Chapter Review

Characterizing Relationships

  • Relationships come into being when individuals depend on one another for help in meeting life’s demands.
  • There is a biologically based need to belong, evident in the evolutionary benefits and universality of different relationships and in the negative consequences that accompany the absence of relationships.
  • Relationships shape the sense of self and how social events are remembered and explained. People have certain relational selves, or beliefs, feelings, and expectations that derive from their relationships with particular other people. When one of these is activated by a particular person, that person is seen in light of the relevant relational self.
  • Clark and Mills have contrasted communal relationships that are often long term with exchange relationships that are often of short duration and are governed by concerns of equity.
  • We tend to like those who provide us with the greatest rewards. Social exchange theory holds that people pursue those interactions that provide the most favorable difference between rewards and costs.
  • John Bowlby’s attachment theory holds that early in development, children rely on their parents for a sense of security. Attachment styles vary along the two dimensions of anxiety (fear of rejection) and avoidance (discomfort with intimacy). For example, people with a secure attachment style are neither anxious nor avoidant; they are comfortable with intimacy and, when stressed, wish to be close to other people. Attachment styles are somewhat stable over the life span and can have wide-ranging effects on an individual’s well-being.


  • Proximity, or sheer closeness of contact, leads to attraction. Three reasons for the power of proximity are sheer availability, anticipation of interaction, and the mere exposure effect.
  • Similarity also leads to attraction. Studies invariably find that people like individuals who resemble them more than individuals who do not. There is scant evidence that "opposites attract."
  • Physically attractive people are much more popular with the opposite sex, earn more money, and receive lighter sentences for crimes. Because of the halo effect, they are believed to have many positive qualities that go beyond their physical appearance.
  • Physical appearance affects the lives of women more than men. At work, for example, women deemed unattractive fare much worse than men considered unattractive.
  • Evolutionary psychologists argue that we are attracted to features that signify reproductive fitness—the capacity to reproduce our genes in future generations if we were to mate and have children with a person who possesses those features. These include physical characteristics that signal vitality, fertility, and likely reproductive success.
  • In species in which parental investment is greater for the female, the males must compete vigorously among themselves (intrasex competition) for access to choosy females. The males also must compete for the females’ attention (intersex attraction) and so are typically the louder and gaudier of the species.
  • Evolutionary psychologists believe that differential parental investment by men and women leads men to prefer women whose physical appearance gives the impression that they will be fertile. Women are attracted to men who can be expected to provide for them and their -children—men who are strong, industrious, and have social status.
  • Though much evidence supports the hypotheses of evolutionary psychologists, most of the human findings can be explained without resorting to an evolutionary explanation. The strongest support for the evolutionary approach to attractiveness in humans comes from studies showing that women increase their preference for attractive (or at least symmetrical) and masculine men during the ovulatory phase of their menstrual cycles, when they have a higher probability of conceiving.

Romantic Relationships

  • Romantic relationships are an important part of social life, and they are important to our satisfaction with our lives and even our physical health. -According to the triangular theory of love, romantic love is founded on passion, intimacy, and commitment.
  • According to the investment model of relationships, happy romantic relations are affected by commitment, which is a function of rewards in the relationship, alternatives to the relationship, and investments in the relationship.
  • Longitudinal research has identified several factors that predict romantic problems. Divorce and marital dissatisfaction are often caused by marrying young, criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling, contempt, and blame.
  • Research has also uncovered some important elements of satisfied romantic relationships. Happy couples capitalize on the good events in their lives, they have fun, and they have more positive illusions about their partners.
  • In many cultures, marriages are arranged by a couple’s parents. Love—not necessarily the romantic kind—is expected to follow marriage.