Maintenance of relationships: equity theory

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Psychology unit 3 relationships revision
Maintenance of relationships- equity theory
Individuals still try to maximise rewards and minimise costs but fairness or equity
is the most important factor now. There is negotiation to produce fairness. Equity
(ratio of input and output) doesn't mean equality (the same amount done by each
person). Contributions are interpreted subjectively for example a man may see
ironing shirts as a big cost but a woman may see it as a small cost. An unfair or
inequitable relationship produce distress especially in the disadvantaged person
who then tries to make the relationship work but if they can't then it is likely the
relationship will end. Relationships are maintained through the perception of fair
inputs and outputs.
Men favour equitable relationships but women prefer equal relationships where
both get the same amount of benefits and because what men and women want is
different then the theory is gender biased.
Culturally biased and only applies to North America. This culture is dominated
by individualistic, capitalist and protestant work ethic. Even in Europe equality is
preferred to equity. Therefore the theory is culturally biased as there are
differences in equity and equality over different cultures.
Stafford and Canary found the happiest couples were the ones in an equitable
relationship followed by those who were over benefited and those who felt under
benefited. This supports the theory as it says that happiness is achieved through
Prins Dutch study found that men from Holland didn't seem bothered by equity
but females who felt they were in an inequitable relationship were more likely to
have an affair. The theory could explain this as if a relationship is inequitable
then the disadvantaged person will feel reluctant to stay in the relationship in
order to seek equity from someone else.
Research has shown that the only factor linked to divorce was the woman's sense
of being under benefitted. This could be gender biased as it seems to suggest
women are only ones to feel disadvantaged.
Clark and Mills believed that not all relationships were based on economics.
Only the economic relationships such as workers and colleges did there appear to
be a score keeping system consistent with equity theory. It doesn't apply to other
types of relationships such as romantic ones as these don't involve keeping check
on costs and benefits.

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Psychology unit 3 relationships revision
Long term relationships that have problems are those which tend to focus on
costs and benefits associated with the relationship. This only focuses on
relationships that have problems as positive relationships don't tend to involve
focus on costs and benefits, so the theory can't be used to explain all
relationships.…read more


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