The Maintenance of Relationships - Essay Plan

  • Created by: ml4689
  • Created on: 05-06-16 15:14

Discuss one or more theories of the maintenance of relationships

It is debated whether cognitive factors are sufficient to explain the maintenance of a relationship.

Social Exchange Theory

Arguing for the sufficiency of cognitive factors, according to the SET, we maintain a relationship if its benefits outweigh its costs on two levels. On the comparison level (CL), we compare the costs and benefits in the past, present and anticipated future of the relationship within itself. On the comparison level for alternatives (CLAlt), we make a similar benefit analysis against alternative relationships and other potential partners. The outcome is known as a payoff matrix, and a relationship is maintained in the event of a positive payoff matrix.


Suggesting the importance of cognitions in the maintenance of relationships, convincing evidence comes from…

·         Hatfield – found that participants feel angry/ deprived if costs outweigh benefits in relationship. This is evidence that the comparison level is likely to be used in maintenance of relationships.

Further strong evidence comes from…

·         Rusbult – found that relationships depend on costs and benefits later on. This is evidence that the comparison level is


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