16 terms

Ch. 11: Social Exchange Theory

STUDY
PLAY
What is Social Exchange Theory?
Social Exchange theory looks at the economics of relationships; how people evaluate the costs and rewards of their current relationships.
SET: 'Costs' & 'Rewards'
-Costs: the negative aspects of a relationship such as: time invested, stress, energy, attention*
-Rewards: the positive aspects of a relationship such as fun, loyalty, companionship, attention
*items that are evaluated as costs at one point in a relationship could be viewed as rewards at a different point in time (& vice versa)
Who created Social Exchange Theory?
Thibaut & Kelley (1959). It states that an individual
What is the formula used in evaluating the overall value of a relationship is 'calculated'?
Worth=Rewards-Costs

-Negative costs are subtracted from positive rewards.
-When rewards exceed costs, the overall evaluation is positive.
-When costs exceed rewards, the overall evaluation is negative.
-The overall evaluation is seen as a predictor of the life of the relationship (outcome)- we keep positive & ditch the negative.
Different types of Exchange theories
Exchange Theory is more complex than just an evaluation of rewards and costs. Some look at economic exchanges (goods & services), while others look at the more intangible benefits (connections with others & trust)
-All have a common thread that ties them together" the mutual advancement in some way of both parties' self interest.
Assumptions of Social Exchange Theory about Human Nature
-Humans seek rewards and avoid punishments
-Human beings are rational: we use the cost/reward system to help guide subsequent behaviors.. BUT we also use rationalization to justify less-than-rational decisions after the fact, mostly as an attempt to feel better about our choices.
-The standards we use to evaluate costs and rewards differ from person to person and vary over time
Assumptions of Social Exchange Theory about the Nature of Relationships
-Relationships are interdependent: partners co-create the nature and outcome of a relationship, so its outcome isn't decided by one person
-Relational life is a process (learn as you go): past experiences inform future expectations and judgements.
Relationship Evaluation: Comparison Level (CL)
A subjective standard that represents what a person feels they should receive from a relationship. CL's vary from person to person and are often built from prior experience (satisfying)
Relationship Evaluation: Comparison Level for Alternatives (CLalt)
A subjective standard that represents the minimum level of rewards that a person will accept and still stay in a relationship and is compared to possible rewards from a different relationship or rewards available from being alone.
CLalt's are used as a stability measure.
Relationships are viewed as satisfying & stable when:
- Outcome > CL> CLalt
- Outcome > CLalt > CL
Relationships are viewed as satisfying and UNstable when:
- CLalt > Outcome > CL
Relationships are viewed as UNsatisfying and stable when:
- CL > Outcome > CLalt
Relationships are viewed as UNsatisfying and UNstable when:
- CLalt > CL > Outcome
- CL > CLalt > Outcome
'Exchange Patterns'
Exchange patterns help explain how people adjust their behavior in relationships in order to achieve interactional 'goals'
'Behavioral Sequences'
-A series of actions used to achieve set goals:
- Behavior control: the ability to change another person's behavior by changing your own.
- Fate control: the ability to affect the outcome of another person
- Power: the degree of dependence a person has on another for outcomes
Critiques of Social Exchange Theory
-Testability: central concepts are amorphous and therefore cannot truly be operationalized and tested
-Utility: too much emphasis is placed on cognitive processes without considering individual differences
- Scope: group exchanges receive little attention-- theory is too narrow
-Heurism: theory has been used to frame many studies in a variety of areas

Still uses the ideas of rewards and costs like social penetration, but the ideas of comparison levels and comparison level alternatives differ SET from SPT
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE...