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Outlining and Evaluating theories of relationship breakdown. Essay

Stephanie Rollie and Steve Duck developed a model of the termination of close and intimate relationships in 2006.This model focuses on the processes that typify relationship breakdown , rather than being tied to distinct phases that people pass through . The 6 stages may appear to overlap or have common features but also serve very different purposes and ultimately have different consequences.

Initially , the first stage is breakdown , this is where one of the partners decides that they can’t stand it any more and only when this dissatisfaction manifests itself into a complete reality check of ‘I can’t stand this any more’ do we see a progression to the next stage of this stage theory. After the breakdown Rollie and Duck suggest that the second stage is something known as the intra-psychic process ; this is generally characterised as a social withdrawal and resentment with the dissatisfied partner focusing on their partners faults and a sense of being underbenifited. This normally coincides with a tendency to re-evaluate the relationship and consider alternatives.

The next stage is something known as the dyadic processes ; this is where partners begin to talk with each other about the problems leading to the breakdown , sometimes this can result in reconciliation as the other partner accepts the validity of the dissatisfied partners views.( only if its constructive not destructive ) This stage could be seen as the make or break stage where issues are brought up like ‘ we need to stay together for the kids’ or just a general believe that things don’t have the capacity to change.

The fourth stage in this model is social processes ; the break up is aired and made public to friends and family , generally , advice and support and sought from people outside the relationship and alliances are created (e.g. you can do better than her) .Also in this stage things are discussed which tell us that a relationship is progressing deeply through the stage , for example child custody. The fifth stage is the grave dressing processes ; this focuses on the spectra of the relationship I.e. How it started ?, what was it like ? How it went wrong .

This stage also sees partners organize their post relationship lives and begin to publicise there own accounts of the breakdown. It is highly likely that not the same story is told to everybody as the ex partner may want to appear in a different light to different people , e.g. new potential partners. The final stage of Rollie and Ducks model is the resurrection process ; this is simply the final evaluation of the relationship and what the partners need to improve on or change for their next .

Rollie and Ducks model is supported by observations of real-life break ups . Tashiro and Frazier 2003 surveyed undergraduates who had recently experienced the breakdown of a romantic relationship . They found that not only had the students experienced emotional distress but at the same time had new insight into what they wanted in their next relationship . This links support to the grave dressing and resurrection process as it is setting a new template for the future thus supporting 2 stages of the model and consequently lending support and credibility to the model.

On the contrary the fact that it looked at undergraduates who are new into a scene with loads of people they don’t know leaves this research open to scrutiny of age bias , the model even states that young adults tend to ‘ test the market ‘ and that the 6 stages mainly apply to older people , this doesn’t necessarily reduce validity of the model but casts doubt on the generalisability of it

The model doesn’t consider individual differences which I believe plays a massive intrinsic and extrinsic role in this process. In 1998 Akert found the role people played in the dissolution of the relationship was the single biggest indicator of the impact of the dissolution experience . Concluding that the instigator suffered less of the negative consequences of break up (e.g. depression and loneliness) than the non instigator.

The model generalises the emotional impact to both the non instigator and the instigator which in the majority of cases is unfair as someone is likely to be more hurt than the other , this decreases the reliability of the model because everybody behaves differently , its in our nature.

Rollie and Ducks model is subject to heterosexual bias because it cannot be generalised to lesbian , gay , bisexual or transgender relationships . For example a homosexual couple that are not out as homosexual cannot go through the social processes stage as they won’t have that social network due to the fact they are not out as homosexual.

It clear that there are many more extraneous variables that mean that different people go though different forms of a relationship breakdown ,there is no norm. In congruency with this not all heterosexual couples act the same as a couple that have had a 3 week fling will break up differently to a couple in a marital relationship. The point I am making here is that the model needs to differentiate between the nature of a relationship before it can gain fully credibility through its application of stages.

Culture plays a large role in this and there is definitely culture bias present in this model as it is only applicable to the western world , further from this it is only applicable to the western world to an extent due to religion , for example the catholic church frown upon divorce and will not allow a re marriage in that church after a divorce. In most cases a break up is not seen as unscrupulous or deviant in western culture but in others like collectivist tribal cultures where marriage is arranged and is a conjugate of 2 families rather than individuals a break up is non negotiable . Thus rendering the model culture bias as it is clearly only applicable to western society.

Evolutionary psychologists attempt to explain relationship breakdown by 4 predictions , it is important to remember that these are prediction and not assumptions. As is does with the mate preferences this area of psychology differentiates between male and female aspects of breakdown. 1)Costs related to emotional investment; this says that the female rejectees will experience a greater loss associated with the emotional investment withdrawal due to the potent dependence on the resources of the man.(applicable to relationships involving older people) this comes from the hunger gather theory of evolution. 2)Increasing commitment ;

This is the idea that males may manipulate the female knowing that she values emotional commitment extremely highly , it suggest that men who fear for there relationship will attempt to increase commitment through a variety of ways , for example cohabitation , marriage or children. It is thought that this is to maintain sexual access to the female. Yet again this is based on ideas of evolution first outlined by Charles Darwin. 3)Infidelity ;

This implies that males are more likely to be unfaithful and cheat on their partners due to their desire for sexual variation . This can also be a way of ending the relationship and forcing the rejectee to move on more swiftly. 4)Reputational damage ; the rejectors may be viewed as heartless by a jury of their peers and the rejectee may be portrayed as a helpless victim . It is thought that this could damage the rejectors reputation and consequently affect there chances of finding an alternative . To counter act this the rejector may deploy tactics like ‘ can we still be friends’ .

Perilloux and Buss conducted research into this area in 2008 when they got 98 males and 101 females to fill in a questionnaire at a university . 69% of the participants where white Caucasian and the rest where from a range of ethnic backgrounds ( attempting to emit culture bias). They found that females more than males reported higher levels of costs associated with losing their partner’s emotional commitment . This supports the evolutionary approach as it shows that there is a cost relating to emotional investment specifically in women , as the prediction outlines.

Also they found that more males than females reported success at preventing a relationship breakdown by increasing their level of commitment , again showing stacks of support for increasing commitment . Male rejectors more than female rejectors reported engaging in sex with other potential mates prior to the break up . Conclusively supporting the notion of infidelity. And finally rejectors indicated a higher cost of being seen as cruel and heartless compared to the rejectees , Fully supporting the idea of reputational damage. In terms of finding linked to the predictions Perilloux and Buss extrapolated evidence to support all , giving masses of credibility to the evolutionary predictions.

On the contrary , this is a fairly socially sensitive explanation because it casts males in a bad light suggesting that they are unscrupulous through infidelity , the implications of this are that males may feel insulted by the idea that they would sleep with somebody else to end a relationship , where in many cases men are just as faithful if not more faithful than women .Thus rendering the predictions socially sensitive.

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