evidence to support and
theories of relationship
theories using evidence.
theories using synoptic
How will I know if I am learning?
By the end of the lesson…
Will be able to describe studies.
C Will be able to evaluate economic theories using
Will be able to evaluate economic theories using
1) Identify what Rusbult means by
the term ‘investment’ and give examples.
Activity 2) Describe the procedure, findings
& conclusion of the study.
Activity 3) Illustrate how abusive
relationships are maintained by showing
how such a relationship can still be
considered profitable to the person being
the room are a series of studies on
economic theories of relationships.
must choose 4 to make notes on and fill out
– What is the study? Describe it.
– What does the study suggest? Which
theory does it support or challenge?
– Is there anything wrong with the
study? Is it up for debate? Can you evaluate it in
terms of AO3 methods?
and Clark (1980) identified two kinds of
intimate relationship: (a) the communal couple,
where each partner gives out of concern for the
other; (b) the exchange couple, where each
keeps mental records of who is ‘ ahead’ and who
is ‘behind’. This indicates that there are different
types of relationships and that SET can be applied
to some of them, but not universally to all.
(2005) claimed that people are capable
of being unselfish – doing things for others without
expecting anything in return – most evident in
relationships with those emotionally closest to us.
Sedikides believed that individuals can bolster their
partners’ self-systems when they are faced with
failure and other stressful life events. Therefore, the
view of humans as being out for what they can get
is simplistic and inaccurate.
(1989) looked at people who felt over-or
under-benefited. The under-benefited felt angry
and deprived, while the over-benefited felt guilty
and uncomfortable, supporting the theory by
suggesting that regardless of whether individuals
are benefited, they do not desire to maintain a
relationship that is not fair.
(1998) suggests that such
‘economic’ theories only apply to Western
relationships and even then only to certain shortterm relationships among individuals with high
mobility. One group of people who fit this
description are students in Western societies. They
are typically very mobile and experience many
short-term romantic relationships. Where there is
little time to develop long-term commitment, it
makes sense to be concerned with give-and-take.
However, long-term relationships within other less
mobile population groups, particularly in nontraditional societies, are more likely to value
security than personal profit.
Research suggests that men and women might judge
the equity of a relationship differently. For example,
Steil and Weltman (1991) found that, among married
working couples, husbands who earned more than their
wives rates their own careers as more important than
their wives’ careers. In such couples the women
generally also rated their husbands’ careers as more
important than their own. However, in couples where
the women’s income exceeded the man’s, neither
partner rated their career as more important.
Researchers concluded that: ‘wives’ tendency to seek
less for themselves than comparable men making
comparable contributions… impeded the
achievement of equality at home’.
Van Yperen and Buunk (1990) carried out a longitudinal
study using 250 couples recruited by way of an advert
in a local paper. Eighty-six per cent were married and
the remainder were cohabiting. They obtained a score
for equity in the relationship using Hatfield’s Global
Measurement of Satisfaction (Hatfield et al., 1990) and
found that about 65 per cent of men and women felt
that their relationship was equitable, about 25 per cent
of men felt over-benefited, and about the same
number of women felt under-benefited.
One year later the couples were asked about
satisfaction in their relationship. Those who felt their
relationship was equitable at stage 1 were the most
satisfied, the over-benefited were next and the underbenefited were least satisfied, supporting the equity
Gottman & Levenson (1992) found that in successful
marriages the ratio of positive to negative
exchanges was around 5:1, however in unsuccessful
marriages this ratio was lower at 1:1. This suggests
that relationships should have more positive
exchanges and less negative exchanges.
Using your table to help you…
Decide how we can evaluate
maintenance theories using
the different prompts.
If you don’t think a prompt is
a relevant evaluation point…
Make sure you think about
Mills & Clark – Economic theories cannot explain all
relationships. They are not universal to all.
Moghaddam (1998) – Economic theories only apply to
westernised cultures. E.g. students with high social
Steil & Weltman (1991) – There are gender differences
in what is judged as equity.
Gottman & Levenson (1992) – Relationships should have more
positive exchanges. This has implications for couple therapy.
Behavioural Couple’s therapy helps them to break negative
Focuses too much on individual’s perspective rather than social
aspects of a relationship such as communication and shared
events. Too much focus on selfish nature of people! Are people
really that selfish?