Relationship maintenance

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  • Created by: imanilara
  • Created on: 25-02-16 08:58

Social exchange theory AO1


-Based of the idea that relationships are a series of exchanges: people want to minimise the costs and maximise the rewards.
-Rewards we may get from relationship: sex, being cared for
-Costs: financial investment, effort
-People want the rewards to outweigh the costs in order to gain a profitable outcome
-There are two comparisons: between actual and expected rewards, and with alternative relationships
-expected and actual is about comparing the rewards/costs in the current relationship with your past one
-alternative is comparing the current relationship to one you feel you could be in+that u could do better in

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Social exchange theory AO2

Simpson et al (1990)

-Looked at how people in a relationship deal w alternatives
-They do this by reducing them as a threat in order to protect their relationship
-Asked single and ppl in relationship to rate people of opposite sex
-Relationship people rated them lower- they wanted to protect the relationship+maintain the equilibrium of rewards/costs without threat

-Does show that people want to maintain an equal between rewards/costs
-Doesn't explain why some people leave when there is no alternative
-What point the costs must outweigh the rewards for the person to leave
-Doesn't detail the disparity level needed in comparison level for a person to be dissatisfied

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Cultural Bias:

-Only explains maintenance in individualist, western cultures, where short term relationships mroe common, and superficial things like rewards/costs make a significant impact
-In collectivist cultures, relationships maintained due to family pressure, religious beliefs and expectations-eg if woman is dissatisfied in middle east she cannot divorce, but man can divorce with no reason

Real World Application:

-Gottman (1992) found that people in failed marriages reported lack of positive exchanges and lots of negative exchanges
-In successful marriages, positive to negative is 5:1, in unsuccessful relationships 1:1 and even lower
-counsellors should aim to increase the ratio of positive to negative exchanges

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Equity Theory AO1

-Extension of SET- people want to gain equality/fairness in the rewards/costs
-According to theory, if there is an inequality, this causes distress+dissatisfaction
-Equitable doesnt mean that each person puts in an equal amount and gets the same output- it is subjective
-equitable relaitonship= benefits minus costs=other persons benefits minus costs
-if we perceive inequality in relationship we want to change it:
-spend more time in the relationship/ reduce demands of partner

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Equity Theory

De Marris 2007-weakness
-What happens in inequitable relationships? Looked into inequity in marital disruption
-1500 couples in the US national survey of families+households
-the only subjective index of inequity with women feeling like they are under-benefited-leading to divorce
-therefore other types of inequity are ok-couples are still maintained
-historical validity -large sample -culturally biased

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Cultural bias: -Only in Western cultures where maintenance is a concern for couples- in islamic/tribal cultures divorce is less permitted and so would they evaluate the equity of the relationship if they know there is no way out?
-It doesn't look at the maintenance of homosexual relationships + therefore isnt generalisable
Reductionist: Doesnt explain complex LTR's- comparison level might change overtime?

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