Monday, October 29, 2007

APPENDIX E: Self-Evaluation of Online Engagement

To successfully complete blog 2, I engaged online in the following ways:
- posted progress pertaining to the development of my second blog
- put up a video for everyone to watch
- corresponded with another student about linking her blog to mine (which I have done)
- commented on other blogs
- took on board comments which were posted on my blogs
- regularly participated in the discussion forum
- took part in other students polls

APPENDIX D: Reference List

Reference List

Buss, D.M., & Bames, M. (1986) Preferences in Human Mate Selection. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 559-570. Retrieved October 18, 2007, from EBSCOHost.

Cutright, P., & Cutright, L. (2006) The Five Keys to Powerful Partnerships. Retrieved October 20, 2007, from

Kenrick, D.T., Sadalla, E.K., Groth, G., & Trost, M.R. (1990) Evolution, Traits, and the Stages of Human Courtship: Qualifying the Parental Investment Model. Journal of Personality, 58(1), 97-116. Retrieved October 22, 2007, from EBSCOHost Database.

Murstein, B.I. (1970) Stimulus Value Role: A Theory of Marital Choice. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 32(3), 465-481. Retrieved October 22, 2007, from JSTOR Database.

Powell, R. (2007) Beck’s Social Psychology Page:
Hot or Not: A Social-Psychological Inquiry into Interpersonal Attraction and Attractiveness Perception. Retrieved October 29, 2007, from

Synque (2002) Changing Minds: Social Penetration Theory. Retrieved October 15, 2007, from

Synque (2002) Changing Minds: Stage Theory. Retrieved October 15, 2007, from

Synque (2002) Changing Minds: Stimulus-Value-Role Model. Retrieved October 15, 2007, from

Trivers, R.L. (1972) Parental investment and sexual selection. In: Sexual selection and the descent of man (Campbell B, ed). Chicago:Aldine; 136–179.

Woodward, K., & Richards, M.H. (2004) The Parental Investment Model and Minimum Mate Choice Criteria in Humans. Journal of Behavioral Ecology, 16(1), 57-61. Retrieved October 20, 2007, from ALLPSYCH Database.


Kenrick, D.T., Sadalla, E.K., Groth, G., & Trost, M.R. (1990) Evolution, Traits, and the Stages of Human Courtship: Qualifying the Parental Investment Model. Journal of Personality, 58(1), 97-116. Retrieved October 22, 2007, from EBSCOHost Database.

APPENDIX B: Table of Theories

APPENDIX A: Concept Map

Blog 2: Development and Maturation of Relationships


This blog will critically examine a number of theories pertaining to stages relationships go through during development. Specifically, the Stimulus-value-role Model will be discussed in detail, with reference to research. Furthermore, the uncanny similarity between this model and Social penetration theory, Stage theory, and the Relational development Model will be discussed and presented within a table. A dissimilar theory, the Parental Investment Model will also be discussed in depth, with the evolutionary roots of the model clearly emphasised. Finally, discussed theories will be evaluated in application to personal relationship examples.

Stimulus-value-role model seeks to explain how we choose our intimate partners through a three stage model, with the first stage being the stimulus stage, followed by the value stage and finally the role stage. Within each stage the dynamics of attraction and interaction are explained in terms of social-exchange theory, specifically the ‘give and take’ principle and the balance of these exchanges. The Stimulus-Value-Role Model suggests that in a relatively free choice situation most couples pass through these three stages before marriage.

The stimulus stage
In a situation where a man and woman do don’t know each other; one may be drawn to another based on their perception of physical, social, mental, or reputational attributes.
Powell (2007) has discussed, in depth, what humans consider attractive. Furthermore, the stimulus stage also involves appraisal of one’s own attributes which they may perceive to be attractive to the other person.

The value stage
The value stage requires verbal interaction in order to examine each other’s values and determine value compatibility. General values which may be explored during this stage include; attitudes towards life, politics, religion, sex, and the roles of men and women in society and marriage (Sinque, 2002). As this stage it is also possible for closer appraisal of stimulus values as well as temperament and ability to relate to others. Such close appraisal of stimulus values, and general values may lead to reduced desirability and termination of contact (Simnque, 2002). However, Murstein (1970) suggests where initial stimulus attraction has been strong; couples are less likely to terminate contact during the value stage.

The role stage
During the role stage a couple faces three tasks before contemplating marriage; role fit, personal adequacy, and sexual compatibility. Role fit involves each partners increased awareness of what they desire in a future spouse and their more conscious comparison of these expectations with their perception of their partner. Personal adequacy includes taking measurement of oneself and partner and examining inadequacies which bear high costs upon marriage. And finally, prior to marriage a couple must attain sexual consistency (achieving a good sexual relationship) and agree to the degree of which sexuality will be expressed during marriage (Murstein, 1970).

The value-stage-role model has been empirically tested by Murstein (1970), who validated the theory based on the confirmation of nineteen hypotheses pertaining to the efficacy of the theory. However, Murstein has suggested future research determine whether reported findings can be replicated and whether alternative models will also account for these findings equally or perhaps even better.

Social penetration theory, Stage theory, and the Relational Development Model are also dominant relationship stage theories. Similar to the Stimulus-value-role model, each of these theories has an initial attraction stage, a growth stage, and a stage of stability. Appendix B presents a table which demonstrates specific similarities between stages and each theory. However, unlike the stimulus-value-role model, social penetration theory, stage theory and the relational development model each contain a closure stage. The closure stage, as described by each of these theories, occurs when costs of the relationship exceed benefits and the relationship finally breaks down. Cutright and Cutright (2006) explain the closure stage must occur in every relationship whether it be a break-down of the relationship or even the death of a partner.

Although the discussed theories are comprehensive and describe relevant stages of relationship development, they do not discuss a stage of ‘power struggle’.
Cutright and Cutright (2006) argue the power struggle stage is of the most important stages of any relationship. The power struggle is just that, a struggle between each partner to a relationship to gain power over the direction of the relationship. Cutright and Cutright (2006) believe a power struggle is a necessary stage for couples to build trust as their relationship matures. Furthermore, each time a relationship increases in commitment (i.e. buying a house, or having children) the amount of trust required also increases, meaning it is inevitable for a power struggle to occur more than once. Unfortunately, Cutright and Cutright’s (2006) theory of relationship lacks academic support and solid research. A new model of relationship development is proposed which incorporates the unanimous stages of the stimulus-value-role model, social penetration theory, stage theory, and the relational development model (especially the closure stage, as it must occur in every relationship), as well as a power struggle stage.

Unlike that of previously discussed relationship stage models, the parental investment model is an evolutionary theory based upon Darwin’s notion of sexual selection. Sexual selection refers to selection of a mate based upon traits which increase the probability of reproduction (Kenrick et al., 1990).The underlying principle of the parental investment model is; the amount of parental investment required within a relationship should, and does determine the selection criteria for potential mates. (Kenrick et al., 1990).

According to Trivers’ (1972) the parental investment model leads to two predictions; (1) both males and females will exhibit more stringent mate choice in mating situations entailing a higher level or risk of parental investment, and (2) there will be a discrepancy in the stringency of male and female choosiness that is more or less proportional to their differential risk of parental investment.

Kenrick et al. (1990) conducted the first major test of the parental investment model, investigating the effect of level of parental investment on the stringency of mate choice in mate choice relationships entailing different risks of pregnancy. The two predictions of the parental investment model were in-fact confirmed, females were significantly choosier than males in selecting a mate for a relationship with high risk of pregnancy, and choosiness increased for both males and females as the risk of parental investment increased. Unpredicted by the model, females were significantly more stringent than males when it came to selecting a mate for a one-off sexual encounter with the risk of pregnancy (Kenrick et al., 1990). Woodward and Richards (2004) have been critical of Kenrick et al.’s (1990) study suggesting it examines mate choice as it relates to perceived risk of parental investment rather than real risk.

For the purpose of this blog, the selection of a potential mate based upon exhibited traits will be understood as a stage of mate selection. For example, if a potential mate does not exhibit desirable traits, he cannot advance to the stage of making a parental investment.

So what traits are desirable when it comes to mate selection with high risk of parental investment? Kenrick et al. (1990) hypothesised sexes would differ most on criteria related to status and dominance, which was supported. Males were more selective regarding physical attractiveness, whereas females were more selective regarding traits related to resource location and dominance, which supports the findings of Buss and Barnes (1986). ‘This follows the typical mammalian pattern of the evolutionary perspective, in which a female selects a dominant male who will contribute desirable genes.’
Appendix C presents statistical results for traits studied by Kenrick et al. (1990) at the stage where sexual relations occurs (the presented table also shows statistics for traits at different relationship stages not discussed in this blog).

In application to personal relationships, the Stimulus-value-role Model and similar theories discussed are accurate in describing the stages this specific relationship went through. Furthermore, this relationship did go through a stage of power struggle as Cutright and Cutright (2006) have suggested in necessary. In this situation, the power struggle was to do with each partner trying to gain control over when and where the other partner spent time with his/her friends. Although the power struggle was an unstable time during the relationship, it was in fact necessary for the development of trust as Cutright and Cutright (2006) have suggested. With reference to the parental investment model, I have found that as a twenty year-old my selections of a partner have become more stringent as I think about finding a life partner, and someone to parentally invest. It is my opinion that each of the models discussed are all accurate and can apply to an array of relationship situations.

In conclusion, the Stimulus-value-role Model, Social penetration theory, Stage theory, and the Relational development Model each have valuably contributed to a social psychological explanation of how relationships mature and develop. These theories could be improved with extra research, and particularly the inclusion of a power struggle stage as described by Cutright and Cutright (2006). The evolutionary Parental Investment Model is also valuable in explaining exactly how partners are chosen, and how they have been chosen throughout evolution. Although, this model could be improved with extra research which clearly examines real risk of parental investment rather than perceived risk as Woodward and Richards (2004) have recommended.

1,403 Words excluding references, citations, and headings.

See Appendix D for Reference List

Please see Appendix E for Self-evaluation

Friday, October 26, 2007

Concept map

Hi Everyone,

This is my concept map so far ( i may edit it again before my final submission) I'll upload it for everyone to see so you can get an idea of exactly where im going with my blog. Keep in mind i'll probably only go into detail for 2 theories (at this stage Knapp's Relational Development Model and the Stimulus-value-role model). Im having a bit of trouble finding a theory which has a power struggle stage (or equivelent) which is academic enough to discuss. Plus, i'm running out of words so i might just write a short paragraph on power struggles in relationships and evidence that with a few goods examples and solid research. Also, I may be publishing a link to Beck's (Rebekah Powell) blog which discusses beauty and what is considered attractive and why. As for the rest of the theories, i'm considering tabling them according to similarities in stages as suggested by James.

Thanks - comments more than welcome!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

This short clip that i pulled from you tube talks about 5 stages of relationships (which im going to do a bit of research on as they are different from what i've already looked at) but what is interesting is that they talk about every relationship concluding (i.e. breaking up or til death do us part!) Well, anyway they have an interesting take on the 'predictability' of ALL relationships.

blog plan developing...slowly..

So here's the plan as it currently stands:

1. Stimulus-value-role model;
- stimulus stage (physical attribute evaluation - no interpersonal contact)
- value stage (interpersonal contact - comparing values & making decision as to whether or not values are compatible. If values aren't compatible contact can be terminated)
- role stage (sharing activities to build a relationship - i.e. you do this and i'll do that, roles are complementary)

2. Social penetration theory;
- orientation stage (small talk and gestures - following stadards of social desirability and norms)
- exploratory effective stage (reveal values, attitudes ect. at this point the relationship may become and remain a friendship)
- affective stage (reveal private and personal values/attitudes ect. This is the stage where is becomes okay to criticise and argue and kiss and touch each other)
-stable stage (personal and private thing still shared - relationship plateau's - partner's can predict one another's emotional reactions to certain things) THIS IS THE STAGE WHERE A RELATIONSHIP REMAINS UNLESS IT BREAKS DOWN!
- depenetration (relationship begins to break down and costs exceed benefits - withdrawal of disclosure leads to relationship termination)

3. Stage theory;
-Acquaintance/attraction (initial attraction based upon beauty and similarity)
- Build-up (partners become interdependent and begin to irritate one another - but benefits outweigh costs)
-continuation/consolidation (long-term committments are made. This may be marriage, moving in together, having a child, or even getting a pet!)
- deterioration (relationship begins to decay - this may be due to; relative effort, rewards, availability of alternatives)
-ending (the relationship ends when one or both partners seperate)

4. Parental investment model
I've only just started researching this theory (it's quite new and detailed). Although, it is based upon Charles Darwin's notion of sexual selection. So it has an evolutionary feel and basically describes differences between men and women's 'checklist' for a mate. Although it doesn't describe stages of a relationship per se, it does go through a sequence of how mates have been selected throughout evolution.

That's it so far! But I am interested in incorporating a bit of info about beauty/attractiveness into this blog. Specifically, stage theory specifies the beauty or physical attributes of a person is what initially attracts a potential partner. So i'm thinking about maybe putting in a link to another person's blog who has at some point discussed beauty or is doing so for their own blog. I wanted to do this because i'm interested in the topic of beauty but it's not quite relevant enough to my topic of 'Relationship Stages' for me to have an actually discussion ab out it myself!

I'd appreciate some feedback on that idea because i'm not sure how appropriate that might be i.e. if other people would mind 'contributing' to my work (i'd ask permission first of course!!!!).

Thanks for reading..!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Initial Blog 2 Plan

I've begun planning my second blog (amidst exam study!!). My topic is relationship stages, with reference to theories and application to my own relationships.

At the moment the theories i'll be covering are:

1. Levinger's Relationship Stage Theory
2. Altman and Taylor's Social Penetration Theory
3. Murstein's Stimulus-Value-Role Model

Any ideas/suggestions/criticisms more than welcome!!!