Advertisement

Social Exchange Perspectives on the Dissolution of Close Relationships

  • Susan Sprecher

Abstract

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.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Adams, J. S. (1965). Inequity in social exchange. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 267–299). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  2. Allison, P. D. (1984). Event history analysis: Regression for longitudinal event data. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  3. Baxter, L. A. (1984). Trajectories of relationship disengagement. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 1, 29–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baxter, L. A. (1986). Gender differences in the heterosexual relationship rules embedded in breakup accounts. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 3, 289–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berg, J. H. (1984). The development of friendship between roommates. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 346–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Berg, J. H., & McQuinn, R. D. (1986). Attraction and exchange in continuing and noncontinuing dating relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 942–952.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Berscheid, E., Snyder, M., & Omoto, A. M. (1989). The relationship closeness inventory: Assessing the closeness of interpersonal relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 792–807.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Buehler, C. (1989). Influential factors and equity issues in divorce settlements. Family Relations, 38, 76–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Buunk, B. (1987). Conditions that promote breakups as a consequence of extradyadic involvements. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 5, 271–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Buunk, B. P., & VanYperen, N. W. (in press). Referential comparisons, relational comparisons, and exchange orientation: Their relation to marital satisfaction. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.Google Scholar
  11. Byrne, D., & Clore, G. L. (1970). A reinforcement model of evaluative responses. Personality: An International Journal, 1, 103–128.Google Scholar
  12. Cate, R. M., Lloyd, S. A., & Henton, J. M. (1985). The effect of equity, equality, and reward level on the stability of students’ premarital relationships. The Journal of Social Psychology, 6, 715–721.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cate, R. M., Lloyd, S. A., Henton, J. M., & Larson, J. H. (1982). Fairness and reward level as predictors of relationship satisfaction. Social Psychology Quarterly, 45, 177–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cate, R. M., Lloyd, S. A., & Long, E. (1988). The role of rewards and fairness in developing premarital relationships. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 50, 443–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cody, M. J. (1982). A typology of disengagement strategies and an examination of the role intimacy, reactions to inequity and relational problems play in strategy selection. Communication Monographs, 49, 148–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Crosby, F. (1976). A model of egotistical relative deprivation. Psychological Reports, 83, 85–113.Google Scholar
  17. Crosby, F., & Gonzalez-Intal, A. M. (1984). Relative deprivation and equity theories. In R. Folger (Ed.), The sense of injustice (pp. 141–166). New York: Plenum.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cupach, W. R., & Metts, S. (1986). Accounts of relational dissolution: A comparison of marital and non-marital relationships. Communication Monographs, 55, 311–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Davidson, B. (1984). A test of equity theory for marital adjustment. Social Psychology Quarterly, 47, 36–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Deutsch, M. (1975). Equity, equality and need: What determines which value will be used as the basis of distributive justice? Journal of Social Issues, 31, 137–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Duck, S. (1982). A topography of relationship disengagement and dissolution. In S. W. Duck (Ed.), Personal relationships 4: Dissolving personal relationships (pp. 1–30). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  22. Duffy, S. M., & Rusbult, C. E. (1986). Satisfaction and commitment in homosexual and heterosexual relationships. Journal of Homosexuality, 12, 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Edwards, J. N., Johnson, D. R., & Booth, A. (1987). Coming apart: A prognostic instrument of marital breakup. Family Relations, 36, 168–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Felmlee, D., Sprecher, S., & Bassin, E. (1990). The dissolution of intimate relationships: A hazard model. Social Psychology Quarterly, 53, 13–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hendrick, S. S., Hendrick, C., & Adler, N. L. (1988). Romantic relationships: Love, satisfaction, and staying together. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 980–988.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hill, C. T., Rubin, Z., & Peplau, L. A. (1976). Breakups before marriage: The end of 103 affairs. Journal of Social Issues, 32, 147–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Homans, G. C. (1961). Social behavior. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.Google Scholar
  28. Homans, G. C. (1974). Social behavior: Its elementary forms. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  29. Johnson, D. J., & Rusbult, C. E. (1989). Resisting temptation: Devaluation of alternative partners as a means of maintaining commitment in close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 967–980.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kelley, H. H., & Thibaut, J. E. (1978). Interpersonal relations: A theory of interdependence. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  31. Kitson, G. C, & Sussman, M. B. (1982). Marital complaints, demographic characteristics, and symptoms of mental distress in divorce. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 44, 87–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Leslie, L. A., Huston, T. L., & Johnson, M. P. (1986). Parental reactions to dating relationships: Do they make a difference? Journal of Marriage and the Family, 48, 57–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Levinger, G. (1965). Marital cohesiveness and dissolution: An integrative review. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 27, 19–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Levinger, G. (1976). A social psychological perspective on marital dissolution. Journal of Social Issues, 32, 21–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Levinger, G. (1979). A social psychological perspective on marital dissolution. In G. Levinger & O. C. Moles (Eds.), Divorce and separation (pp. 37–60). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  36. Lewis, R. A., & Spanier, G. B. (1979). Theorizing about the quality and stability of marriage. In W. R. Burr, R. Hill, F. I. Nye, & I. L. Reiss (Eds.), Contemporary theories about the family (Vol. 1, pp. 268–294). New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  37. Lloyd, S. A., Cate, R. M., & Henton, J. M. (1984). Predicting premarital relationship stability: A methodological refinement. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 46, 71–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lott, A. J., & Lott, B. E. (1974). The role of reward in the formation of positive interpersonal attitudes. In T. Huston (Ed.), Foundations of interpersonal attraction (pp. 171–189). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  39. Lujansky, H., & Mikula, G. (1983). Can equity theory explain the quality and the stability of romantic relationships? Journal of Social Psychology, 22, 101–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lund, M. (1985). The development of investment and commitment scales for predicting continuity of personal relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 2, 3–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Martin, M. W. (1985). Satisfaction with intimate exchange: Gender-role differences and the impact of equity, and rewards. Sex Roles, 13, 597–605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Metts, S., Cupach, W. R., & Bejlovec, R. A. (1989). I love you too much to ever start liking you: Redefining romantic relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 3, 259–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Michaels, J. W., Acock, A.C., & Edwards, J. N. (1986). Social exchange and equity determinants of relationship commitment. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 3, 161–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Michaels, J. W., Edwards, J. N., & Acock, A. C. (1984). Satisfaction in intimate relationships as a function of inequality, inequity, and outcomes. Social Psychology Quarterly, 47, 347–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Milardo, R. M., Johnson, M. P., & Huston, T. L. (1983). Developing close relationships: Changing patterns of interaction between pair members and social networks. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 964–976.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Murstein, B. I., Cerreto, M., & MacDonald, M. G. (1977). A theory and investigation of the effect of exchange-orientation on marriage and friendship. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 39, 543–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rusbult, C. E. (1980). Commitment and satisfaction in romantic associations: A test of the investment model. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 16, 172–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rusbult, C. E. (1983). A longitudinal test of the investment model: The development (and deterioration) of satisfaction and commitment in heterosexual involvements. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 101–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rusbult, C. E., Johnson, D. J., & Morrow, G. D. (1986). Predicting satisfaction and commitment in adult romantic involvements: An assessment of the generalizability of the investment model. Social Psychology Quarterly, 49, 81–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sabatelli, R. M., & Cecil-Pigo, E. F. (1985). Relational interdependence and commitment in marriage. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 47, 931–937.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sampson, E. (1975). On justice as equality. Journal of Social Issues, 31, 45–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Simpson, J. A. (1987). The dissolution of romantic relationships: Factors involved in relationship stability and emotional distress. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 683–692.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Snell, W. E., Jr., & Belk, S. S. (1985). On assessing “equity” in intimate relationships. Representative research in social psychology, 15, 16–24.Google Scholar
  54. South, S. J., & Spitze, G. (1986). Determinants of divorce over the marital life course. American Sociological Review, 51, 583–590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sprecher (Fisher), S. (1980). Men, women, and intimate relationships: A study of dating couples. Unpublished master’s thesis, University of Wisconsin-Madison.Google Scholar
  56. Sprecher, S. (1986). The relationship between inequity and emotions in close relationships. Social Psychology Quarterly, 49, 309–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Sprecher, S. (1988). Investment model, equity, and social support determinants of relationship commitment. Social Psychology Quarterly, 51, 318–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Steil, J. M., & Turetsky, B. A. (1987). Is equal better? In S. Oskamp (Ed.), Family processes and problems: Social psychological aspects (pp. 73–97). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  59. Thibaut, J. W., & Kelley, H. H. (1959). The social psychology of groups. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  60. Udry, J. R. (1981). Marital alternatives and marital disruption. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 43, 889–897.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. VanYperen, N. W., & Buunk, B. P. (1990). A longitudinal study of equity and satisfaction in intimate relationships. European Journal of Social Psychology, 20, 281–309.Google Scholar
  62. Walster (Hatfield), E., Walster, G. W., & Berscheid, E. (1978). Equity: Theory and research. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan Sprecher

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations