Describe and evaluate social exchange theory of romantic relationships

  • Created by: jesssweir
  • Created on: 12-04-17 11:54


  • Social exchange theory is an economic explaination of relationship maintenance that is based on maxmising rewards and minimising costs 
  • Social exchange theory believes a reltionship will continue and be maintained if both partners feel they are getting more out a relationship than they are putting in, and so are making a profit
  • In a romantic relationship, the costs of the relationship such as giving up opportunities or financial costs should be less than the rewards of the relationship such as the company and sex in order to make a profit. 
  • An individual can assess the rewards of a relationship by making comparisons. For example, the comparison level is when rewards are compared against costs in order to judge the profit of the relationship
  • An individual may instead assess profits from the comparison level for alternative relationships where current rewards and costs are comapred against percieved rewards and costs in potential alternative relationship
  • This theory believes that a current relationship is more likely to continue if the profit is greater than that of an alternative relationship. Therefore the commitment within a relationship is dependent on the profitability