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The Sociobiological theory

The Sociobiological theory

The Sociobiological theory does however have evolutionary advantages; it offers plausible explanation for the evolution of specific mate preferences that exist today. Women who select men, who were unable or unwilling to invest resources in their offspring, would experience lower reproductive success than those who placed a premium on these qualities. The Reinforcement and need satisfaction theory states that the reason we spend so much time in social relationships is that we find them rewarding (positively reinforcing) and that we would find life alone unpleasant and rewarding.

This model tries to explain social relationships by the influence of reinforcing behaivour over us, using classical conditioning as its basis. Others may reward us directly (operant conditioning) perhaps by meeting our psychological needs for friendship, love and sex. Or perhaps we are rewarded indirectly (classical conditioning). If people provide us with direct reinforcement then we like them more. If we meet someone whilst in a good mood, we may associate that person with our good Mood, thus find them more attractive.

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Points out those individuals who are rewarding (friendly, helpful and cheerful) tend to be liked most. Positive non verbal signals such as smiling are signs of liking and are very important. Research supporting the theory that we learn to associate positive feelings with people which reward us was carried out by Veitch and Griffit (1976), participants were placed in a waiting room where they listened to either good or bad news with a stranger present.

When they were asked to rate the stranger the degree of liking was related to the kind of news they’d been listening to.

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Further research evidence includes ‘need satisfaction’. There are seven basic motives or needs, each can be satisfied at least in part by interpersonal relationships: Biological, dependency, affiliation, dominance, sex, aggression, and self- esteem.

This however presents a one sided picture, omitting the behaivour of other people. Hayes pointed out there’s as much value in giving rewards to another person as being rewarded oneself. Participants are usually concerned with fairness & equality in a relationship rather than a need to maximize their own benefits. A limitation of this theory is that relationships in non- western cultures show little concern for reinforcement.

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The Sociobiological theory. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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