Lecture 1: The Why & How of Relationship Science Flashcards Preview

PSY424H1S: Social Psychology of Relationships with C. Midgley > Lecture 1: The Why & How of Relationship Science > Flashcards

Flashcards in Lecture 1: The Why & How of Relationship Science Deck (41)
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Why does survival tend to be higher when people form groups?

  • Access to resources
  • Division of labour
  • Assistance for the weak
  • Resolve to stay alive
    • Family members have someone else encouraging them to make it; a reason to go one step further
  • The importance of having direct social contact can’t be underestimated
    • Even in modern times, the number of healthy social ties you have can be an even greater predictor of health than physical factors


For humans, is it “survival of the fittest,” as with other animals?

  • It tends to be survival of the most social!
    • Humans who are better at keeping people around them are more likely to survive in the wilderness/hunt large game, etc.
  • We’ve evolved to be creatures that are good at maintaining social bonds & sense that it’s important for our survival
  • While we don’t technically need other people to survive anymore, social relationships are “written into our DNA” in a sense
    • It’s no longer a matter of life and death, but we experience it as if it were


What is the need to belong (Baumeister & Leary, 1995)?

A drive to establish and maintain close relationships/social contact with people you feel connected to


What are the 4 requirements for social bonds to be considered a “need” (Baumeister & Leary, 1995)?

  1. Naturally motivated to pursue it (and avoid being deprived of it)
  2. Deprivation has consequences
    • e.g. With food, if you don’t have enough of it then you die — something equally dramatic should happen without social contact
  3. Can be satiated
  4. Should see it across all cultures


Are we naturally motivated to pursue social bonds?

  • Forming social bonds happens spontaneously
    • Babies form attachments to caregivers (before able to calculate benefits, be convinced of utility)
      • You don’t have to tell a baby that it should do this – they do it naturally
    • Minimal group situations: People show in-group favouritism even when group membership is randomly assigned (e.g. Robber’s Cave Experiment)
  • There’s research that shows this is true even under adverse conditions (i.e. not just classical conditioning)
    • Participants who experienced electric shock together liked each other more than controls
    • More attachment among military veterans who experienced heavy combat
    • Readily cooperate with people who were recently rivals or are members of disliked group
  • We’re so good at it, that we
    • a) don’t need the other person to help
      • Parasocial relationships: one-sided relationships with personalities from the media
    • b) don’t even need it to be a person
      • Anthropomorphizing of pets and inanimate objects


Are we averse to being deprived of social bonds?

  • Yes, social bonds are hard to break and we don’t want others to break our bonds with them
    • Hard to end any relationship – even those that we elected to dissolved or wish to dissolve
      • Staying friends after breaking up, divorcing
      • Staying in toxic/abusive relationships
    • Has a little bit to do with concern for the other person, but it’s mostly because we’re programmed not to break social ties
  • People are reluctant to admit that even relatively meaningless relationships will end (or have ended)
    • Promising to maintain contact even when this is unlikely
      • e.g. Having hundreds of Facebook friends
      • “Why don’t you delete those friends?” – “What if I need to talk to them again?”
    • Many rituals even promote the maintenance of relatively weak social bonds
      • Christmas cards
      • High school, college reunions


Does being deprived of social bonds have negative consequences?

  • Lack of social connection is a strong predictor of mortality
    • Rivals predictors like smoking in terms of how much it contributes to someone’s death
    • i.e. In old age, someone who is lonely is at greater risk of dying than someone who regularly smokes
  • Other serious consequences of loneliness:
    • Poorer self-regulation, fewer health-promoting behaviours
    • Reduced sleep quality
    • Poorer physiological functioning (increased blood pressure, cortisol)
    • Lower immune system functioning
    • Cognitive impairment, psychological disorders


What health benefits do married couples see?

  • Happily married couples are healthier – psychologically and physically – than other groups (even non-married people in long-term relationships)
    • e.g. More than 3x likely to survive open-heart surgery
    • Extends to same-sex couples
  • Since Denmark started recognizing same-sex marriages, death rates for same-sex couples have dropped
    • i.e. Marriage added an extra layer of “protection” for these couples


Can our need to belong be satiated?

  • As an intimate relationship develops, people:
    • Spend less time with other people such as friends
    • Report lower desire for ex-partners
  • Dunbar’s number: proposed that 150 connections
    • Cognitive limit to the number of people one’s can have stable social relationships with
    • We don’t have an unlimited mental capacity/structure to keep track of an infinite number of people
  • If belongingness needs are thwarted:
    • Individuals are more attuned (than normal) to people displaying positive emotions
      • i.e. When we’re more lonely, we’re more on the lookout for potential connections, meaning we’re on the look-out for signs of friendliness
    • Help others more
      • Starting point to building trust/bonds with another person in order to start a friendship
  • Our need to belong varies from situation to situations (in accordance with how much belonging we feel we have)
    • Just like how we’re more/less hungry in certain situations


Is the need to belong universally seen across cultures?

  • Yes, although how much differs by person & situation
    • i.e. It’s not universal in the sense that everyone experiences the same need
  • People naturally form groups across cultures and experience distress when relationships end is universal
    • No evidence of cultures in which people seem happier, healthier when single (compared to when they have close relationships)
  • Across cultures, distinguish between close and less close others
    • No known cultures where there’s no hierarchy of relationships


What are the 7 ways that intimate relationships differ from more casual associations?

  1. Knowledge — personal, confidential
  2. Interdependence — the extent to which partners need and influence each other — is strong, frequent, diverse, and enduring
  3. Caring — feel more affection for one another than for most others
  4. Trust — expecting to be treated fairly and honorably
  5. Responsiveness — to needs and being concerned for welfare
  6. Mutuality — recognize their connection (thinking in “us” instead of “me” and “them”)
  7. Commitment — expect partnerships to continue indefinitely, invest time/effort/resources to pursue this goal


What are the 3 main sources of individual differences in intimate relationships?

  1. Interpersonal experiences — especially bonds with caregivers → attachment styles
    • Which is perhaps the most important factor
  2. Culture — economics, individualis, technology, sex ratios
  3. Biology — the role of sex and gender
    • Which may be a lot less important than people think it is


How can economics (culture) influence intimate relationships?

  • Societies which are more industrialized and affluent tend to tolerate more singles, divorces, and a later age of marriage
  • In general, socio economic development has been increasing around the world


How does individualism (culture) influence intimate relationships?

  • As we become more preoccupied with our own pleasures, we tend to be more materialistic, less trusting, and less concerned with others
  • Societies in which there is a more collective sense of self (e.g. Japan) tend to have lower divorce rates, compared to the USA


How does technology (culture) influence intimate relationships?

  • Women are increasingly able to control their fertility
  • An increase in technoference, the frequent interruptions of their interactions that are caused by their various technological device
    • And phubbing, when one partner snubs another by focusing on a phone


How does a country’s sex ratio (culture) influence intimate relationships?

  • Cultures with a high sex ratio (more men than women) tend to support more old-fashioned gender roles for men and women
  • Cultures with a low sex ratio (more women than men) tend to be less traditional and more permissive; e.g. seeking high-paying careers and extra-marital sexual relations


What is attachment?

  • An attachment bond is more than love/connectedness
    • i.e. Not just a positive, warm feeling towards someone
  • It’s an intimate emotional bond to a particular individual who is seen as providing protection, comfort, and support
    • Our first attachment figure is (usually) our caregiver
    • We learn about how attachment works from this person


What is John Bowlby’s attachment theory?

  • Conducted research on orphans
    • Infants who were separated from their caregivers were highly distressed
    • Often cried and clung onto caregivers in the orphanage, but always seemed to be searching
    • It’s not just about connection, but attachment with your caregiver
  • Theorized that we have an in-built attachment system which allows us to form bonds with others and leads us to become distressed if they are unavailable
    • Evolutionary function of the attachment system: keep caregivers close to infants
    • Infants cry in order to force the caregiver to come back to them – they can’t survive on their own


What are the 3 processes in Bowlby’s model of attachment?

  1. Proximity maintenance: Staying near and resisting separations from caregiver
  2. Safe haven: Turning to caregiver for comfort, support, and reassurance
  3. Secure base: Using caregiver as a base from which to engage in non-attachment behaviour (explore)


What did Bowlby suggest was the purpose of attachment?

  • An innate behavioral system
    • Behaviours that promote attachment to specific individuals who will care for and protect the vulnerable infant
    • Behavioral system is most activated when infant in danger or distress – goal is to get the caregiver to help them regulate emotional distress and restore felt security
  • (This is how it’s supposed to work theoretically, but there are a lot of individual differences)


What problems did Mary Ainsworth find in Bowlby’s attachment model?

  • Bowlby strong focused on developing normative aspects of attachment theory, but less so on individual differences
  • Normative processes—ideal situation—but, not all relationships develop in an ideal manner
  • Ainsworth was also concerned with whether children were attached, but more so with how they were attached


How can individual differences in attachment form?

  • Learn in early childhood what to expect from others
  • Based on our experiences, we develop general beliefs and expectations/working models about
    • Others: whether they will responsive to our needs
    • Self: whether we are worthy of love
  • These beliefs influence our thoughts, feelings and behavior in relationships


What is Ainsworth’s strange situation?

  • Infants and their caregiver entered an unfamiliar room containing lots of interesting toys
    • Infant plays with toys and a stranger walks in the room
    • Then, crucially the infant’s caregiver leaves the room
    • Separation causes infants to become distressed (most of the time)
    • After 3 minutes, caregiver returns
  • What happens when they return?
    • Responsive and sensitive caregiver → secure attachment (~60%)
      • Explores when CG is present and upset when CG leaves
      • Happy to see CG return; easily soothed, goes back to playing
    • Inconsistent caregiver → ambivalent attachment (~20%)
      • Clings to CG when present, extremely upset when CG leaves
      • Cannot be soothed when CG returns; mix of seeking and resisting comfort
    • Rejecting or hostile caregiver → avoidant attachment (~20%)
      • Explores when CG is present and slightly/not upset when CG leaves
      • Is distant and withdrawn, or ignores CG when they come back


How do the characteristics of the infant influence attachment styles?

  • Temperament
    • Attachment of parents matters most for infants with difficult or reactive temperaments because parents have more difficulty gauging how to appropriately respond to their infants in the future
    • Sensitivity matters important for shy infants (those who initiate interactions less)
    • Training for parents does actually help promote secure attachment
  • Susceptibility to environmental influences
    • For some people, it’s more/less nature vs. nurture, i.e. environment is more/less important for their development due to aspects of their biology (e.g. dandelion vs. orchid kids)


How does childhood attachment relate to adult attachment?

  • Attachment system appears to generalize beyond caregiver/infant relationships to close relationships in adulthood
  • With adults, we measure 2 dimensions of attachment
    • Avoidance of intimacy: affects the ease and trust with which they accept interdependent intimacy with others; tend to distrust others, value their independence, and keep their emotional distance
    • Anxiety about abandonment: the dread that others will find them unworthy and leave them; uneasy about being in an interdependent relationship due to possible mistreatment
  • Avoidance vs. abandonment are on a continuous scale from low to high
    • The biggest distinction is focussing on people who are secure and those who aren’t


How do we measure adult attachment?

  • Scales of low/high avoidance and anxiety form 4 different quadrants of attachment which people can fall into
    • These are theoretical orthogonal constructs; they’re independent of each other
    • Generally, you won’t find fearful-avoidant people because they’re fairly rare in the population
    • You also don’t usually find anxious-preoccupied people in studies because they’re not the type of people who’d voluntarily participate in psychology experiments about relationships
  • Most people tend to fall more in the middle of these scales, towards the secure side, rather than in the extremes of high/low


What is secure attachment (low anxiety and low avoidance)?

  • Working model of others: Positive
    • History of warm and responsive interactions with attachment figures
  • Working model of self: Positive
    • Believes self to be worthy of responsive caregiving
  • Learned that proximity seeking leads to support, protection, and relief of distress
    • Turn to others when distressed; believe distress is manageable
    • More stable and satisfying relationships


What is anxious-preoccupied attachment (high anxiety and low avoidance)?

  • Working model of others: Positive
    • History of inconsistent responsiveness from attachment figures; know others are capable of responsiveness
  • Working model of self: Negative
    • Blame self for others’ lack of responsiveness; doubt self-worth
  • Learned that others are capable of providing support, but are not sure when it will be provided or taken away
    • Hypervigilant about loss and rejection
    • When distressed, excessive reliance on others
      • Demanding of closeness, attention and approval
  • In relationships, are intrusive, demanding, and overly disclosing
    • Also have a particularly hard time getting over break-ups


What is dismissive-avoidant attachment (low anxiety and high avoidance)?

  • Working model of others: Negative
    • History of unresponsive or rejecting attachment figures
  • Working model of self: Positive
    • View themselves as self-sufficient
  • Learned that proximity seeking does NOT lead to support, protection and relief of distress
    • Avoid seeking support when distressed; instead, value self-reliance and independence
  • Relationships lack intimacy
    • Keep partners at a distance, averse to commitment
    • Report feeling a sense of relief after break-ups


What is fearful-avoidant attachment (high anxiety and high avoidance)?

  • Working model of others: Negative
    • History of neglect or abuse from attachment figures
  • Working model of self: Negative
    • Blame self for others’ lack of responsiveness; doubt self-worth
  • High anxiety: hypersensitive to potential hurt and rejection
  • High avoidance: withdraws when upset; avoidant coping
  • Relatively poor personal and social adjustment
    • Difficulty expressing feelings