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Romantic Relationship: Human Behavior Perspectives Research Paper

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Updated: Jul 5th, 2020

Introduction

Available psychology scholarship demonstrates that psychologists make use of a multiplicity of general approaches to explain human behavior and to provide different angles when explaining observed phenomena (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2013; McLeod, 2007). As indicated by these authors, the general approaches (e.g., biological, evolutionary, cognitive, humanism, psychodynamic, learning/behaviorism and sociocultural) are basically perspectives or viewpoints that utilize particular assumptions or beliefs to make knowledgeable predictions on human behavior.

The present paper uses five general perspectives (biological/evolutionary, cognitive, psychodynamic, learning and sociocultural) to not only explain how a specific romantic relationship involving two people begins, develops and is maintained, but also to compare and contrast the impact of these perspectives on the demonstrated behavior of the couple.

Discussion and Comparison of the Perspectives

The biological/evolutionally perspective can be used to explain how two members of the opposite sex are attracted to each other for survival and adaptation, as the mind is equipped with instincts that enable human beings to survive and reproduce (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2013; McLeod, 2007). Consequently, the brain processes in the man may influence his decision to start a relationship with the woman to safeguard survival through reproduction. It is important to note that the demands of the couple to start a family and their demonstrated ability in terms of financial independence are of critical importance in commencing the relationship. This perspective basically progresses the nature-nurture interactions, hence is different from the learning and sociocultural perspectives that embolden the role of the environment in shaping behavior (Gross, 2010).

The cognitive perspective is important in ensuring the romantic relationship between the man and woman commences, develops, and is maintained. It is obvious that mental processes must be involved when the man and woman are evaluating if they can stick to each other based on their likes and dislikes. As demonstrated in the literature, their thoughts to love each other develop in a sequence of stages as both continue to meet in social settings, not mentioning that their relationship continues to grow due to increasing efficiency in handling information on each other in line with the information processing theory (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2013).

The capacity to process positive information on each other maintains and reinforces the relationship. The cognitive perspective is related to the biological/evolutionally perspective in terms of underlining the role of nature-nurture interactions in explaining behavior; however, it is different from learning and sociocultural perspectives as the latter underscore the importance of the environment in explaining behavior (Gross, 2010; McLeod, 2007).

The psychodynamic perspective also reinforces and maintains the romantic relationship not only due to its assumption that personality develops through a sequence of stages, but also because of its involvement in ensuring that partners are able to resolve the conflict arising from their subconscious components ( id and superego). Available literature demonstrates that, in situations where the ‘ego’ is unable to resolve the conflict between the ‘id’ and the ‘superego’, individuals in the romantic relationship may be unable to stick to each other as they develop various defense mechanisms (e.g., cheating, aggression, remorse) to minimize their own anxieties. The psychodynamic perspective is often faced with verification difficulties due to its circular nature, though it is increasingly linked to other perspectives that support nature-nurture interactions because it views human functioning as based upon the interaction of drives and forces within the individual (Gross, 2010).

Moving on, it is evident that the learning perspective is particularly useful in developing and maintaining the romantic affair over the long-term because a relationship involving two people is to a large extent dependent on how environmental factors (referred to as stimuli) affect observable behavior (referred to as response) (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2013; McLeod, 2007). Here, the partners in the romantic relationship love and trust each other based on their association (classical conditioning) as well as consequences of behavior (operant conditioning).

Through classical conditioning, the partners are able to develop physiological arousal by repeatedly spending time together, hence reinforcing the relationship as each reacts with pleasure and excitement at the mere mention of the other’s name. Through operant conditioning, the woman learns to love and trust the man even more through reinforcements such as birthday presents, holidays, and untainted love (Gross, 2010). Consequently, it can be argued that the reflexive emotional responses of excitement and pleasure felt by partners in the romantic relationship are to a large extent developed through classical conditioning and maintained through forms of behavior that support operant conditioning.

Lastly, the sociocultural perspective can be used to explain how the partners are expected to shift their actions and behavior to conform to the standards that guide the romantic relationship (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2013). These standards may be dictated upon by the immediate environment, thus this perspective is to a large extent related to the learning perspective. However, while the learning perspective influences how various environmental factors affect the observable behavior of the partners, the sociocultural perspective details how the partners are expected to conform to a set of behaviors and actions that will provide an enabling environment for the relationship to grow.

Conclusion

The present paper not only illuminated the role of the various perspectives of human behavior in explaining how a romantic relationship commences, develops and is maintained, but also attempted to compare and contrast the impact of these perspectives on behavior. Drawing from this discussion, it can be concluded that the perspectives of human behavior are of critical importance in attempting to understand why human beings act and behave the way they do.

References

Gross, R. (2010). Psychology: The science of mind and behavior (6th ed.). London: Hodder Education.

Kail, R.V., & Cavanaugh, J.C. (2013). Human development: A life-span view (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

McLeod, S. (2007). Web.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Romantic Relationship: Human Behavior Perspectives." July 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/romantic-relationship-human-behavior-perspectives/.

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