social exchange theory

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  • social exchange theory
    • profit and loss
      • Social behaviour is series of exchanges
        • Individuals attempt to maximise their rewards and minimise losses
          • Exchange resources w/ expectations of earning a profit
            • Rewards may be sex, companionship, being cared for
              • Costs may be effort, financial investment, time wasted
                • Reward minus costs = outcomes.
                  • Commitment to r/s depends on outcomes
      • Used to explain why some women stay in abusive r/s – cost of leaving may be too great.
        • Rusbult and Martz – when investments are high e.g. kids or financial security and alternatives are low e.g. nowhere else to live or no money then this could be considered a profit situation and they stay in the r/s
    • the maintenance of romantic relationships
      • Equity theory
        • Inequity and distress
          • Extension of Social Exchange theory, central assumption is that people strive to perceive fairness.
            • Upset if perceive unfairness – Messick and Cock
        • Ratio of inputs and outputs
          • Partners can put in dif amounts and r/s still equitable because what’s considered fair is a subjective opinion for each partner
            • Equitable r/s should be  one person’s benefits – their costs = other person’s benefit – their costs
              • If we perceive inequity then we are motivated to restore it
                • Maybe by changing amount put in or amounts we demand from r/s
                  • May compare r/s to CL level to see if worth continuing investment or to begin new one
        • Equity and satisfaction
          • Stanford and Canary supp – satisfaction highest with spouses who thought their r/s was equitable
            • Followed by over-benefited partners
              • Lowest by under-benefited partners
        • Exchange and communal r/s
          • Clarke and Mills – exchange r/s between colleagues may involve keeping track of rewards and costs
            • Communal r/s e.g. friends/lovers governed by desire to respond to needs
        • The role of r/s inequality in marital disruptions
          • Demaris – Marital inequity associated with later marital disruptions.
            • Only subjective index is a woman’s sense of being under-benefited with greater UB increasing risk of divorce
        • Equity an insufficient theory
          • Ragsdale and Brandau-Brown – rejects claim that equity is key determinant of r/s satisfaction
            • Argue that this represents incomplete rendering of way in which married people behave w/ respect to each other and equity theory insufficient to explain marital maintenance.
    • comparison level
      • Thibaut and Kelly – We develop CL, standard against which we judge all our r/s
        • CL is a product of experiences, expectations and general views
          • If we judge that potential profit in r/s will exceed CL the r/s seen as worthwhile and vice versa
            • CL for alternatives where person compares rewards from leaving r/s minus costs of leaving r/s. If the rewards gained are significantly higher person will leave current r/s and take up alternative
      • CL
        • Simpson et al – pps asked to rate members of opp sex in terms of attractiveness. Those in r/s have lower ratings
          • Social Exchange theory doesn’t explain why some people leave r/s w/ no alternatives
            • Nor how great the disparity in CL has to be to become unsatisfactory
    • limitations
      • Focuses too much on individual’s perspective, ignores social aspect e.g. how partners communicate and interpret shared events.
        • Duck and Santz – are people only motivated by self-concerns and does this only apply to individualist cultures (if at all)?
    • cultural bias
      • Moghaddam et al – such economic theories only apply to Western individuals with high mobility e.g. students who are typically mobile and many short-term r/s
        • Where there is little time to develop long-term commitment it makes sense to be concerned with give and take
          • With less mobile populations, more likely to value security than personal profit
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