Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Behavior Exchange in Couple and Family Therapy

  • Jennifer DuchschereEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_74

Name of the Strategy or Intervention

Behavior exchange in couple and family therapy


BE; Contingency contract; Social exchange


Behavior Exchange (BE) is a therapeutic tool which seeks to increase the ratio of positive to negative behaviors that occur within a dyad (Gurman and Jacobson 2002; Jacobson and Christensen 1996; Jacobson and Margolin 1979). A BE model of relationships assumes that each partner holds some amount of control or influence over the other’s behaviors, and thus the dyad is engaged in a continuous cycle of interacting behaviors and responses (Jacobson and Margolin 1979). Partners often respond to positive behaviors with positive behaviors, and respond to negative behaviors with negative behaviors (Gottman et al. 1976).

Theoretical Framework

BE is derived from behaviorism and makes the assumption that small shifts in behavior will influence the overall dyadic dynamic. It is thus often incorporated into behavior-based therapies, such as traditional...

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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ArizonaTucsonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kelley Quirk
    • 1
  • Adam Fisher
    • 2
  1. 1.Human Development and Family StudiesColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA