Social Exchange Theory
Definition and Core Assumptions
Social exchange theory views social interaction as based on the mutual flow of resources or behaviors of value over time. The key assumptions of exchange theory (Molm and Cook 1995) include the following: (a) behavior is motivated by the desire to increase gain and to avoid loss; (b) exchange relations develop in structures of mutual dependence (both parties have some reason to engage in exchange to obtain resources of value); (c) actors engage in recurrent, mutually contingent exchanges with specific partners over time (i.e., they are not engaged in simple one-shot transactions); and (d) valued outcomes obey the economic law of diminishing marginal utility (or the psychological principle of satiation). Based on these core assumptions, various predictions are made about the behavior of actors engaged in exchange and the effects of different factors on the outcomes of exchange.
The theory of social...
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