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Intimate Relationships Chapter 6

by: Kathryn Hardison

Intimate Relationships Chapter 6 HDFS 1610

Marketplace > University of Missouri - Columbia > HDFS > HDFS 1610 > Intimate Relationships Chapter 6
Kathryn Hardison

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Intimate Relationships Chapter 6
Intimate Relationships and Marriage
Class Notes
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kathryn Hardison on Saturday March 12, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to HDFS 1610 at University of Missouri - Columbia taught by in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 16 views. For similar materials see Intimate Relationships and Marriage in HDFS at University of Missouri - Columbia.


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Date Created: 03/12/16
Intimate Relationships Chapter 6­ Social Exchange Theory  Social Exchange Theory (SET) o Definition  Humans are inherently motivated to seek positive experiences and avoid  punishments o History  Originally an economic theory used to explain how people make choices  in an open market  In the past fifty years, it has been applied to romantic relationships to help  explain why people begin and maintain their relationships o Rewards  All positive experiences in relationships o Costs  All punishing or unpleasant aspects of a relationship o Approach Motivation  People tend to seek positive experiences (rewards) o Avoidance motivation  People tend to avoid negative outcomes (costs) o Evaluating a Potential Partner  Basic formula  SET theorists argue that we simply subtract the costs of continuing contact from the rewards and arrive at an outcome  Rewards – cost = outcome  Both partners have to evaluate the rewards as higher than the costs  People enter into this decision­making process with pre­existing  thoughts, feelings, and expectations about what we want in a  relationship o Comparison level (CL)  The set of expectations you have for a relationship  and everything you think you should be getting out  of the relationship  Your level is formed from previous experiences  either with romantic partners or in family  relationships  People learn what to expect based on how people  treat them in relationships throughout their lives o Comparison level for alternatives (CLalt)  People’s potential partners outside of their current  relationship  A measure of how well you believe someone else  could fulfill your comparison level  Your relationship will be more stable if your CLalt  is low o Evaluative Component  Evaluative component of social exchange is  between CL/CLalt and the outcome  Satisfaction  The comparison between the CL and the  outcome   If you are getting more than you hoped for  in a relationship, you are likely to be happy  Stability  The comparison between the CLalt and the  outcome  Individuals who perceive themselves as  having very few options outside the  relationship that would measure up to their  current partner are likely to stay in the  relationship o Relationships between CL, CLalt, and Outcome  Investments  All of the things you lose if you leave the  relationship  Physical or material things o Ex: a favorite sweater, CD, etc. o Ex: Leaving a marriage causes  people to lose the social, financial,  and personal benefits of having a  legal and permanent partnership  Commitments  Satisfaction (related to CL), alternatives  (related to CLalt), and investments all  contribute to the level of commitment in a  relationship  This model also helps explain why people  might stay in unhappy or abusive  relationships  Encourages people to make sacrifices for  their relationship and to perceive their union to be stronger and better than others’   Time  Relationships evolve with time as the couple learns more about each other, faces  challenges, and settles into a committed  intimate union  Ways relationships change: o The positive impact of rewards  decreases o The negative impact of costs  increases o Individuals try less to impress and  please their partners o Intimacy corrodes the perfect image  people initially maintain of their  partners. Flaws become more  obvious over time o The CL is likely to rise, making it  harder and harder to meet or exceed  our partners’ expectations  There are benefits to prolonged intimacy  Over time, romantic partners are likely to  get better at targeting the kinds of rewards  that are truly valued by the other person o Equitable Relationships  Whether you are getting outcomes from your relationship that are  proportional to the contributions you make to do it  When a relationship is inequitable, one partner gets better or worse  outcomes that what he or she is contribution o Communal and Exchange Relationship  Communal relationship  Neither partner keeps careful track of who owes what  Common among best friends, married couples, and anyone with a  long­term relationship  Exchange relationships  Each party tries to keep a consistent balance of rewards given and  received so that no one feels cheated


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