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Why do relationships change or end?. For this learning outcome you are asked to: Analyze why relationships change or end.

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Presentation on theme: "Why do relationships change or end?. For this learning outcome you are asked to: Analyze why relationships change or end."— Presentation transcript:

1 Why do relationships change or end?

2 For this learning outcome you are asked to: Analyze why relationships change or end

3 For this learning outcome you are asked to: Analyze why relationships change or end Well be learning about: Social Exchange Theory

4 For this learning outcome you are asked to: Analyze why relationships change or end Well be learning about: Social Exchange Theory Equity Theory

5 For this learning outcome you are asked to: Analyze why relationships change or end Well be learning about: Social Exchange Theory Equity Theory Patterns of Accommodation

6 For this learning outcome you are asked to: Analyze why relationships change or end Well be learning about: Social Exchange Theory Equity Theory Patterns of Accommodation The rules of relationships

7 For this learning outcome you are asked to: Analyze why relationships change or end Well be learning about: Social Exchange Theory Equity Theory Patterns of Accommodation The rules of relationships Trends in relationship breakdown

8 The main theories of relationship maintenance are: Social exchange theory Social exchange theory is an example of an economic theory because it compares social relationships to economic activity, such as a cost/benefits analysis. E.g. What do you gain or lose? What do you give or receive? Economic theories also argue that people run relationships according to a balance sheet principal. I.e. They aim to maximise gain or profits and minimise losses. (c) L. Hayes 2008 Adapted from Cardwell, Clark and Meldrum, 2006 8

9 Social exchange theory was one of the first economic theories of relationships and was developed by Thibaut & Kelley (1959) (c) L. Hayes 2008 Adapted from Cardwell, Clark and Meldrum, 2006 9

10 Social exchange theory uses the metaphor of typical market activity where people haggle/negotiate to get the best bargain that they can. I.e. People exchange the rewards that want to give to others for those that they want to get from others, while at the same time, trying to stay ahead (receiving more than they give). E.g. Blau (1964) argued that social interactions are expensive because they require time, energy, commitment and other valuable (limited) personal resources. Thus, what we get from relationships must pay us back in at least equal amounts (but preferably give us a profit). (c) L. Hayes 2008 Adapted from Cardwell, Clark and Meldrum, 2006 10

11 Comparison levels Thibaut and Kelley also acknowledge that influences beyond the analysis of a relationship itself are important (aka. The reference relationship). There are 2 reference levels: Comparison level Comparison level for alternatives (c) L. Hayes 2008 Adapted from Cardwell, Clark and Meldrum, 2006 11

12 Comparison levels Thibaut and Kelley Comparison level - concerned with past and present and is the comparison between the rewards and costs of the reference (current relationship) and what people were used to in previous relationships (c) L. Hayes 2008 Adapted from Cardwell, Clark and Meldrum, 2006 12

13 Comparison levels Thibaut and Kelley If the reference relationship compares favourably, people are motivated to stay in the relationship. (c) L. Hayes 2008 Adapted from Cardwell, Clark and Meldrum, 2006 13

14 Comparison levels Thibaut and Kelley Comparison level for alternatives - concerned with possible alternative relationships. I.e. When the person compares the reference relationship with others that they could be in. If they feel that they could do better in another relationship, they are less likely to maintain the current one. (c) L. Hayes 2008 Adapted from Cardwell, Clark and Meldrum, 2006 14

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16 Social Exchange Theory Can you think of any limitations of Social Exchange Theory in explaining romantic relationships?

17 SUPPORTING RESEARCH EVIDENCE Rusbult (1983) found that costs are only calculated after the honeymoon phase. Simpson (1990) found that participants who were dating rated members of the opposite sex as less attractive, showing they close themselves off from attractive alternatives. EVALUATION Mechanistic approach (how do you define costs and rewards exactly?) Cannot quantify the point of dissatisfaction. Clark & Mills (1979) argued that romantic relationships are communal rather than exchange relationships.

18 SOCIAL EXCHANGE THEORY Model of long term relationships Thibaut and Kelley(1959) All these stage theories can be criticised for being to rigid – individual differences are not considered. Will everyone go through all the stages?

19 Why does a Social Exchange type relationship breakdown? Theories referred to in terms of investment, profit, loss, costs & rewards etc. So if relationship is showing a profit then…. It will continue But if showing a loss (low amounts of positive satisfaction - few rewards) & High number of attractive alternatives. It will likely fail. Thibaut & Kelly stated that people in a relationship constantly compare their relationships with previous relationships and possible alternatives. If the present relationship compares well with others then the motivation is to maintain the current relationship.

20 Critique of Social Exchange Theory Elaine Walster criticised Kelly & Thibauts Social Exchange Theory for being too simplistic. There is no reliable way of determining the costs and benefits of a reliationship.

21 Critique of Social Exchange Theory Elaine Walster criticised Kelly & Thibauts Social Exchange Theory for being too simplistic. There is no reliable way of determining the costs and benefits of a reliationship. Walster claims that it is the perception of equality rather than actual equality which determines whether people continue a relationship. This is known as equity theory.

22 (c) L. Hayes 2008 Adapted from Cardwell, Clark and Meldrum, 2006 22 Equity theory Argues that people aim for a fair relationship and feel upset if they see it as unfair (Messick and Cooke, 1993) Thus, it is inequality in relationships which could create dissatisfaction rather than the costs.

23 (c) L. Hayes 2008 Adapted from Cardwell, Clark and Meldrum, 2006 23 Equity theory Thus, people who give a lot and get a little AND those who get a lot and give a little would see the relationship as unequal and unfair and would have the same consequence for both partners.

24 (c) L. Hayes 2008 Adapted from Cardwell, Clark and Meldrum, 2006 24 Equity theory Equity means balance and fairness rather than equality. The term can also be defined by each member of the relationship and outsiders (and will therefore be different for different people).

25 Balance is achieved more through perceived fairness, as in the matching hypothesis. Inequity results in striving to restore balance or in dissolution. This theory is similar to Social exchange but attempts to quantify what makes a relationship fair. EVIDENCE Hatfield et al (1972) interviewed over 500 students about equity in their relationships. Three months later the inequitable relationships were more likely to have ended.

26 Equity Theory How does Equity Theory explain infidelity?

27 EVALUATION Equity may be maintained by matching any attractive characteristics, such as looks, money or status. (Links to matching hypothesis) Cultural Differences – equity is not a norm for all cultures. These two theories are called economic theories because they explain relationships in terms of rewards & costs.

28 Why does an Equity type relationship breakdown? People try to maximise their rewards and minimize negative experiences within a relationship. The distribution of rewards is negotiated to ensure fairness. This may be achieved through trade-offs or compensations (i.e. a favour or privilege for one person is paid back by an equivalent favour or privilege.)

29 Why does an Equity type relationship breakdown? Unfair (inequitable) relationships produce dissatisfaction. As long as the loser feels there is a chance of restoring the balance (equity) they are motivated to save the relationship. This idea of restoring the balance has also been noticed by the advertising industry!

30 Evaluating Social Exchange & Equity Theory Social Exchange theory tends to see relationships as SNAPSHOTS at one point in time – whereas they are DYNAMIC constantly changing. This theory see people as CALCULATING (Selfish – Whats in it for me? Am I giving more than I am getting?) The theory doesnt take into account the social context of the relationship E.g. Arranged marriages, religion, parenting, health traditions etc.

31 Evaluating Social Exchange & Equity Theory Research evidence is inconsistent (Clark and Mills, 1979 identified two types of couples: THE COMMUNAL COUPLE – giving is motivated by concern and positive regard for the other ~ they give to meet each others needs – not expecting anything in return ~ shared responsibility for relationship. THE EXCHANGE COUPLE – As in social exchange – certain amount of score keeping is evident. Expect a return on their investment ~ cost benefit analysis of relationship ~ give but expect same in return. There is also evidence that equity is not the same for everyone (Hatfield) Equity may be more important for females than males. (Gender Issue) Murstein et al (1977) Equity may only be a problem in troubled relationships. (Health of relationship issue)

32 Now read page 282 of the Course Companion and Gross chapter on Interpersonal Relationships and make notes on: Social Exchange Theory Equity Theory

33 Why do we study relationships?

34 Can you predict the breakdown of a relationship?

35 Rank these factors in order of the most to the least likely causes of relationship breakdown.

36 Now read about Ducks meta- analysis in the blue box on page 284 of the Course Companion. Discuss questions 1 and 2 with the person sitting next to you.


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