• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

'Relationships are nothing more than a means of gain'. Discuss.

Extracts from this document...


´╗┐Nadia Mondesir 6U5 ?Relationships are nothing more than a means of gaining reward? The idea put forward that we indulge in relationships as nothing more than a means of gaining rewards is based purely on an economic perspective. This concept tries to explain how couples regulate their relationships, conveying the idea that we maintain our relationships so long as we feel that we are gaining from it, whether it is in receiving or the fact that we find rewards in fulfilling our other halves needs. We can see that this theory neglects the notion of ?love and first sight?, and takes a rather selfish outlook on human behaviour. Through research, it is event that there are many studies that both support and contradict this idea. The social exchange theory which was first developed by Thibaut and Kelley (1959) suggests to us that we focus on the exchange of rewards and costs that occur between partners in on-going mating relationships. Although a number of social exchange theories exist, each with its own particular terminology and ?take? on the process of relationship development, they all share a few basic assumptions. The first assumption is that individuals seek to maximise their rewards and minimise their costs. Rewards and costs come in different forms, from concrete and tangible goods such as money, sex, children etc. ...read more.


This may because their current partner meets or exceeds their CL and so therefore does not find it necessary to look elsewhere. However Social Exchange theory does not, on the other hand explain why some people leave a relationship though having no alternative, nor does it suggest how great the disparity in CL has to be for it to become unsatisfactory. In support of this theory it is able to generalise its proposals to all kinds of relationships including friendships, work colleagues, family etc. This suggests a more ample theory and therefore may be more credible against other theories. Some argue that this theory does not account for individual or gender differences- in my opinion is does, because it does not claim a monopoly of the truth of what profit and loss is, therefore leaving it as a subjective concept which can be perceived and defined as desired by each individual. Finally, social exchange theory has been criticised for ignoring an essential component of relationships: fairness in exchange rather than seeking a profit. Equity theory was developed to extend the social exchange theory and takes this into account. This brings us onto another major economic theory on the maintenance of relationships ? the Equity theory proposed by Walster (1978). This argues people look for fairness in a relationship with giving and receiving. ...read more.


De Maris (2007) assessed the importance of equity in relation to marital dissatisfaction and later breakdown using a sample of 1500 American couples, he found that a women?s sense of being under-benefited was most important in predicting later disruption. This raises the issue of gender issues in the perception of inequity, as more men found their relationships over-benefiting in comparison to women. Other research has shown the importance of equity in gay and lesbian relationships. Dwyer (2000) argues that lesbians put a considerable value on equity with a relationship. Miell and Croghan (1996) argue that the equity principle is more important in Western, individualistic cultures and less important in collective cultures. This concept is also supported by the study carried out by De Maris as the couples were American ? westernised and therefore may not be pertinent to a collectivist culture. Other critics argue that truly intimate relationships do not involve calculating inputs and outputs. In conclusion, the evidence advocates that relationships are maintained primarily on a reward/loss bases. Even though social exchange theory and equity theory have minute differences their general ethos remains the same ? that one would not maintain a relationship if they felt short changed and would try to restore that balance immediately. However, neither of the theories explains why women may stay in an abusive and/or oppressive relationships were they are clearly in a state of ?loss?. This brings to our attention that there must be something more to the maintenance of relationships than a means of gain? but what? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Social Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Social Psychology essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Outline one theory of the maintenance of relationships. The social exchange theory (Thibaut and ...

    3 star(s)

    Culture differences also seem to be evident. Work carried out in societies other than North America tends to give little support for the equity theory. Lujansky and Mikula (1983) found no equity effects on romantic relationships in Austria. Gergen et al.

  2. Persuasion Theory.

    The company which developed this method is the Total Research Corporation. It categorized people into the following groups: 1. Intellectual 2. Conformist 3. Popularity-seekers 4. Pragmatists 5. Active 6. Relief-seekers 7. Sentimentalists The method certainly allows for message to be critically targeted.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work