (incl. testosterone), beauty, etc.
  • Rejection: what causes it and what are its effects? e.g,. numbness, confusion, shame, increased pain tolerance, more likely to eat junk food, etc.
  • Social Exchange Theory and Investment Models of Relationships: which view relationships as economic-like transactions and which make sense from an evolutionary and cognitive point of view
  • Beauty: Symmetry, "what-is-beautiful-is-good", variations across culture, time, and gender; Evolutionary explanations (Women: health, fertility, youth; Men: stability, resources, status)
  • Types of love: Passionate (short-term, physiological arousing, intense, dominant) and Compassionate (longer-lasting, caring, understanding, etc.), Exchange vs. Communal, Sternberg's Triangular Model (Passionate, Intimate, Commitment), Schacter's two factor emotion model (arousal + cognitive interpretation towards an appropriate love object), Hatfield & Walster's (1981) 3-factor theory of romantic love (which basically adds culture to Schacter's model).
  • Attachment styles: Based on Freudian and learning theory, as well animal experiments and human research, psychologists have suggested that adult attachment styles derive to a significant degree from infant and early childhood attachment styles which can range between being overly clingy (Anxious/Ambivalent) to balanced (Secure), to being overly distant and uncomfortable with people getting too close (Avoidant).
  • Maintaining relationships: Idealised picture of one another and the relationship (even though relationships tend not to improve over time) as well as devaluing alternatives (e.g., happily married men rate potential alternative partners as less attractive); secret is avoiding downward spiral e.g., tit-for-tat negative reciprocation, social allergies (small annoying habits become more irritating over time), and relationship-destabilising attributions (i.e., making global, stable, internal attributions for each other's failings and specific, unstable, external attributions for each other's successes). People will tend to stay in relationships in part because of "sunk investment" and the costs and risks involved in switching to an alternative.
  • Ending relationships: Various models describe a period of waiting to see if things will improve and brooding, then accelerated deteriorating through neglect and/or active seeking of alternatives, direct confrontation (voice behaviour), exit behaviour, and then a moratorium period including "grave-dressing" during which the relationship is buried and grieved, so that the partners can get closure and move on.

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