Social Exchange Theory Paper

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Introduction: Within interpersonal communications there are theories that explain the process in which we form relationships. This essay will explore social exchange theory, which describes the process of interpersonal exchange and the cost benefit analyze that each relationship undergoes. This theory was developed in the early 60s by the sociologists George Homans, Peter Bleu and social psychologists John Thibaut and Harold Kelley. They developed an exchange structure, which according to the International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family is centered on “behaviorism and elementary economics where human behaviour is a envisaged as a function of its payoff” (2003). Throughout this essay I will examine the aspects of social exchange theory, the pros and cons within the theory and finally how this theory can be connected to real life interpersonal interactions. Social Exchange Theory Summary: As human beings we attempt to gain rewards and avoid punishment so when approaching a relationship we often assess what the individual has to offer us (Tucker; 2015). These benefits are viewed differently by each individual and depend largely on ones desired outcome of the relationship; a positive and productive relationship is…show more content…
This theory allows us to understand relationships in a personal advantage standpoint, but this standpoint is different for everyone and evolves as our lives do. This theory forces us to detach emotions and find a distinct purpose of each relationship, taking away from the uniqueness of relationships. The examples from F.R.I.E.N.D.S are both dramatized for the sake of entertainment but they both illustrate how humans cannot avoid being selfish even if they have good intentions. This theory’s principles are rooted in our individualist society that values the individual’s needs over the groups, which devalues these important interpersonal

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