Relationship Maintenance

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  • Created by: kelsey
  • Created on: 19-04-12 19:48

The Social Exchange Theory

  • Relationships as Exchange of Commodities
  • Motivated to Maximise rewards & Minimise costs (rewards= companionship, sex... costs= effort, financial costs)
  • Rewards minus costs should = Profit
  • Comparison level (CL)- a standard our r.ships judged. A product of past experiences, familiy relationships, media. 
  • If potential profit exceeds CL, r.ship judged worthwhile. If profit less than CL then dissatisfied.
  • Comparison level for alternatives- person weighs up potential increase of rewards in alt. partner vs. costs with ending current r.ship. New relationship takes place if profit exceeds costs.
  • RUSBULT> Investments (loss of home, children, mutual friends)
  • Predicts maintenance when - Both partners satisifed with rewards - No valuable alt. - Costs of leaving high


  • RUSBULT- interviewed women from refuge. Women with heavy investments (child) went back to abusive partner (also suffered less serious abuse). This shows long-term relationships do not simply depend on rewards and costs, but investments too.
  • It can explain individual differences well within and between cultures. Different perceptions of rewards/costs. Differences within individual may change over time because alt. change, affecting CL. It can explain why some people remain in unsatisfactory r.ships, and others in satisfactory leave.


  • Beta


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