Discuss and evaluate one theory about the Maintenance of Relationships

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There are two main theories associated with this topic. These are the Social Exchange Theory and Equity theory. The one I amgoing to talk about is the Social Exchange Theory. This theory was thought up by Thibaut and Kelly and it states that for a relationship to maintain the partner must have maximised the rewards and minimised the costs. The rewards can include things like: sex, companionship and being cared for whilst the costs can include: Effort, financial investment, time wasted. They think that the amount of commitment depends on how profitable the relationship is for them. This therefore makes this study very economic. Thibaut and Kelly also thought that we have a comparison level which is a standard at which all of our relationships are judged. Our comparison level is a mix of our experiences in previous relationships and the general views of what we might expect from a relationship. So if in the past they have had very poor relationships they may expect very little from subsequent ones.

There was a study done by Simpson et al which supports this theory. In this study they used the Social Exchange Theory to look at how people in relationships deal with potential alternatives. They did this by asking participants to rate people of the opposite sex. From this they found that Participants already in relationships gave lower ratings than those who weren’t. However the Social Exchange Theory


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