Psychology 3724F-001

The Science of Romantic Relationships

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.


This course provides an overview of the field of intimate relationships. Current empirical research is emphasized. Topics include theoretical perspectives on intimate relationships (e.g., social psychological theory, evolutionary and life histories theory, interpersonal attraction, love, sexuality, communication within relationships, and various relationship challenges (conflict, violence, power, loss, etc.).


Antirequisites: Psychology 3726F/G, 3790G if taken in 2012/13


Antirequisites are courses that overlap sufficiently in content that only one can be taken for credit. So if you take a course that is an antirequisite to a course previously taken, you will lose credit for the earlier course, regardless of the grade achieved in the most recent course.


Prerequisites: Psychology 2820E or both Psychology 2800E and 2810

2 lecture hours, 1 tutorial hour, 0.5 course


Unless you have either the prerequisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enroll in it, you may be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record. This decision may not be appealed. You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites.


       Instructor:   Lorne Campbell                          

       Office and Phone Number:  SSC 6328, 661-2111 ext. 84904

       Office Hours: Mondays 2-3pm; or by appointment  



       Teaching Assistants: TBA                            


       Time and Location of Classes:   Tuesdays, 12:30 – 2:30pm, SSC 2036


       Time and locations of tutorials/labs: Thursdays: (1) 12:30 – 1:30 pm, SH 3305; (2) 1:30 – 2:30 pm,

       UCC 58; (3) 12:30 – 1:30 pm, SSC 3014; (4) 1:30 – 2:30 pm, UCC 60

If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, there are several resources here at Western to assist you.  Please visit: for more information on these resources and on mental health.

Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also wish to contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 519-661-2111 ext 82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.


Fletcher, G.J.O., Simpson, J.A., Campbell, L., & Overall, N. (2013). The science of intimate relationships. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.


The purpose of this course is to develop a thorough understanding of the psychology of romantic, intimate relationships. The topics include interpersonal attraction, relationship maintenance, and relationship dissolution. The objectives are to be aware of current theory and research regarding different facets of intimate relationships, and to critically evaluate this literature.


Lectures are intended to complement the textbook. Thus, material that is not in the book will be presented each week during lecture. An overview of the powerpoint slides (overheads) presented at lectures will be posted in advance on the course website. If you wish, you can print copies of the slides, bring them to class, and use them as a framework for taking notes.


Discussion during lecture time is encouraged, so please feel free to ask questions at any point and to offer your thoughts about issues raised in the lectures.


Tutorial/laboratory meetings will focus on specific aspects of the week’s topic. Sometimes the lab will involve watching a movie and discussing it afterwards, sometimes the lab will expose students to concrete elements of a research topic (e.g., different perspectives on gender differences in interpersonal attraction), and sometimes the lab will involve discussion of a pertinent topic. Tutorial/lab sections are limited to 25 students per section.


Learning Outcome

Learning Activity


Depth and Breadth of Knowledge


Describe , identify and explain the evolutionary, personal, interpersonal, and developmental factors that influence thoughts, feelings and behaviors of partners in romantic relationships



Lecture; Class discussions; Textbook



Exams, Tutorial participation

Application of Knowledge


Articulate the above concepts when critically evaluating research and building persuasive arguments in this area



Lecture; Class discussions; Textbook



Exams, Tutorial participation

Application of Methodologies


Explain how personal, situational, and relationship factors apply to the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of partners in romantic relationships



Lecture; Class discussions; Textbook



Exams, Tutorial participation

Communication Skills


Communicate ideas clearly and concisely, in language accessible to intelligent non-experts (oral and written formats)



Lecture; Class discussions; Textbook, paper



Exams, Tutorial participation, paper

Awareness of Limits of Knowledge


Describe and explain the limits of research conclusions in the context of methodological practices within the field




Lecture; Class discussions; Textbook




Exams, Tutorial participation

Autonomy and Professional Capacity


Develop the ability to critique others’ writing politely and professionally




Lecture; Class discussions




Exams, Tutorial participation


Please note that I do not make grade adjustments (e.g., applying a bell curve to the distribution of marks on a test or paper). Also, I cannot adjust marks on the basis of need (e.g., because a certain mark is necessary to get into a particular academic program).


There will be four components to the marking scheme: attendance at tutorial sessions (worth 10%), a Midterm Exam (worth 30%), an essay (worth 30%), and a Final Exam (worth 30%).


Note: You must pass the essay component to pass the course. That is, the average mark for your written assignments must be at least 50%.

Although the Psychology Department does not require instructors to adjust their course grades to conform to specific targets, the expectation is that course marks will be distributed around the following averages:

70%     1000-level and 2000-level courses
72%     2190-2990 level courses
75%     3000-level courses
80%     4000-level courses
The Psychology Department follows the University of Western Ontario grading guidelines, which are as follows (see ):

A+  90-100      One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level
A    80-89        Superior work that is clearly above average
B    70-79        Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory
C    60-69        Competent work, meeting requirements
D    50-59        Fair work, minimally acceptable
F    below 50    Fail


The two exams (Midterm Exam and Final Exam) will be a mix of multiple-choice and short answer questions. The exams will be 2 hours long. Both text and lecture material will be tested. 


            MIDTERM TEST: October 31, 2017

     FINAL EXAM:      TBA (during exam schedule)


Make-Up Exams: Tests must be written on the scheduled dates unless you have a legitimate excuse recognized by the university administration. Valid reasons include medical or compassionate reasons, and must be substantiated by proper documentation (e.g., a medical certificate, which will be verified by the Office of the Dean). A student who misses a regularly scheduled exam for other reasons, or who cannot justify a claim, will be assigned a 0 for the exam.




The paper (worth 30%) will be a 10-page double-spaced paper of text (minimum 2500 words of text, maximum 3725 of text), plus title page, references, and tables (if any). Please use Times New Roman font, size 12, with margins of 1 inch (2.54 cm) on all four sides (left, right, top, bottom).


The paper is due on the date of the last lecture. Essays that are late will be penalized 1 mark (out of 30) every 2 days. You must submit both a hard copy and an electronic copy of your paper (which will be submitted to TurnItIn). Further instructions regarding electronic submission will be provided.


For the paper you will (a) identify an article in the popular media (e.g., newspaper, magazine) that highlights the results of relationship relevant research (e.g., “new research shows that sex once a week is ideal”), (b) track down and read the original research paper that the article was describing, (c) identify other academic publications that addressed the topic, and (d) write a paper that critically evaluates the veracity of the claims made in the popular media article (e.g., is sex once a week “really” ideal given the existing literature on this topic? Did the original study really make this claim? Etc..).


September 12

       Lecture 1   Organizational Class; Introduction to the study of intimate relationships

       Readings:  Chapter 1


                        Lab/Tutorial topic: Introduction, discussion of essay assignment


       September 19

       Lecture 2   Relationship Science—Key theories and concepts

       Readings:  Chapter 2


                        Lab/Tutorial topic: Levels of explanation for human behavior


       September 26

       Lecture 3   The relationship mind

       Readings:  Chapter 3


                        Lab/Tutorial topic: Implicit and explicit processes in relationships


       October 3

       Lecture 4   The relationship body

       Readings:  Chapter 4


                        Lab/Tutorial topic: Distress and eustress in relationships


       October 10       No Class—Fall reading week 


       October 17

       Lecture 5   Attachment and life history theory

       Readings:  Chapter 5


                        Lab/Tutorial topic: Change in attachment orientations over time



       October 24

       Lecture 6   Interpersonal attraction

       Readings:  Chapter 6


                        Lab/Tutorial topic: Culture and attraction


       October 31

       Lecture 7   Midterm Test


                        Lab/Tutorial topic: No lab


       November 7

       Lecture 8   Love and commitment

       Readings:  Chapter 7


                        Lab/Tutorial topic: Same-sex relationships


       November 14

       Lecture 9   Reading each other’s minds

       Readings:  Chapter 8


                        Lab/Tutorial topic: Assessing empathic accuracy


       November 21

       Lecture 10 Communication and interaction

       Readings:  Chapter 9


                        Lab/Tutorial topic: Body language


       November 28

       Lecture 11 Sex and passion

       Readings:  Chapter 10


                        Lab/Tutorial topic: Sexual and relationship satisfaction


       December 5

       Lecture 12 The Dark side of relationships: Relationship Violence; Relationship Dissolution

       Readings:  Chapters 11 & 12


                        Lab/Tutorial topic: Staying in bad relationships


            TBA      Final Exam (During final exam period December 10-21)


Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offenses. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offenses because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offense are described at the following link:

As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offenses. All multiple-choice tests and exams will be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses using reliable software, and records will be made of student seating locations in all tests and exams. All written assignments will be submitted to TurnItIn, a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism by comparing written material to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn’s databases. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between Western and

Possible penalties for a scholastic offense include failure of the assignment, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University.


Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at: 

Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation:


Office of the Registrar web site:

Student Development Services web site:

Please see the Psychology Undergraduate web site for information on the following:

- Policy on Cheating and Academic Misconduct
- Procedures for Appealing Academic Evaluations
- Policy on Attendance
- Policy Regarding Makeup Exams and Extensions of Deadlines
- Policy for Assignments
- Short Absences
- Extended Absences
- Documentation
- Academic Concerns
- 2017 Calendar References

No electronic devices, including cell phones and smart watches, will be allowed during exams.