Social Exchange Theory Essays

1531 Words Mar 4th, 2002 7 Pages
Social Exchange Theory 2

Application of:
The Social Exchange Theory
In everyday interactions people are always looking to have a positive experience among those with whom they interact. According to the Social Exchange theory, with each interaction an individual has with another, that individual attempts to maximize the positive outcomes and minimize the negative. The purpose of this paper is to apply the Social Exchange theory to an authentic real life situation to best illustrate the theory and the key concepts that it holds. In applying the social exchange theory from demonstration, to application, to then explanation, a better understanding in terms of the value of the theory will be shown, as well as the function that it
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According to West and Turner this is critical to the Social Exchange Theory (182). The theory rests on the notion that within the limits of the information that is available to them, people will calculate the costs and rewards of a given situation and guide their behaviors accordingly West & Turner 182). Meaning that people are always calculating the rewards and costs for each situation they are put into, and those rewards or costs determine the outcome of their decision-making.
Along with assumptions for the Social Exchange there is another factor that plays a key role. Relating to the concept of cost and rewards is the comparison level or CL. "The comparison level is a standard representing what people feel they should receive in the way of rewards and costs from a particular relationship" (West & Turner 184). Therefore the individual weighs the pros and cons of the relationship. If the cons are an

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acceptable amount, then the relationship should very well stay the same. However, if the costs far outweigh the rewards, then there is what is called a comparison level for alternatives (CLalt). As stated by West and Turner, "this refers to the lowest level of relational rewards a person is willing to accept given available rewards from alternative relationships of being alone" (185). Signifying that the CLalt measures how people evaluate a relationship compared to the realistic alternatives