RELATIONSHIPS - The Social Exchange Theory (SET)

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  • The Social Exchange Theory
    • General
      • economic approach -> max profit min cost
      • introduced by Thiabault and Kelley (1959)
      • perception of just ONE PERSON in rel (not about what partners thinks)
    • Evaluation (A03)
      • doesn't consider emotions / feelings of people
      • selfish approach to maintenance / breakdown of rel -> selfish
      • perception is NOT a criticism of theory - that's how it actually is in rels. Someone's behav is based on their perception
      • ARGYLE - claimed methodology was artificial, with little relevance to real life
      • research concentrated on short-term rels, not on the consequences of long-terms rels, where maintenance = more important
      • theory applies to people who 'keep score' - people who are more suspicious and insecure. Suggetss theory only relates to people lacking confidence and mutuak trust
    • Rewards & costs
      • perception of what you are getting out of rel (may not be what you are actually getting)
        • deception -> may not see what is going on
      • rewards: examples
        • emotional / financial support
        • sex
        • companionship
        • eye candy / status / power over someone
        • praise
    • Comparison Level (CL)
      • compares idea rel to current rel
        • from media - films, Disney, celeb couples
        • from parents , siblings etc
        • previous rel
      • if DOES NOT match ideal, rel may breakdown and vie versa
    • Comparison Level for Alternatives (CLA)
      • being single, being with some one else
      • if i was with them, would there be more profit with them?
      • may be more rewarding to be single than with someone (more freedom)
    • 4 stage model
      • 1. Sampling -> rewards + costs assessed in a number of rels
      • 2. Bargaining -> rel is 'costed out' and sources of profit and loss are identified
      • 3. Commitment -> rel is established and maintained by a predictable exchange of rewards
      • 4. Institutionalisation -> interactions are established and couple 'settle down'
    • Research
      • HATFIELD - people in under-benefited rels = angry & deprived, over-ben rels = guilty & uncomfortable
      • RUSBULT - costs and rewards of rel were compared against those of alternative rels in order to decided if rel should be maintained (CLA)
      • RUSBULT - women who'd been assaulted by partners were likely to return to them as they had no better alternatives due to lower education, no job prospects and little money access


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