Discuss research into the breakdown of romantic relationships (8 marks + 16 marks) Duck saw relationship breakdown as a process that occurs over time. He believed that a lack of interpersonal skills and lack of stimulation within the relationship causes the individual to get bored and feel that they are no longer progressing in their relationship which can cause strains and dissatisfaction. The first stage is intrapsychic; this is where a person feels under benefited in the relationship. The second stage is dyadic; this is where partners discuss their problems constructively. The third stage is social; this is where the relationship breakdown is made social. The last stage is grave dressing; this is where the reasons behind the breakdown are established. Lee came up with a similar process; he believed that relationship breakdown can be broken down into 5 processes. The first stage is where a person begins to feel dissatisfied within their relationship. The second stage is where the dissatisfaction felt is made apparent to the individuals’ partner.
The third stage is where the couple discuss what is wrong with the relationship. The fourth stage is where the couple attempts to resolve the issues within their relationship and the last stage is if resolution does not occur the couple will separate. Tashiro and Frazier supported Ducks model, they conducted a study on undergraduate students to test their levels of distress after breakups. They found that after breakups participants also showed signs of personal growth. They believed that breaking up with their partner had given them new insights and help them understand what they wanted for the future, they did this through the grave dressing phase. Although it supports the theory at can be criticized for only using students which means the results would be bias and can’t be generalised to adults as they may not get the same results. Boekhout also found supporting evidence for Duck’s model which suggests lack of interpersonal skills and stimulation causes breakdown to occur.
He found affairs occurred within males due to a lack of sexual excitement within their current relationship and in females because of a lack of attention or emotional satisfaction. This is not considered to be reliable as many individuals may use these excuses to justify their affair and blame it on them being unhappy and wanting more in their current relationship. Lee’s theory was based on research and surveys of 112 breakups of non-marital romantic relationships, he found making the relationship breakdown public and taking about the issues most stressful and distressing and those who skipped stages tended to also have less intimate relationships prior to their breakup. This shows Lee’s model only has application for couples who may have longer closer relationships.
The main criticism of Lee’s research is that it was based on non-marital relationships and this process of breakup may not fully apply to married couples who have children since negotiation would have to occur after the relationship breakdown. Both models have gender differences. Kassin and Brehm found women stress unhappiness and incompatibility while men blame a lack of sex. Women mostly want to remain friends while men usually want a clean break and want to be able to move on. The models cannot fully account for such gender differences within breakup suggesting the theories are both reductionist and oversimplified as relationship breakdown is too complex to breakdown into phases.
Both models are culturally bias as most of the researches conducted into these models are based on research of relationship breakdown in the Weston world, in come cultures divorce and relationship breakdown if frowned upon and the models do not explain why some people remain together when they are not fully satisfied. This makes both theories ethnocentric and lacking internal validity as you are unable to generalise the findings to other outlying societies in other parts of the world. The research conducted could also be considered to be unethical due to the sensitive nature of the topic. This runs the issue to causing psychological harm to those who are vulnerable bu discussing their past breakups which in some cases may be distressing for the participant.