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SOCIAL EXCHANGE THEORY

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  1. SOCIAL EXCHANGE THEORY John Thibaut & Harold Kelley

  2. TRIBUTARIES • John von Neumann- games and economic/social behavior: parallel or opposite interest, perfect or imperfect information, rational decision or chance influence. ‘Strategy of anticipation’, or need to take the other actor/s into account. Win lose situations, or the zero-sum game.

  3. Cont. • John Nash- games are not always zero-sum; interactions include the possibility of mixed motive games. • The minimax principle- people seek to maximize benefits and minimize costs.

  4. Interdependence Theory of Thibaut and Kelley

  5. Premises and Assumptions • Relational outcomes are linked with the actions of others. • Members of the dyad can accurately predict outcomes and will choose the best. • Not necessarily win/lose; interdependence implies that we negotiate our moves based on anticipation of the actions of others.

  6. PRISONER’S DILEMMA • Potential for gain at the others expense. • Also potential for win/win or lose/lose outcome. • Both parties want optimum outcome.

  7. RESULTS • Outcome- rewards minus costs represented by a single number. • Comparison Level (CL)- satisfaction depends on expectation; the threshold above which an outcome seems attractive. • Comparison level of alternatives (CLalt)- the worst outcome one will accept and stay in the relationship.

  8. Some predictions…. • Outcome>CLalt>CL = satisfying, stable, nondependent. • CL>CLalt>Outcome = not satisfying, break relationship, continue unhappy. • CL>Outcome>CLalt = highly unsatisfying, can’t break away, dependent and unhappy…the Prisoner’s Dilemma.

  9. Dependence and Control • Outcomes > CLalt = high dependence. • Outcomes < CLalt = low dependence. • T and K identify three types of control: reflexive, fate and behavior. • These forms are juggled in interdependent relationships. • The relationship is not evaluated in an evaluative sense.

  10. Collective and Ind Outcomes • Why do people often act in ways that appear contrary to their own interests, even with knowledge of outcome values? • T and K see this as evidence of collective, social behavior.

  11. Anxiety- reframing the conflict to relieve tension; mentally altering the numbers by redefining the situation. • Normative element- turning to collective principle for action when a situation is confusing. • Temporal element- focus on future rewards.