Much Kelley, 1959; have contributed to SET. Richard M.

Much of our social life involves interactions between people that we are connected with or strangers to. With these everyday interactions between people, they can be either positive or negative. Most look for relationships that benefit them without expending much energy. If they feel that they are receiving less in the relationship than they are giving, then it is more than likely they would leave that relationship. According to the Social Exchange Theory (SET), with these interactions, they are focused rather on positive outcomes than negative. The Social Exchange Theory is a, “Theory that explains the development and longevity of relationships as a result of individuals’ ability to maximize the rewards and minimize the costs of their relationships,” (Alberts, Nakayama & Martin, 2016, p. 378).        The Social Exchange Theory (SET) was created by George Homans titled as “Social Behavior as Exchange,” in 1968. Since then other theorists like Blau (Sociologist), 1964; Thibaut & Kelley, 1959; have contributed to SET. Richard M. Emerson in Social Exchange Theory (1968), explained the differences between each of their works. These three works were emphasized in different ways. Blau gave more emphasis to technical economic analysis, Homans focused upon the psychology of instrumental behavior, and Thibaut & Kelley employed different strategies of theory construction by studying underlying behavior in small groups such as exerting control, forming relationships, and norms and rules (1959). The Social Theory includes the idea of “social exchanges,” which are interactive exchanges between individuals. Usually, these exchanges are the reactions and decisions made in relationships. According to Chibucos, Leite, and Weis in Readings in Family Theory (2009), “First, social exchange theory operates on the assumption that individuals are generally rational and engage in calculations of costs and benefits in social exchanges. Second, social exchange theory builds on the assumption that those engaged in interactions are or benefits to be gained from those situations, especially in terms of meeting basic individual needs. Third, exchange processes that produce pay-offs or rewards for individuals lead to patterning of social interactions.” These comments from Readings in Family Theory, explain that social exchange theory deals with issues of decision making, that these exchanged are to perform basic needs, and lastly, these individuals are constrained in how they meet these needs. A part, there are two sections of Social Exchange Theory that includes self-interest and interdependence. In SET, self-interest are actions that educe the most personal benefit. In contrast, interdependence shows how the rewards and costs collaborates with expectations from the party members. When two individuals that are on the same platform and of value to each other meet and form a relationship, these are the two most likely interactions to occur. When an individual is looking out for their own self-interest, they are looking out for their own needs whether it be emotional, psychological, physical, etc. Often their needs get placed above the other individual’s, and the one looking for their own self-interest may become greedy and competitive. Although self-interest is seen as negative, this is not always the case. In many instances, self-interest results in both parties achieving their own goals. Interdependence, on the other hand, is the combination of the two using both their efforts to gain something. Interdependence has higher implications in that there is an exchange with rewards and costs between people, (Cropanzano & Mitchell, 2005). Rewards are defined as objects that have a positive value and are sought out by individuals. Costs are defined as objects that have a negative value and are avoided by individuals. Rewards, in regard to relationships are like support, friendship, and acceptance, while costs are things like energy spent, time, and money. Essentially this theory states that every individual is trying to maximize their wins or their worth and end up with something that is more positive than negative. Social Exchange Theory is applied in any relationship, at any time, and at any given situation that calls for an interaction with someone. The events that most likely calls for SET includes a romantic relationship, friendships, or in the workplace. In Bringing Emotions into Social Exchange Theory, Lawler and Thye explain how through each relationship we gain emotional benefits as well, “Friendship relations are often propelled by strong affection or feelings of joy; corporate mergers may result from fear or anger; economic partnerships may thrive because they produce positive feelings such as confidence or pleasure,” (Lawler & Thye, 1999). This is important in that this is the exchange that we are getting from the other group. Each of these relationships center themselves around norms and elements of SET. These elements include rewards and values of a reward, social rewards, costs, and equity. In Social Exchange Theory by Redmond (2015), he explained Homans’ theory of “value of a reward.” This “value of a reward,” explains and emphasized the idea that any given reward might have different value to different people. For example, a toy doll would have more value to a little girl than an adult. The idea of rewards, or anything we put value on, allows for the differences and implication that what is valuable to one person is not valuable to another (Redmond, 2015). Additionally, the value of these rewards change over time. The second element of SET is social rewards. When rewards are met by interacting with other people then they are called social rewards. The example that Redmond (2015) gave is, “being loved, respected, socially accepted, attractive to others, or having opinions and judgments approved by others, all depend upon other people.” These rewards include pleasure, satisfaction, gratification, and fulfillment of needs (Emerson, 1968 (Thibaut & Kelley, 1959)). As found by Blau (1964) in Redmond’s journal (2015), there is no way to barter over social rewards. Instead, we weigh the value against the costs of the relationship. This is seen through the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards of the two people at hand. The third element of SET is costs. In the context of Social Exchange Theory, costs are value that is given away such as continuing doing favors for a friend, carrying on a conversation that takes (costs) your time and energy which all of these may not lead you to a reward. Most of the time these costs can be better spent elsewhere, (time and energy on something more productive). In addition, Redmond (2015) explains “Just as with rewards varying in their value, so do costs.” This is the idea that the value of things like time depends on the demand of it. Fourthly, the last element of SET is equity. When in a relationship, we look for one that can give us fair or equitable opportunities as far as rewards, feelings, emotions, time, etc. In Social Exchange Theory by Redmond (2015), he says, “We are concerned with our reward being proportionate to our degree of cost: the more cost we incur, the more we expect the reward to be.” This means that we are unhappy when circumstances don’t seem fair between us and another person. In relationships, we look for fairness where the ratio of rewards and costs are the same for both. It is important to keep balance so that negative feelings won’t surface like resentment and hate, (Lawler & Thye, 1999).


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