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Outline one theory of the maintenance of relationships. The social exchange theory (Thibaut and Kelley) revolves around profit and loss within relationships.

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Outline one theory of the maintenance of relationships (9marks) The social exchange theory (Thibaut and Kelley) revolves around 'profit' and 'loss' within relationships. Each person attempts to maximise their rewards (profit) and minimise their costs (loss). Rewards range from sex, companionship and being cared for. Costs could be things such as effort, money or misses opportunities. A four stage model for a long term relationship was developed, this includes: Sampling, this where the couple explores the rewards and costs in a variety of relationships. Bargaining is where the couple 'costs out' the relationship and identifies the sources of profit and loss. Commitment is when the couple settles into a relationship; the exchange of rewards becomes predictable, and lastly, institutionalisation where the interactions are established and the couple have 'settled down'. Thibaut and Kelley both recognized the importance of influences beyond an analysis of the relationship itself. So, they introduced two 'reference' levels; the comparison level and the comparison level for alternatives. ...read more.


(1994) found that equity theory failed to predict relationship satisfaction because it fails to take into account the variance in the contexts of modern-day relationships. A lack of consistent empirical support is evident as Clark and Mills (1979) identified two different styles of couples: the 'communal couple' and the 'exchange couple'. In the communal couple, concern and positive regard for the other motivates giving; only in the exchange couple is there kind of 'score-keeping' that is predicted by exchange theory. People in communal relationships do have some concern over equity, but they are more relaxed over what it compromises. They tend to think that in a relationship, rewards and costs eventually balance out and equity is achieved. There also seem to be gender differences as Prins et al. (1993) found that among Dutch couples, inequity in a relationship had different consequences for males and females. Males who perceived inequity in their relationship did not express the desire to have an affair nor did they report they had done so. ...read more.


Strength of using a meta-analysis is that the reliance on single studies is reduced by combining the results of several studies investigating similar research hypotheses; it allows researchers to gain an important overview of research in a specific area. By using a meta-analysis increases the reliability of a study. This is because the researcher is simply repeating a previous study using the same methods but with different subjects and experimenters. A weakness of using a meta-analysis is that it relies on published studies, which, given the publication bias towards publishing only studies that show positive results, may show an overall effect that is not really indicative of relationships in real life. Rusbult and Martz (1995) applied the investment model to abusive relationships. They found women did not leave when the abuse began as they felt the greatest commitment to their relationship when their economic alternatives (money) were poor and their investment was great. This is at best a partial account. There are no account for biology, genes and neurotransmitters or learned behaviours. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)


The writer has included many studies which have been carried out with regard to equity theory. However, the writer would have scored more highly if they had planned the essay better. This should include an introduction to social exchange and equity theory. It should also include a conclusion at the end. The writer should also use their own words throughout to avoid being accused of plagiarism. However, the essay does cover most of the salient points and so with more planning the essay score could be improved.

Score 3*

Marked by teacher Linda Penn 05/09/2013

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