Relationship Maintenance: Social Exchange Theory

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  • Created by: Leah
  • Created on: 01-06-13 17:56

Theories of Relationships:

Social Exchange Theory (SET)

  • Social Exchange Theory attempts to explain the maintenance of relationships based upon the balance of cost and rewards. This is known as an economic theory.
  • This theory states that people stay in a relationship because they feel what they are putting in the relationship and what they are getting out is balanced.
  • Rewards can be companionship, sex, security, social factors, financial support etc, while costs include loss of freedom, emotional distress, time and effort etc.
  • If the reward outweigh the costs, the relationship is in a state of profit. If the costs outweigh the benefits, the relationship is in a state of loss. Being in a state of profit leads to satisfaction and so motivation to continue the relationship, while being in a states of loss will lead to dissatisfaction and can lead to the dissolution of the relationship.
  • In order to work out if a relationship is likely to lead to profit or loss, Thibaut and Kelly developed the comparison level test. This is the standard against which we test our relationships. The CLT is a result of our previous relationship experience and our general expectation of our current relationship.
  • A relationship will be considered in profit if it exceeds previous relationship experiences and expectations. The relationship will be seen as a loss if it doesn't measure up to previous relationships or it does not meet expectations, leading to dissatisfaction.
  • This theory is very clinical and reduces human…


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