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Describe and evaluate two theories of interpersonal relationships.

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Describe and evaluate two theories of interpersonal relationships. The social exchange theory is based upon the idea that relationships are formed on the rewards and costs of the relationship and that the most appealing are those with maximum reward for minimum cost to the parties involved. This theory can be applied to all types of relationships, including family, work, friendship and romantic relationships. Homans suggested that before we start a new relationship we weigh up the possible rewards and benefits of the relationship before setting out in it, this appplies to both partners and therefore for a relationship to continue or begin it must be mutually beneficial. Rewards are considered to be anything that we find pleasurable, be it, a compliment, affection, material or prestigious. Therefore costs are anything in which we find no pleasure, such as bad habits or arguments. Homans believed we analyse these costs and benefits before we embark on a relationship. However we are not as calculating as this and think very little of the costs of relationship at the beginning instead considering only the positive aspects which are to be gained. Lloyd supports this theory; he found that a couple who starts out with a highly rewarding relationship is more likely to be sustainable and mutually beneficial than one which begins with few rewards. ...read more.


Therefore the model is predictive and as such has a valuable point in its favour. However it does not consider those who remain in long term relationships because the prospect of a single life commands too much uncertainty to be a sound alternative, and once in the relationship it is harder to leave. Therefore indiviual differences play a role in the continuation of the relationship and this is not considered as this would vary with the person and thus how strong they are depends on how likely they are to make a break if they believe they are gaining little form the relationship. An explanation of why we remain in a relationship is the level of investment we have already placed in the relationship and may explain why people continue in a relationship that has long been stagnant. Importantly though it does not consider how a once good relationship changes over time and why a relationship becomes unsatisfactory or stagnant. These investments may be anything we would lose if we left, such as a house, car or time and energy. Rusbult believed the greater the investment the less likely the personwas to leave, therefore this offers a more plausible explanation of how and why relationships break down, those who have invested less or see the waste of their investment find it easier to leave. ...read more.


This may offer a more plausible explanatiuon for why an abusive relationship may continue as they gain pleasure from the high's and thus consider these when evaluating the reasons to remain in the relationship. The culture from which we come may also affect the value of this model. Berman researched this possibility and asked participants to decide who tey should give a job to the needy or the excellent worker. He found that given the opportunity to decide whom they should give a job those who came from an individualistic culture placed higher value on excelling in their job and those form the collectivist culture the needy. Which corresponds with their culture as value is placed on need or achievement therefore this suggests that equity can not give us a universally accepted explanation. It applies to those who base their life on investment, be it education and achievement etc and therefore cannot explain the continuation of a relationship universally merely one culture. In conclusion it is important to note that both explanations have valuable points to consider and yet neither is able to give a universal explanation of relationships. The equity theory seems more plausible than the exchange theory as it considers the partner and the individual. However even this gives little weight to reasons other than economic reasons and therefore although there may be a little of each in every relationship it is not the only force governing relationships and these are the more important factors to consider. ...read more.

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