Harlow (1959) performed a famous experiment with baby rhesus monkeys that supported the conclusions drawn from the studies of feral children: social isolation is traumatic and prevents normal development. In this classic study baby monkeys were raised without any contact with a mother or other monkeys. They were provided two “mother substitutes”; one was a wire feeder, and the other feeding substitute was softer and covered with terry cloth. The importance of contact was shown by the baby monkeys clinging to the terry cloth “mother”, and when frightened rushing to this substitute for comfort. Like the feral children these monkeys were abnormal when they approached adolescence or adulthood. They displayed high anxiety, could not playfully interact with peers, and failed to engage in normal sexual behavior. It would appear that social interaction, particularly with parent figures, is essential for normal functioning in adulthood. What we describe as human nature would evaporate in the absence of relationships as we are socialized by our interactions. The universality of the desire to belong would suggest a biological basis similar to other biological needs.
Interacting with people affects our emotional lives. We feel better being around others, particularly in close or romantic relationships (Bolger, Davis, & Rafaeli, 2003; Delespaul, Reis, & DeVries, 1996). Unhappiness in lonely people, however, may not be due to the absence of people alone. Unhappy friends are not rewarding to be around, and they might be lonely because they are unhappy, rather than unhappy because they are lonely (Gotlib, 1992).
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The third type of relationship is equality matching. These relationships are based on equality in resources and preferred outcomes. Many friendships and marriages are governed by some norm of equality. Members should have on the average the same rights, constraints or freedoms. The essential question asked in response to any requests or demands is: is it fair? Is it also applicable to the capitalist market system based on the market pricing relationships. Fourth, relationships emerging from the market economy are governed in principle by equity, by what is considered fair. Salaries should be based on merit and equity, where the compensation received is proportional to the quality and effort made by the individual (for example if you cannot pay for medical help, then you get none). While Fiske claims these four types are universal, some relationships are emphasized in a particular culture. Capitalist societies rely on market pricing relationships, and increasingly we are seeing similar relationships in current and formerly socialist countries.
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Demographic variables also have an effect on loneliness. Those who are poor struggle more with all forms of insecurity, and have less possibilities for participating in social relationships. For example due to lack of money poor people often cannot participate in social activities. Age is also a factor. Most may think that old age is a time of loneliness as people lose relationships to death or other causes. Some research (Perlman, 1990) however, shows that teenagers and young adults suffer most from isolation. Youth is a time when biology is insistent on connecting with others, particularly with a member of the opposite sex, and the absence of intimate relationships is felt most keenly. Some young people feel not only lonely, but rejected and ostracized. When that occurs we see the rejection play out in severe anti-social behavior as in the case of the school shootings of recent years (Twenge, Baumeister, Tice, & Stucke, 2001).
While Census data indicates that interracial ..
If we ask people to recall relationships of the past, what do they volunteer as being the cause of initial attraction? In one study, the participants were asked to describe how they had fallen in love or formed a friendship describing a specific relationship from the past (Aron, Dutton, Aron, & Iverson, 1989). These accounts were then categorized for the presence or absence of the attraction variables. For those describing falling in love, reciprocal liking and attractiveness were mentioned with high frequency. To start a relationship many of us just wait to see if an attractive person makes a move that we can interpret as liking. Reciprocal liking and attractiveness in several meanings are also associated with the formation of friendships. Although this holds true for both genders, conversation appears as one additional important quality for females. Women find quality conversation of greater importance than do men in friendship attraction (Duck, 1994a; Fehr, 1996).