General framework

  • To what extent do biological, cognitive and sociocultural factors influence human relationships?
  • Evaluate psychological research (that is, theories and/or studies) relevant to the study of human relationships.

Social responsibility

Distinguish between altruism and prosocial behaviour

  • Pro-social behavior benefits others or has positive social consequences (Staub, 1978)
  • Helping behavior intentionally helps or benefits others in the spirit of making a difference
  • Altruistic behavior is helping someone else without reward and can even be at some cost to yourself
    • However, distinguish between fairness and actual altruism (List; Fehr)

Contrast two theories explaining altruism in humans

  • Negative-state relief model (Schaller and Cialdini, 1988) - motivated to reduce distress experienced by watching others in awful situations
    • does not explain why some people who experience distress do not act
    • cannot predict behavior
  • Empathy-altruism model (Batson et al., 1981) - we experience either
    • personal distress - anxiety or fear which motivates us to help egoistically to relieve our fear or anxiety
    • empathetic concern - sympathy or compassion which motivates us to help where the goal is relieving the person's suffering (not your own fear or anxiety)

Using one or more research studies, explain cross-cultural differences in prosocial behavior

  • Whiting (1979) found that nurturing behavior in children (3-11) is higher in Kenya, Mexico and the Philippines compared to US (who scored lowest)
  • Graves and Graves (1985) - family environment where you are expected to care for younger children increases prosocial behavior
  • Levine et al. studies
    • US population density predicts prosocial behavior (lower = more likely to help)
    • Replicated in 23 cities - Rio de janeiro and San Jose were most likely to help (role of collectivist society?)
    • Low economically productive countries are more likely to help

Examine factors influencing bystanderism

Interpersonal relationships

Examine biological, psychological and social origins of attraction

  • Pheromones?
  • Oxytocin and vasopressin
  • Face symmetry
  • Hormone levels (ovulation vs non-ovulation) can affect female attraction to men
  • Waist-to-hip-ratio affects male attraction to females (Johnson and Tassinary, 2005)
  • Attraction-similarity model (Morry, 2007) - attracted to people similar to ourselves
  • Cultural norms - e.g. thinness in Western culture
  • Proximity determines attraction in dorm rooms (Festinger et al., 1950), elderly homes and college campuses (Nahemow and Lawton, 1975)
    • Confirmation of proximity including likelihood of dislike based on proximity and probability of face-to-face contact (Ebbesen et al., 1976)
      • People who choose to participate in interviews are perhaps more likely to gossip and/or have more sociable personalities

Discuss the role of communication in maintaining relationships

Explain the role that culture plays in the formation and maintenance of relationships

  • Cross-cultural perspectives on infidelity (Druckerman, 2007)
    • Japanese do not consider it cheating if you pay for sex
    • Russians do not consider it cheating if you have extramarital sex while on vacation at a beach resort
    • South Africans consider inebriation a proper excuse for cheating - they are forgiven

Analyse why relationships may change or end

  • MHC genes are too similar
  • Social exchange theory (Kelley and Thibaut, 1959)
    • Based on cost-benefit analysis where cost of relationship must not outweigh the benefits
  • Equity theory (Walster, 1978)
    • Equality is important in maintenance of fidelity
    • Individuals who feel deprived or under-benefited are more likely to cheat than individuals who feel fairly treated or over-benefited (Hatfield, 1979)
  • Fatal attraction theory (Felmlee, 1995)
    • Factor that caused initial attraction is also responsible for its ultimate demise
      • A musician that lives freely and day-to-day is initially attractive but long-term his partner may view him as undesirable to settle down with


Evaluate explanations of the origins of violence

  • Power differences
  • Deindividuation

Discuss the relative effectiveness of two strategies for reducing violence

  • Multiculturalism
  • Color blindness
  • Extended Contact

Discuss the short term and long term effects of exposure to violence

Additional Resources