PSYA3 Relationships - Relationship Maintenance

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  • Created by: emilyleah
  • Created on: 28-05-13 12:49

Theories of Relationship Maintenance

Social Exchange Theory: Thibault + Kelley (1959) AO1

- Centre of theory = all social behaviour is series of exchanges that individuals attempt to maximise their rewards and minimise costs. If the rewards outweigh the costs the relationships is in profit. If costs outweigh the rewards, the relationship is in a state of loss

- 2 levels to the theory:
-Comparison level: comparison between current and past relationship or what we think is appropriate. If current relationship compares well, motivated to stay in it.

-Comparison Level for Alternatives: look at benefits of alternative relationship e.g. alternative partner may offer more positive outcomes. If they feel they can do better then they end it.


Simpson et al (1990): how people deal with the threat of potential alternatives. Asked PPS to rate people in terms of physical attractiveness and found PPS who were in a relationship gave lower ratings. Had effect of lowering perceived profits associated with potential new partner so reducing any threat to existing relationship.

Abusive Relationships:
 Rusbutt and Martz (1995)
: argues theory can explain why some women stay in abusive relationships. When investments are high (children) and alternatives are low (money) then even an abusive relationship may be seen as profitable so motivated to stay in the relationship.
X: women may just be scared to leave relationship


Cultural Bias
Moghaddam (1998)
suggests the theory only applies to western cultures and even then only to certain types of relationship


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