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Social Development, Friendship and Mate Selection. Nature of Relationships. Need for Affiliation Evolutionary value Varies with situation cognitive clarity emotional comparison emotional support. Reciprocity and Interdependence. Basic unit is the dyad

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Nature of relationships l.jpg
Nature of Relationships

  • Need for Affiliation

  • Evolutionary value

  • Varies with situation

    cognitive clarity

    emotional comparison

    emotional support

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Reciprocity and Interdependence

  • Basic unit is the dyad

  • Dyad is reciprocal/interdependent

  • Relationships are dynamic

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Benefits of Relating

  • Information and assistance

  • Learn about culture and history

  • Identify and select mates

  • Receive reassurance/help with coping

  • Contributes to sense of self

  • Provide companionship

  • Source of interest/fun

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Links to Well-Being

  • Health and mortality

  • Relationship between social relations and health is bidirectional

  • Quality more important than quantity

  • Negative social interactions

    lower self-esteem

    undermine coping

    increase physiological arousal

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Characteristics of a High-Quality Relationship

  • Social Support: interpersonal transactions that provide the following:

  • positive affect

  • affirmation

  • aid

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Impact of Quality of Life

  • Social support: contributes to sense of well-being and life satisfaction

  • Reduces uncertainty and enhances sense of personal control/social competence

  • Contributes to self-esteem

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Impact on Mental Health

  • Social support protects from negative effects of stressful life events




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Impact on Physical Health

  • Social support related to positive effects on three systems:

    cardiovascular, endocrine, immune

  • Mechanisms: buffer effects of stress and enhance health promoting behaviors

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Convoy Model of Social Relationships

  • Enmeshed in social network of emotionally close others

  • Moves with the person through life

  • Person gives and receives social support

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Developmental Patterns

  • Late adolescence/early adulthood: social exploration and expansion

  • Early 30s: convoy has been selected; peripheral relationship dropped

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Theories of Social Aging

  • Disengagement: mutual withdrawal

  • Activity: withdrawal imposed

  • Socioemotional selectivity theory: actively selecting

  • Goal is to maximize social/emotional gains and minimize social/emotional risks

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Impact of Early Experience on Adult Relationships

  • Erikson: psychoanalytic hierarchical stage theory

  • Intimacy at time of expanding social interaction

  • Attachment theory

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Attachment Theory

  • Life-span perspective

  • Attachment: an emotional bond between two people

  • John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth

  • Continuing influence on subsequent relationships

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Key Components

  • Attachment behavioral system:


    universal to species

    purpose: promote proximity for survival

    preprogrammed, signaling behaviors

    initially indiscriminate

    maternal sensitivity/responsiveness shapes


    affectional bonds

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Key Components 2

  • Quality of Attachment

  • Secure: 62%; responsive/sensitive caregiving

  • Anxious/Ambivalent: 15%; inconsistent/inappropriate caregiving

  • Avoidant: 23%; unresponsive/rejecting caregiving

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Key Components 3

  • Working Models: cognitive component

  • Mental representations self and other

  • Key to long-term effect

  • Adult attachment regulated by internal working models formed early in life

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Attachment Theory and Romantic Love

  • Attachment styles originating infancy influence romantic love relationships

  • Secure: happy, friendly, trusting, accepting, supportive; last twice as long

  • Anxious/ambivalent: jealousy, emotional ups and downs, desire for reciprocation, intense sexual desire; fall in love quickly while finding relationships unsatisfying

  • Avoidant: fear of intimacy, jealousy, lack of acceptance; believe love hard to find and rarely lasting.

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Reorganization of Mental Models

  • Some able to overcome negative parent-child relationships

  • Reorganization- some history of secure attachment

  • Secure style very stable

  • More likely to move to secure style if:


    lived away from parents

    and/or lived with with spouse before marriage

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Advantages of Attachment Theory

  • Provides a life-span perspective

  • Offers insight into origins of various relational styles

  • Emphasis on working models consistent with schemas in cognitive psychology

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Limitations of Attachment Theory

  • Methodological: self-report data

  • Cultural variations

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  • Research issues: Studies of development in adulthood are rare

  • Definitions vary

  • Few longitudinal studies

  • Overgeneralization

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Nature of Friendships

  • Why we make friends: sociable system

  • Definition: a voluntary association between equals high in similarity and whose primary orientation is toward enjoyment and personal satisfaction

  • Longevity

  • Voluntary; less regulated by social/legal

  • Based on similarity

  • Oriented toward enjoyment

  • Trust

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Functions of Friendships

  • Contributes to self-esteem

  • Serve as confidants

  • Serve as models of coping

  • Buffer stress

  • Provide acceptance

  • Major source of enjoyment

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Friendship vs. Kinship

  • Family: more significant and long-term assistance

  • Obligatory, not voluntary

  • More different in terms of interests, age

  • “Get on nerves more”

  • Some overlap and substitution

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Gender Differences

  • Women: closer, deeper, more intimate, offer more support, more satisfied, more communal or helping orientation, greater levels of continuity, more frequent contact

  • Men: group and activity oriented, more guarded less self-disclosing, less intimate

  • Men expect less and tolerate conflict

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Friendship Development Over the Life Span

  • Rate of interaction declined after high school and rose again in oldest group

  • Middle-aged less than 10% of time

  • Newlyweds: largest friendship network

  • Often durable over time

  • Women: available time and need

  • Men: take place of family members

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Leaving Home

  • “Boomerang kids”

  • Due to: financial or personal setback, unemployment, parent’s affluent life-style

  • Parents influence process of leaving home

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Mate Selection

  • Process of successive hurdles

  • Filters:

  • Propinquity: repeated exposure effect

  • Attractiveness: matching hypothesis, evolutionary hypothesis

  • Similarity: niche picking

  • Reciprocity

  • Complementarity: family myth

  • Timing: temporal readiness