AQA A Psychology PSYA3 Maintenance of Relationships

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Social Exchange Theory
Profit and Loss
All social behaviour is series of exchanges
Individuals attempt to maximise rewards and minimise costs
In our society ­ exchange resources and expect a profit
Rewards from a relationship ­ cared for, companionship and sex
Costs from a relationship ­ effort, finances, time wasted (i.e missed opportunities due to being in a
Reward ­ cost = outcome
Theory suggests commitment is correlated to the amount of positive outcome (profit)
Comparison Level
Thibaut and Kelley ­ in a relationship we make a comparison level for future relationships
Comparison level ­ product of experiences in other relationships with general views of expectations
if exchanged for new relationship
If comparison level to be judged as a profit, new relationship will form
If comparison level to be judged as a loss, old relationship is seen as unattractive and unsatisfactory
Rewards ­ costs of ending relationship = comparison level
Equity Theory
Inequity and Distress
Messick and Cook ­ people strive to achieve fairness in relationship and feel distressed if they
perceive unfairness
Any kind of inequity has potential to create distress.
People who give great deal in a relationship and get little in return would perceive inequity, therefore
become dissatisfied
Same is true for those who receive a great deal and give little in return ­ also inequitable relationship
and same consequence of dissatisfaction.
Greater the dissatisfaction, greater the distress
Stafford and Canary ­ asked over 200 married couples to complete measures of equity and
relationship satisfaction. Found that satisfaction was highest for spouses who perceived their
relationships to be equitable, followed by overbenefited partners and lowest for underbenefited
Couples also completes measures of maintenance ­ 5 strategies to pick ­ positivity, openness,
assurances, social networks and sharing tasks. Under benefited husbands reported significantly
lower levels of three of these compared to equitable or overbenefited husbands
Ratio inputs and outputs
Equity not the same as equality ­ possible for each partner to contribute/receive different amounts
and for relationship to still be equitable ­ dependant on subjectivity of each partner on how much
receiving is wanted
One partner may think they are putting enough ­ however other may not see it that way
Explained in terms of a person's perceived ration of inputs and outputs, subjective assessment
Partner 1's costs ­ benefits = partner 2's benefits ­ costs
If inequality perceived, motivated to restore, for example change amount put into relationship,
demands we want and perceptions of relative inputs and outputs to restore equity
Comparison level also used to see whether or not investment would be worth it

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Profit and Loss
Notion used to explain why some women stay in abusive relationships
Rusbult and Martz ­ investments are high (e.g children and financial security) and alternatives low
(nowhere to live, no money) considered profit situation, therefore woman may stay in relationship
Comparison level
Simpson ­ asked participants to rate members of opposite sex in terms of attractiveness ­ those
participants already involved in a relationship gave lower ratings.…read more


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