Theories of romantic relationships: SET

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  • Theories of Romantic relationships: SET
  • AO1:
  • Social exchange theory:
  • Set assumes relationships are guided by the minimax principle. Thibault and Kelley propsed that relationships  could be explained in terms of economics - it is an exchange of goods or less tangiable things such as doing a favour. Satisfaction is judged in terms of profit (the percieved value of costs minus the value of rewards). Partners are motivated to minimise the costs to themselves whilst maximising rewards. Profitable relationships continue, unprofitable relationships is at the 'cost' of expending those resources elsewhere). 
  • Comparison level (CL) is a judement of the reward level we expect in a relationship, determined by relationship experiences and social norms. We will generally pursue a relationship where the CL is high but some people (e.g. with low self-esteem) may have low CLs. 
  • CLalt is an additional measure of profit. Comaprison level for alternatives (CLalt) involves considering whether we might gain more rewards and edure fewer costs ina different relationship, assuming that (as in most cultures) we can only select one partner. We will remain in a relationship, despite available alternatives, when we consider it is more rewarding than…

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