Social Exchange Theory

Topics: Sociology, Interpersonal relationship, Social exchange theory Pages: 4 (1499 words) Published: May 5, 2012
The Social Exchange Theory was created by researchers John W. Thibaut and Harold H. Kelley, was an attempt to everyday interpersonal relationships. This theory, with backgrounds in sociology and economics, appeals to so many because of it simple answers to human interaction and intentions. The social exchange theory is very rational and considers humans to be rational in every thought they make. It examines human behavior through costs and benefits of being in a particular relationship. The theory states humans try to maximize their gain, but trying to do least possible in return or work. Summary

The Social Exchange Theory is about humans thinking rationally about the relationships they are in or try to obtain with other people. The theory has to first generalize about human nature. Social exchange theory first generalizes that all humans are selfish and are out for themselves.  It also assumes that all humans enter relationships for their own benefits and just to gain something out of that relationship.  One of the last generalized ideas of the theory is that people weigh benefits versus cost of a relationship.  These three ideas create the stepping stone to understanding the social exchange theory.  Social exchange theory equation is the ratio of outcome to cost in a relationship.  The equation in the theory allows people to predict if a person will be satisfied, dissatisfied, terminate, or stay in the relationship. Strengths of Social Exchange Theory

One strength of the Social Exchange Theory is that it depicts human nature perfectly.  When it comes to human nature humans think about themselves before anyone else. Human nature objective is to gain or to win at the expense of others. Thibaut and Kelley (1959) says, “When the interactions of a number of persons are observed, it usually becomes quite apparent that interaction is a highly selective matter, both with respect to who interacts with whom and with respect to what any pair of persons interact...

References: Casserly, M. (2010, November 30). Proactiv 's Active Ingredient: Celebrity. Retrieved April 16, 2012, from
Levine, T. R., Sang-Yeon, K., & Ferrara, M. (2010). Social Exchange, Uncertainty, and Communication Content as Factors Impacting the Relational Outcomes of  Betrayal. Human Communication, 13(4), 303-318.
Thibaut, J., & Kelley, H. (1959). The social psychology of groups. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Zafriovsk, M. (n.d.). Some Amendments to Social Exchange Theory: A Sociological Perspective . Theory and Science. Retrieved April 16, 2012, from http://
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