Lecture 4: Interdependency Flashcards Preview

PSY424H1S: Social Psychology of Relationships with C. Midgley > Lecture 4: Interdependency > Flashcards

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What are interdependency and social exchange?

  • interdependency: when we need others and they need us in order to obtain valuable interpersonal rewards
    • Interdependency theories assume that we’re all like shoppers in an interpersonal marketplace: We’re all seeking the most fulfilling relationships that are available to us
  • social exchange: a process in which two people each provide to the other benefits and rewards that the other wants


What is Kelley & Thibaut’s (1959; 1978) interdependence theory?

  • There are rewards and costs to any relationship
    • rewards: anything within an interaction that is desirable, welcome, and brings enjoyment or fulfilment to the recipient (e.g. acceptance, support)
    • costs: punishing, undesirable experiences (e.g. financial expenditures, uncertainty, frustration)
  • People try to maximize rewards while minimizing costs; want best possible outcome
    • Outcomes = Rewards – Costs
    • Not only trying to maximize rewards and minimize costs so that the outcome is positive, but you want the outcome to be as good as possible
  • The absence of cost is not itself a reward; they are separate concepts


What is a comparison level (CL)?

Kelley & Thibaut’s (1959; 1978) interdependence theory

  • comparison level (CL): the value of the outcomes that we believe we deserve in our dealings with others
    • They are the standards by which our satisfaction with a relationship is measured
  • How happy you are depends on the extent to which your outcomes surpass your expectations
    • i.e. Even if you’re making a profit on your dealings with others, you may not be happy if the profit isn’t big enough to meet your expectations
  • Outcomes – CL = Satisfaction or Dissatisfaction


What is a comparison level for alternatives (CLalt)?

Kelley & Thibaut’s (1959; 1978) interdependence theory

  • comparison level for alternatives (CLalt): whether we could be getting better outcomes somewhere else; determines our dependence on current relationship
    • The lowest levels of outcome we’d tolerate from our present partners
    • It wouldn’t matter if we’re currently satisfied with what we’re getting if we could be doing even better somewhere else
      • Can explain why people don’t leave bad relationships; may not have better alternatives
  • Outcomes – CLalt = Dependence or Independence
    • Your CLalt is whatever you think it is, so people with lower self-esteem might doubt their own desirability
    • Or you might be so absorbed in your current relationship you don’t notice the alternatives


What determines our CL and CLalt?

  • Experiences
    • Great relationships can increase our CLs
      • e.g. If you come to expect more of your partner over time once you get used to all the nice things they do for you
    • Negative relationships can decrease our CLs and CLalts
  • Sociocultural shifts
    • Expectations for romance (increased CLs)
      • e.g. Compared to 30 years ago, we expect much more spiritual kinds of fulfillment and constant companionship from our partners
    • Women’s increased participation in workforce (increased CLalts)
    • Internet (increased CLalts); i.e. having more access to partners
    • The social cost of divorce has decreased


How does the principle of lesser interest influence how two people’s CLalts will interact with each other?

  • principle of lesser interest: the partner who depends less on a relationship has more power in that relationship
  • e.g. If two people’s Outcomes are the same, but one person’s CLaltis higher than the other’s; i.e. one person needs the other more (if the relationship ended, he would lose more by moving to his next best option than she would)


Explain Gottman & Levenson’s (1992) study on the relative importance of rewards and costs.

  • Married couples asked to revisit the topic of their last argument
    • Coded discussions
    • +1 point for any attempt at warmth, humor, collaboration, or compromise
    • -1 point for any display of anger, defensiveness, criticism, or contempt
  • Results: The longer some couples talked, the more positive their conversations became (low-risk couples)
    • Maintained at least a 5:1 positive to negative ratio
    • For other couples (high-risk), the longer they talked, the worse their scores got
  • After the discussion, low-risk couples were more satisfied with marriages than the high-risk couples
    • 4 years later, only 24% of low-risk couples split up (vs. 56% of the high-risk couples)
  • Conclusion: Need substantially more rewards than costs to maintain happy long-term relationships


If relationships are about maintaining a high rewards to costs ratio, why are there so many unhappy couples?

  • Romantic partners might not notice all of the loving and affectionate behaviors their lovers provide
    • One study found that both men and women failed to notice about 1/4 of the positive behaviors that their partners said they performed” across 4 weeks
  • Partners may disagree about the meaning and value of the rewards they exchange
    • e.g. In one study, when spouses are asked what they would change if they could, wives say they desire more emotion and affection from their husbands whereas the husbands say they want more sex


What is the difference between obtaining rewards and avoiding costs?

  • approach motivation: the desire for pleasurable experiences
    • Motivation for doing something is to feel good, and when we draw near to—or approach—desired experiences, we feel positive emotions such as enthusiasm and excitement
  • avoidance motivation: desire to avoid costs
    • Seek to elude or escape punishment and pain, so we strive to avoid undesired experiences and to reduce negative feelings such as anxiety and fear
  • These two aren’t different sides of a coin that cancel each other out; pleasure and pain are different, independent processes
  • What are the 4 different kinds of relationship combinations?
    • In a really great relationship, we’re able to fulfill both motivations at the same time; such relationships are flourishing
    • Relationships in which costs are high and rewards are low, and neither needs are being fulfilled, we feel distressed
    • When avoidance goals are fulfilled (costs and annoyances are low) but approach motivation if unfulfilled, we feel bored
      • And boredom now is linked to dissatisfaction later
    • When there are high rewards and high costs, such relationships are precarious


What is the self-expansion model?

  • self-expansion model: model of motivation that says we are attracted to partnerships that expand the range of our interests, skills, and experiences
    • Self-expansion usually slows once a new partner becomes familiar, and that’s when many partnerships begin to feel more bland and ordinary
    • Key to combating this is finding creative ways to continue your personal growth
  • Example of a model that isn’t just about gaining rewards and reducing costs


How do rewards and costs in relationships change over time?

  • At the onset of relationships, there is typically a rapid increase in satisfaction (driven by increase in rewards)
  • As partners spend more and more time together, they disrupt each others’ routines more (increase in costs)
    • relational turbulence: we should expect a period of adjustment and turmoil as new partners become accustomed to their increasing interdependence
      • Partners who are uncertain about where the relationship is going will feel more unease
      • Transitioning from casual dating to more committed relationships might mean loss of some autonomy, not seeing their friends as often, etc.
  • If manage to adjust, relationship continues to develop and satisfaction increases again
  • After marriage, most couples experience gradual declines in satisfaction over time (lower rewards + higher costs)
    • Put less effort in
    • Increased sensitivity to existing annoyances
    • New challenges/external stressors (e.g. kids)
    • Overall trajectory of lower rewards and increasing (either large or small increase) of rewards
  • But the good news is that 1/4 couples don’t experience large declines in happiness, even decades later
    • The happiest spouses tend to be low in neuroticism, high in self-esteem, don’t encounter economic/health problems, and have better communication
    • And people who have realistic expectations of married life are also happier


Explain the results of Clark & Mills’ (2011) experiment on communal and exchange relationships.

  • exchange relationships: benefits are given with expectation of receiving a comparable benefit in return
    • Colleagues, acquaintances, strangers
  • communal relationships: benefits are given non-contingently (i.e. without expectation of receiving a comparable benefit in return)
    • Family (especially parent-child relationships), friends, romantic partners
  • Relationships can be more or less communal (i.e. be low or high on communal strength)
  • When people are primed to think that they won’t see someone again, they tended to like getting credit for a favor
    • But being in a communal relationship, they didn’t like getting credit for doing a favor
    • When people behave in a way that confirms to what you think about your relationship, their actions furthered the relationship (e.g. dog-sitting your friend’s dog and not expecting to be paid)
    • But non-conformational behavior increases friction (e.g. dog-sitting your friend’s dog and they try to pay you; dog-sitting for a stranger and they don’t end up paying you)


What is the equity framework and how might relationships be imbalanced?

  • equity framework: people are most satisfied in relationships in which there is proportional justice; i.e. each partner gains benefits that are proportional to his/her contributions
  • over-benefitting: compared to other person, your outcomes are relatively greater than contributions
    • Likely to feel uncomfortable and guilty
  • under-benefitting: compared to other person, your outcomes are relatively less than contributions
    • Likely to feel exploited, angry, or resentful
  • Equally benefiting partners tend to feel the most relaxed and content
  • However, overall level of reward received may be more important than equity


How might individuals differ in their perceptions of proportional justice in relationships?

  • Some people are value equity more than others, and are more satisfied when equity exists in their relationships
    • However, these people seem to also be less satisfied with relationships overall
    • May be paying too close attention to rewards and costs
  • Equity matters more in some contexts over others; two most important areas are household tasks and child care
    • Unfortunately, equitable allocation of these duties is often difficult for married women to obtain; even when they have similar job responsibilities outside the home, women provide more child care and do about twice as many household chores as their husbands do
  • Equity is a salient issue when people are dissatisfied, but it’s only a minor issue when people are content


What is commitment?

  • commitment: the desire for the relationship to continue and the inclination to work to maintain it
  • However, absent from this definition is the emotional aspect


What are the 3 factors in Arriaga & Agnew’s (2001) commitment scale?

  1. Committed partners expect their relationship to continue
  2. They hold a long-term view, foreseeing a future that involves their partners
  3. They are psychologically attached to each other so that they are happier when their partners are happy, too


What is Rusbult et al.’s (1994) investment model?

  • investment model: proposes that commitment emerges from all of the elements of social exchange that are associated with people’s CLs and CLalts
  • Commitment has 3 components:
    • Satisfaction: are you happy?
    • Investment: how many resources (time, effort, etc.) have you put into the relationship?
    • Quality of alternatives: how appealing are your other options?
  • Maintaining commitment is a cyclical process:
    • Being satisfied, having made investments, and perceiving low quality of alternatives lead to being more committed
    • In turn, being more committed leads to behaviours and cognitive processes that reinforce or maintain our commitment


What are the 3 main ways people demonstrate behavioural maintenance?

  • Willingness to respond constructively to destructive acts (accommodation)
    • More likely to suggest discussion vs. getting angry, yelling, etc.
    • More likely to give partner a chance to improve (believe that their partner will change and do things differently next time)
  • Willingness to forgive, even major transgressions
  • Willingness to sacrifice for partner
  • People who are more committed tend to show more of these behaviors


What are the 4 main strategies of cognitive maintenance?

  • Cognitive interdependence
    • Merging of the self and other
    • Motivated reasoning (or positive illusions, “rose colored glasses”)
    • Turn partner’s faults into virtues
  • Perceive relationship as superior to others
    • Unwarranted optimism
    • Unrealistic perceptions of control
  • Less likely to notice alternatives
    • Underestimate number of available people
    • Pay less visual attention to images of alternatives
  • And when do notice alternatives,
    • Suppress thoughts about them
    • Augment own partner’s attractiveness
    • Derogate those who are threatening (i.e. attractive, available)


Explain Miller & Maner’s (2010) experiment demonstrating how men derogate attractive alternatives.

  • Undergraduate men interacted with a 21-year old female confederate who was
    • Not taking HCs
    • Average attractiveness
  • Interacted for 20 min on various days of 3 different menstrual cycles
    • On days when the female confederate was ovulating, men’s ratings of her attractiveness increased
    • Whereas men who were in a relationship rated her as significantly less attractive during these days
  • Evidence that fertility cues evoke relationship maintenance processes in committed men


What are the nuances of commitment which aren’t explained by the investment model?

  • Your forecast of how satisfying the partnership will be in the future
  • There are different types of commitment
    • Personal commitment = want to continue
      • Attracted to partners, relationship is satisfying
    • Constraint commitment = have to continue
      • Would be too costly (either financially or socially) to leave
    • Moral commitment = ought to continue
      • Would be improper to end relationship; often feel solemn social or religious responsibility to stay


Explain Rhoades et al.’s (2009) study on cohabitation and commitment.

  • M & F participants (N = 1050)
    • Married within last 10 years
    • Aged 18-34
    • Mostly white and in 1st marriage
  • Classified people as having begun cohabiting
    • Before getting engaged
    • After getting engaged
    • Not until they got married
  • Question: Would there be a difference in marital satisfaction or divorce rates among these three groups?
  • Results: People who cohabitated before getting engaged (vs. after getting engaged or married) reported
    • Lower relationship satisfaction
    • Lower relationship confidence
    • Higher rates of negative communication
    • Greater potential for divorce
    • These results were still significant even after controlling for factors such as belief in marriage, religiosity, etc.
  • Why?
    • Common reasons for cohabitation:
      • Cost and/or convenience
      • To test the relationship
      • Failure to take into account how cohabiting increases certain aspects of commitment
    • Investments (e.g. pets, finances)
    • Constraint commitment (e.g. lease)
    • But not necessarily satisfaction
    • Increased commitment can result in getting married – but possibly for the “wrong” reasons
      • “Sliding into marriage”


What is the role of attachment styles in commitment?

  • Higher Avoidance
    • More attentive and attracted to alternatives; keep track of other romantic options and are more attracted to newcomers they meet
    • Experience/expect less reward from close connections (i.e. lower satisfaction)
    • Less comfortable with communal norms
  • Higher Anxiety
    • Overly focused on avoiding conflict, other costs, resulting in lower satisfaction
  • Secure
    • More satisfied, thus committed AND have partners who are more committed


How does commitment help keep a relationship together?

  • In all LTRs, periods of low relationship satisfaction are inevitable
  • Commitment can lead people to think of themselves and their partners as a single entity, as “us” instead of “him” and “me”
    • May reduce the costs of sacrifices that benefit the partner, as events that please one’s partner produce indirect benefits for oneself as well
  • People high in commitment are also high in
    • accommodation: when people refrain from responding to provocation from their partners with similar ire of their own
    • willingness to sacrifice: commitment increases sacrifice of own self-interests for the good of the relationship
    • derogation of tempting alternatives: reduces the allure of those who might otherwise entice us away from our present partners, and that helps protect our partnerships
  • However, we should also be aware of how different commitment factors may be keeping us in unhappy relationships
    • Important to think about not just how committed you are, but why