Maintenance Of Romantic Relationships


Social Exchange Model

  • Homan, 1961
  • Most basic of economic theories - views relationships as exchanges of rewards/costs
  • Relationships seen as series of business transactions/exchanges where we maximise rewards/profits and minimise interpersonal loss
  • Blau argues interactions are expensive as they take time, energy & commitment and involve unpleasant emotions/experiences.
  • What we get out of a relationship must exceed what we put in(hedonistic) for it to continue
  • All human relationships are 'business transaction' driven by self-interest and are motivated by 'minimax strategy'
  • Relationships form and develop when:
    • Rewards outweigh costs (profit)
    • Actual rewards exceed expected rewards(Profit) - comparison level. Concerned with past relationships and present, if current compares favourably - more likely to stay
    • Reward:Cost ratio - what could be obtained in an alternative relationship doesn't exceed the ratio in the current - comparison level for alternatives. If individual is doing better in the current relationship, satisfaction will be felt and will stay.
  • Thibaut and Kelley extended Homan's theory by setting out how relationships could be maintained.


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