Social Exchange Theory

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Social Exchange theory The social exchange theory, also known as communication theory of social exchange, proposes that people make decisions in social situations depending on the alleged costs and benefits of a relationship. This assumption stresses that people evaluate each of their social relationships to determine how they will benefit from a relationship and what a relationship may cost them (i.e. time, money, energy, stress, etc.). It also suggests that someone will typically leave a relationship if he or she perceives that the effort or cost of it outweighs any perceived advantages. This basic principal of social psychology is imbedded in economics, rational choice theory, and structuralism. Generally people like to be guaranteed that whatever they invest in will pay off for them later equaling or bettering the effort, money, time and energy they’ve spend putting into someone or something. The theory uses economic terms such as benefit, gain, cost, and payment as an analogy to describe social situations. According to this belief, people consciously and unconsciously evaluate every social possibility in terms of what they will have to put into it, and relate this to the benefits they think they may get out of it. The greater the potential benefit, the greater the chances are a person would socially invest time and energy into an individual in order to form a strong and sound relationship. People make these decisions according to the theory based on their individual satisfaction level within the relationship. Individuals typically have a high level of satisfactory when they’ve recognized that they are receiving more than they are giving, however, on the other hand, if an individual feels that they are giving more than they are receiving, they may decide that the connection is not fulfilling their needs and will begin to search elsewhere to find fulfillment.

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