Social Exchange Perspectives on the Dissolution of Close Relationships

  • Susan Sprecher


One important element of any close relationship is the exchange of resources. Relationship partners exchange a variety of resources, including love, sex, money, services, gifts, information, and intrinsic characteristics (e.g., physical attractiveness). The exchange in a relationship can be described as rewarding, more desirable than alternatives, and fair, or as the opposite of these. The purpose of this chapter is to review the theory and research indicating the role of social exchange in the continuation or dissolution of close relationships (e.g., romantic relationships). In the first section I review social exchange theories and models that have been applied to the study of close relationships. In the second section I describe the empirical studies that have examined how social exchange variables affect the continuation or dissolution of close relationships. In the third section, I consider how social exchange variables can also affect the process of breaking up and coping after. In the final section, I present a framework for future research in this area.


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© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1992

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  • Susan Sprecher

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