The Social Exchange Theory in Interpersonal Relationships

Essay by parsons635University, Bachelor'sA+, November 2008

download word file, 6 pages 4.3

Downloaded 111 times

Interpersonal communication is a form of communication that takes place between two people who have an established relationship. There are many different levels of interpersonal communication and theories of interpersonal communication. One of the theories that is used to explain changes in social behavior is the social exchange theory. The social exchange theory proposes that social behavior is the result of an exchange process between two people. The basic concept of the exchange theory is that it emphasizes the cost between the interactions of people and their social environment. Exchange theory attempts to explain human behavior under the content of a balanced-equal ratio within the distribution of giving and receiving. "At the heart of exchange is the notion of profits. Profits can consist of benefits (or rewards) with less costs (or punishments). Rewards may be material (economic) or symbolic (such as attention, advice, or status). They are generally things defined as something that either has value or bring satisfaction and gratification to the individual."

(Canda, Chatterjee, & Robbins, 1998, p. 337). Some rewards can be granted based on either a person's acquirements or attributes. For example, a college student can achieve good grades due to their ability to possess excellent study habits and writing skills (acquirements), or the student can possibly receive good grades based primarily on their qualities such as race, gender, or economical status (attributes.). People receiving merits depending on their attributes may have the tendency to show an uneven or non-reciprocal exchange.

An exchange may include exchange of services, love, information, money and symbols of approval. The purpose of this exchange is to maximize benefits of one person and minimize costs of one person. People that give to others try to get from them, and people that get from others are under pressure to give to...