From Is to Ought and the Kitchen Sink: On the Justice of Distributions in Close Relationships

  • Barbara Reichle
Part of the Critical Issues in Social Justice book series (CISJ)


As many theories in psychology, social exchange theory and equity theory (Adams, 1965; Blau, 1964; Homans, 1961; Thibaut, & Kelley, 1959) have started out with the aim to cover a rather broad area of human behavior. “Inequity in social exchange” (Adams, 1965) and “Exchange and power in social life” (Blau, 1964) are but a few examples for the rather all-encompassing nature of the original theories. In retrospect, the development of these theories seems to follow the same lines as described by Furnham (1990) for single trait personality theories. Today, three decades later, there is a wide variety of differentiations of the original theories, as is represented by the proposition of a multi-principle approach by several scholars which dates back to the late 70s (e.g. Deutsch, 1975, 1985; Lerner, 1981; Leventhal, 1980; Sampson, 1975). The original concepts have since gone through an advanced stage of “the development and refinement of more than one, often sphere-specific and multi-dimensional measures of the same concept” (which is stage six of the eight stages described by Furnham, 1990, p. 923). This is represented by studies like those conducted by Schwinger (1980), Schmitt and Montada (1982), Reis (1984), and Törnblom, Jonsson and Foa (1985). The results indicate that humans are able to use various principles in social justice judgments, and that judgments vary with personal factors like culture, values, class, gender, cognitive development, and even personality, as well as with situational factors like contexts, relationships, and objects to be distributed (overviews are given by Törnblom, 1992; Schmitt, 1994). The selection of the topic in this paper, the justice of role distributions among women and men who are spouses and parents, is yet another manifestation of the trend described.


Child Care Procedural Justice Distributive Justice Relationship Satisfaction Marital Satisfaction 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Reichle
    • 1
  1. 1.Fb I — PsychologieUniversitaet TrierTrierGermany

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