Intimate Relationships - eClass

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2022 • 315 Pages • 2 MB • English
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Summary of Intimate Relationships - eClass

Intimate Relationships Intimate Relationships covers both classic and current material in a concise yet thorough and rigorous manner. Chapters range from attraction to love, attachment to jealousy, sex- uality to confl ict—all written in a warm, personal, and engaging voice. Topics are viewed from an interdisciplinary perspective fi rmly grounded in research. Examples and stories from everyday life lead into each chapter to stir a student’s engagement with the material, and critical thinking prompts throughout the text aid his or her refl ection on the issues and theories presented. Each chapter is organized around major relationship issues and relevant theories, in addition to a critical evaluation of the research. When appropriate, the authors discuss and evaluate popular ideas about intimate relationships in the context of scientifi c research. This Third Edition has been thoroughly updated and revised to include the latest fi nd- ings and topics in relationship science, including the role of the Internet in today’s relation- ships. Students will benefi t from a revised chapter on sexuality that refl ects current views on sexual orientation and sexual pathways, as well as a forward-looking chapter on the evolution and diversity of relationships in the 21st century. A companion website accessible at provides instructors with PowerPoint presentations and a test bank, and provides students with fl ashcards of key terms as well as learning outcomes and chapter outlines for each chapter. Ralph Erber is professor of psychology at DePaul University. He received his Ph.D. in psychology from Carnegie Mellon University. His work has been published in a number of places, including the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology , the Journal of Experi- mental Social Psychology , and the European Journal of Social Psychology . He is also the author and editor of several books, including Understanding Genocide: The Social Psychology of the Holocaust and Social Psychology: A Story-Telling Approach (with Len Newman). Maureen Wang Erber is professor of psychology at Northeastern Illinois University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Greensborough. Her work has been published in a number of places, including the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology . Her research interests include trust and confl ict in intimate relationships and mate-choice copying. Intimate Relationships Issues, Theories, and Research Third Edition Ralph Erber and Maureen Wang Erber Third edition published 2018 by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 and by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4RN Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2018 Taylor & Francis The right of Ralph Erber and Maureen Wang Erber to be identified as authors of this work has been asserted by them in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. First edition published by Allyn & Bacon 2000 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Erber, Ralph, author. | Erber, Maureen Wang, author. Title: Intimate relationships : issues, theories, and research / Ralph Erber, Maureen Wang Erber. Description: Third Edition. | New York : Routledge, 2018. | Revised edition of the authors’ Intimate relationships, c2011. | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2017016016 | ISBN 9781138240292 (hb : alk. paper) | ISBN 9781315110103 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Man-woman relationships. | Interpersonal relations. Classification: LCC BF575.I5 E73 2018 | DDC 158.2—dc23 LC record available at ISBN: 978-1-138-24029-2 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-315-11010-3 (ebk) Typeset in Sabon by Apex CoVantage, LLC Visit the companion website: 1 Strangers, Friends, and Lovers: Why Is Life So Complicated? 1 The Need to Belong 2 Ostracism 3 Distinct Relationship Needs 3 The Inevitability of Social Relationships 4 Intimate Relationships Yesterday and Today 5 The Way We Were 5 The Way We Are Now 6 Summary 10 2 Methods to Study Relationships 11 The Science of Intimate Relationships 11 Methodology: Data Collection and Analysis 12 Archival Research 13 Systematic Observation 13 Interviews and Surveys 15 Interpreting Survey Data: Correlations 17 Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Research 18 Experimentation 19 Collecting Couple Data 21 Ethical Considerations 21 Data Collection in Real Time: Recording Ongoing Interactions 22 Speed-Dating as a Research Paradigm 24 Data Collection in the Internet Age 24 Meta-Analysis: The Analysis of Analyses 25 Summary 26 3 Physical Attraction 28 Physical Attractiveness and Dating Choices 29 Standards of Attractiveness: Bodies and Faces 30 Mirror, Mirror . . . 30 Contents vi Contents Evolution and Attractiveness 32 The Importance of Averageness and Symmetry 33 Cognitive Mechanisms 35 The Physical Attractiveness Stereotype: Beauty Is as Beauty Does 36 The “What Is Beautiful Is Good” Stereotype 36 Cute Boys and Girls Are Better People, Too 37 Infants Prefer Beautiful Faces 38 Socialization 38 Is the Attractiveness Stereotype Culturally Universal? 39 “Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful”: Some Ugly Truths About Attractiveness 40 Is Beauty Solely in the Eye of the Beholder? 42 Context Influences 42 Dispositional Influences 43 Attractiveness and Dating: A Reprise 44 Summary 46 4 Psychological Attraction 48 Theory-Driven Approaches 48 Implicit Egotism 48 Learning Principles 49 Attraction as Misattribution of Arousal 50 Characteristics of Others (Part I): The Gleam of Praise 53 Characteristics of Others (Part II): Agreement Is Everything 55 Similarity: Do Birds of a Feather Flock Together? 57 Complementarity: Do Opposites Attract? 59 Phenomenon-Driven Approaches 63 Proximity: Marrying the Boy or Girl Next Door 63 Playing “Hard to Get”: Do We Love Those We Cannot Have? 64 The Allure of Secret Relationships 64 Summary 66 5 Self-Presentation and Self-Disclosure 68 Self-Presentation 68 Self-Presentation Norms 70 Self-Presentation in the Heat of the Interaction 71 Detecting Deceit in Self-Presentation 72 Virtual Self-Presentation 72 Models of Self-Disclosure 73 Self-Disclosure as Social Penetration 74 Self-Disclosure Reciprocity 75 Individual Differences in Self-Disclosure 77 Contents vii Context Influences on Self-Disclosure 80 Self-Disclosure in Mature Relationships 81 Summary 82 6 Fairness and Equity 85 The Nature of Resources Exchanged 86 Rewards and Costs 86 Variety of Resources Exchanged 86 Determining What Is Fair: Equity Theory 87 Establishing Whether There Is Equity 88 Do People Really Seek Equity? 89 Reactions to Inequity 90 Evaluating Relationship Outcomes: Comparison Levels 92 The Thibaut and Kelley Model 92 The Investment Model 94 Close Relationships as Communal Relationships 95 Giving and Receiving Benefits 96 Controversies Surrounding the Communal-Exchange Distinction 98 Communal Orientation and Relationship Satisfaction 99 Summary 100 7 Love and Emotion 102 Liking and Loving: A Conceptual Distinction 103 The Prototype of Love 104 Causal Theories of Love 105 The Evolution of Love 105 Love as Misattribution of Arousal 107 Love as Preoccupation With the Other 107 Type Theories of Love 109 The Colors of Love 109 Research on Love Styles 111 A Triangular Theory of Love 112 Passionate Love and Companionate Love 113 Individual Differences in Love 115 Gender 115 Age and Relationship Duration 115 Love Over Time: Does It Get Better or Worse? 117 Beyond Love: A Quick Look at Guilt 117 Summary 119 8 Attachment 121 Patterns of Attachment in Infancy 122 Causes of Different Attachment Patterns 123 viii Contents Adult Attachment 124 From Infant Attachment to Adult Attachment: Models of Transition 128 Consequences of Adult Attachment Styles 129 Summary 136 9 Sexuality 138 Attitudes About Sex: An Evolving Story 138 Sexual Behavior 139 A Brief History of Research on Sex 139 Sexual Behavior in the United States Today 140 Sexual Satisfaction 141 Sex Around the World 141 Sexual Satisfaction, Relationship Satisfaction, Intimacy, and Commitment 142 Sexual Communication 143 Flirtation 143 Initiating Sex 144 Sexual Pathways 146 Extradyadic Sex 146 Serial Monogamy 147 Consensual Non-Monogamy (CNM) 147 Asexuality 149 Other Pathways to Sex: Hookups and Friends With Benefits 149 Same-Sex Attraction 151 Biological Essentialism 151 Gay Brothers, but Not Lesbian Sisters: Impact of Environment on Development 152 Female Sexuality and Sexual Fluidity 153 Summary 155 10 Communication and Relationship Management 158 Sex Differences in Communication 158 Interruptions: Let Me Finish, Please! 160 Language Use and Conversation Management 162 Emotionality and Support 165 Men and Women: Different Cultures, Different Planets? 166 Different Cultures, Different Skills, or Different “Degrees”? 168 Managing Relationships 170 Transactive Memory in Close Relationships 170 Creating and Maintaining Satisfying Relationships 171 The Special Case of Long-Distance Relationships 174 Summary 177 Contents ix 11 Infidelity and Jealousy 179 Infidelity and Jealousy Across Time and Cultures 179 Fidelity and Infidelity 179 A Brief History of Jealousy 180 Defining Jealousy 181 Envy: I Want What I Cannot Have 183 Sources of Jealousy: The Jealous Person, the Partner, and the Rival 184 The Jealous Person 184 The Partner 184 The Rival 186 Social-Cognitive Approaches to Jealousy 187 Reactions to Jealousy 188 Gender Differences in Perceptions of Threat 188 Gender and Reactions to Jealousy: “Every Breath You Take . . . I’ll Be Watching You” 190 Coping With the Green-Eyed Monster 191 An Attachment Approach to Jealousy 192 Summary 194 12 Relationship Violence and Abuse 195 Relationship Violence: Its Definition and Measurement 196 Consequences of Relationship Violence 197 Causes of Relationship Violence 198 Common Beliefs and Realities 198 Alcohol and Relationship Violence 200 The Macrocontext of Relationship Violence 202 The Microcontext of Relationship Violence: Individual Dispositions 205 Sexual Violence 209 Sexual Harassment 210 Stranger Harassment 212 Coercive Sex 212 Summary 215 13 Conflict: Causes and Consequences 217 Conflict Between Lovers and Strangers 217 The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Conflict in Intimate Relationships 218 Defining Conflict 219 From Order to Disorder: Types of Conflict 219 Sources of Conflict: “I Said . . . You Said . . .” 220 Gender and Conflict: “He Said . . . She Said . . .” 221 Age and Conflict 222 Attribution and Conflict: Partner-Level Sources of Conflict 223 x Contents Reactions to Conflict 224 Expression Versus Avoidance 225 Affect Reciprocity and Attribution 226 Attachment Style and Conflict Resolution 226 Transforming Relationships—From Conflict to Growth 227 The Social Skill of Conflict Resolution 228 Conflict in Context 229 The Gospel According to John Gottman 230 Dissolution of Intimate Relationships: The End of Romance 231 Causes of Dissolution 231 Barriers to Dissolution 232 Alternatives to Dissolution 232 Relationship Maintenance and Repair 233 Therapy Approaches: How Well Do They Work? 233 Forgiveness—Love Means You Should Say You’re Sorry 234 Summary 236 14 Intimate Relationships in the 21st Century 238 Dating and Mating in the Internet Age 238 Online Dating 239 The Evolution of Marriage 241 The Problem With Divorce 242 Diversity of Marriage 244 Marriage Equality 244 Being and Remaining Single 245 Summary 246 References 249 Index 293 Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not acciden- tally is either beneath our notice or more than human. . . . Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god. —Aristotle Aristotle wrote these words a long time ago. Chances are he intended his insights to apply to men and women alike. In any event, the idea that humans, by nature, are social creatures is as old as or older than civilization itself, and it permeates the social sciences to this very day (e.g., Aronson, 2011). And it’s likely that our social nature compels us toward activities that require the presence and cooperation of others to make them enjoyable or even possible. Dancing, playing ball, or going on a date are practically impossible to do if not for the presence of at least one other person. At the same time, the enjoyment from going out to dinner or taking a vacation is often diminished when not shared with others. More importantly, there is reason to believe that most humans will not do well when they are deprived of contact with others. In the pilot episode of Rod Serling’s popular (shall we say, iconic?) 1960s TV show, The Twilight Zone, fittingly entitled “Where Is Everybody?” the protagonist found himself alone in a small town somewhere in America. Everywhere he went, he found tangible signs that other people had been there—a lighted cigarette in an ashtray, a steaming cup of coffee on a kitchen table, the receiver of a phone off the hook, and a partially eaten breakfast on the counter of a diner. Faced with all these traces of human existence, he developed the singular preoccupation of trying to find somebody—anybody, for that matter—to the point where he appeared to be losing his mind. Fortunately for the protagonist, the situation in which he found himself was an experiment conducted by the space program designed to test how prospective space travel- ers would fare in social isolation. In light of their observations, the researchers decided to terminate the experiment and concluded that prolonged social isolation was simply too much for any human to bear. Interestingly, the idea of being completely isolated was intriguing and outrageous enough to resurface as the theme in at least one other episode of The Twilight Zone. In that particular episode, Archibald Beachcroft, a misanthropic office worker, was given the power to make anything happen by merely wishing for it. Granted such powers, his first wish (after making his landlady disappear) was for everyone to go away. And while the resulting situation was not one that was thrust upon him as part of a cruel experiment, he Strangers, Friends, and Lovers Why Is Life So Complicated? 1 2 Strangers, Friends, and Lovers quickly came to realize the difficulties of living a life of complete solitude. He was soon faced with the utter pointlessness of such seemingly trivial activities as shaving and going to work. Moreover, the elimination of the nuisance previously created by the presence of others came at the price of complete boredom. To alleviate it, he wished for diversions, such as an earthquake, which he found too exciting, and an electrical storm, which he found too dull. Another wish for everybody to come back and be just like him created a situation he quickly found intolerable, and thus, with his final wish, he asked for every- thing to be the way it used to be. In Rod Serling’s fantastic explorations, the effects of objective social isolation on its protagonists resulted from an utter lack of interactions with others. It appears, however, that a lack of quantity doesn’t tell the whole story. In fact, lacking interactions of quality leads to the perception of social isolation. The resulting loneliness has a number of delete- rious effects on physical and mental health. They are every bit as dramatic as the effects of objective social isolation dramatized in The Twilight Zone and include elevated blood pressure, reduced physical activity, depression, and—over time—decreases in life satisfac- tion and even IQ (Cacioppo & Hawkley, 2009). Clearly, humans need others to survive and prosper! Put a different way, others help us meet specific needs. We review these needs in the next section The Need to Belong One proposal (Baumeister & Leary, 1995; Baumeister, 2011) suggests that our ten- dency to seek and maintain relationships of breadth as well as depth is caused by an underlying need to belong that complements our need to be different (Hornsey & Jetten, 2004). According to this hypothesis, humans “have a pervasive drive to form and maintain at least a minimum quantity of lasting, positive, and impactful relation- ships” (Baumeister & Leary, 1995, p. 497). Although this need to belong is to some extent innate, our evolutionary history may have done its part to make it a dominant form of human motivation. Forming social bonds may have important survival and reproductive benefits. Banding together in groups helps supply mates and enables the sharing of food as well as the care of offspring. Moreover, groups have a competitive advantage over the single individual when it comes to acquiring scarce resources and defending against predatory enemies. From this perspective, evolution has provided humans with a set of internal mechanisms that predispose them toward seeking rela- tionships with others. There is ample evidence supporting the belongingness hypothesis. First, it appears that social bonds among humans form quite easily, even in the absence of specific cir- cumstances that might make these bonds particularly advantageous. For example, when people are assigned to be members of a group by some arbitrary criterion, they quickly develop strong feelings of loyalty and allegiance to the point where they discriminate against nonmembers in a variety of ways (e.g., Brewer, 1979; Sherif et al., 1961; Tajfel, 1970). Similarly, infants develop attachments to their caregivers long before they are able to figure out the benefits (Bowlby, 1969). People with a high need to belong are particularly attentive to social cues, such as another’s vocal tone and facial emotion (Pickett, Gardner, & Knowles, 2004). And there is evidence that the use of online social network sites, such as Facebook, is strongly motivated by the need to belong (Nadkarni & Hofmann, 2012). Strangers, Friends, and Lovers 3 Ostracism At the same time that humans form social bonds easily, they react to the loss of such bonds with a measure of distress. People often have a hard time leaving family, neighbors, and friends behind in order to go to college or move to a new city. Interestingly, they experience distress even when the separation has no practical or instrumental ramifications (e.g., the loss of neighbors). We feel bad when others ostracize us, that is, ignore or exclude us from mem- bership in a group. In fact, as far as our brain is concerned, the pain stemming from rejection is experienced the same way as physical pain (Eisenberger, Lieberman, & Williams, 2003; McDonald & Leary, 2005). Just as important, being ostracized threatens a number of human needs—the need to belong prominently among them (Williams, 2007, 2009). And we don’t need to be rejected by an actual person or group to experience a threat to our belonging- ness need. Being excluded by a computer can lower levels of belonging (Zadro, Williams, & Richardson, 2004), and so can simply watching someone else being excluded (Graupmann, Pfundmair, Matsoukas, & Erber, 2016; Wesselman, Williams, & Hales, 2013). And finally, being rejected by a group we despise and don’t want anything to do with produces the same result (Gonsakorale & Williams, 2006). The belongingness hypothesis is appealing for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the need to belong can explain a variety of important psychological phenomena. For another, the need to belong explains our tendency both to seek and maintain relationships of breadth as well as depth. Distinct Relationship Needs However, people may be attracted to relationships because they meet multiple psychologi- cal needs. And different relationships may meet different sets of needs. Weiss (1969) and Drigotas and Rusbult (1992) proposed five important needs that can be met only through close relationships with others. Table 1.1 provides a side-by-side comparison. Table 1.1 Needs Met by Close Relationships Weiss (1969) Drigotas and Rusbult (1992) 1. The need for intimacy compels us to share our feelings with another. 2. The need for social integration requires someone with whom to share our concerns and worries. 3. The need for being nurturant is best met by being with another whom we can take care of. 4. The need for assistance involves another who will help us in times of need. 5. The need for reassurance of our own worth requires that we are with someone who will tell us that we are important. 1. Intimacy needs are related to confiding in another and sharing thoughts and disclosing feelings to one’s partner. 2. Companionship needs are related to spending time and engaging in activities together. 3. Sexual needs include the full range of physical activities from hand-holding to sexual intercourse. 4. Security needs pertain to the stability of a relationship and the extent to which one can rely on the relationship to make life more secure. 5. Emotional involvement needs involve the extent to which partners’ moods and emotions overlap and one partner’s affect influences the other’s emotional experience. 4 Strangers, Friends, and Lovers While distinct, the two proposals share some features, the need for intimacy being the most obvious. Regardless of which we draw upon, partners in a relationship generally experience a preponderance of positive emotions when they feel that their needs are being met. (Le & Agnew, 2001). We discuss the importance of partners meeting each other’s needs for the success of their relationship in Chapter 6. The Inevitability of Social Relationships Although need-based explanations for close relationships can be compelling, they are also somewhat problematic. To some extent, need-based theories often observe a behavior, such as people’s tendency to seek out others. They explain it as being caused by an underlying need, such as a need to belong, and then go on to predict the behavior based on the corresponding need. In other words, the argument takes on a somewhat circular nature, which detracts from its explanatory power. Of course, if we conveyed such reservations to someone who subscribes to theories that explain human behavior as being caused by needs, we would probably be asked what the alternatives are. This is not an easy task. However, one possibility would be to point out that interactions with others, and perhaps relationships as well, are an almost inevitable outcome not so much of human nature but human existence. Planet Earth is, after all, a heavily popu- lated place, which makes a life of complete solitude almost impossible. Even if we built ourselves a log cabin in the most remote wilderness, it would be impossible to escape interacting with others entirely, if for no other reason than to buy food, clothing, and supplies. In reality, most people spend their lives in a heavily populated social context. We are raised by one or more parents in a home that is part of a neighborhood and a larger community. We may have siblings and an extended family that descends upon us on holi- days. And even before our proud parents bring us home from the hospital, we have been checked, assessed, measured, and poked by pediatricians and nurses. In due time, we go to school with other children and eventually are employed in a setting that usually features superiors, underlings, and coworkers. The point is that, whether we want it or not, rela- tionships with others cannot easily be avoided, and it may be that this inevitability holds an important piece in solving the puzzle of why and how people initiate and maintain social relationships. Some time ago, sociologist George Caspar Homans (1961) proposed a number of fairly straightforward principles with regard to the connection between social interaction and relationships. The first principle states that people with equal status are more likely to interact. Students, for example, are more likely to interact with other students than with their professors. Clerks are more likely to interact with other clerks than with their man- agers. Of course, if equal status were the only basis for interacting with others, there would be a copious number of possibilities. However, over time, we end up interacting with others who are similar to us, like students who have the same major or share a simi- lar taste in music. This is the second principle. The third principle states that the more frequently we interact with others, the more we will like them. And finally, the fourth principle stipulates that frequent interaction and increased liking will result in increased sentiments of friendship. Homans’ (1961) four principles do a decent job of explaining why people inter- act more, and perhaps form relationships more, with some but not others. They also

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