Divide the class into groups.
Get the groups to try and agree an answer to this question: "What causes relationships to break down?"
Psychologists give the following reasons:
Once this has been discussed challenge the groups to suggest the most important factors in starting a relationship.
- One person moves away (reverses proximity and familiarity)
- Abuse of trust (deception)
- Life changes
- Lack of communication
Social psychologists' studies give the following reasons:
- Physical attractiveness - with romantic relationships (Silverman, 1971)
- Living near to each other - proximity (Festinger, 1950)
- You like someone who likes you - reciprocity (Hewitt, 1972)
- Seeing each other around - familiarity (Zajonc, 1968)
- Having similar interests - similarity (Newcomb, 1961)
Pose the question: "Why are friends important in making a person feel happy?"
Here are some suggested reasons:
- Enjoy shared experiences
- We get positive feedback from mutual body language (smiling etc)
- Support in a crisis
Recap on the main teaching points and hear students' responses to the question in the extension activity.
- When asked what makes your life meaningful, the most common answers are close friends and romantic partners.
- Male friendships tend to be less intense emotionally than female.
- Relationships are maintained in two ways: preventative care (doing things together) and repair (talking the problem over).
- In new couples more emphasis is placed on prevention rather than repair.
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