Date of Award
Hoyt Walbridge Ph.D.
In all forms of relationships between people, the concept of ‘give and take’ is central. You spend time with a friend because you offer each other mutual support and have fun with them. You pay to take your significant other out on a date or buy them a nice gift because their affection and presence in your life makes you feel good. When these balances get shifted so one person is consistently taking more and the other is giving more, it tends to turn friendships, romantic relationships and other types of social bonds sour quickly. This is all common knowledge. Still, most people struggle socially in some way, be that feeling overworked by their relationships, disconnected from others, too dependent on outside validation…
This is the basis for Social Exchange Theory, or SET. Originally proposed by George Homans, a sociologist known for his work as pioneer in the field of behavioral sociology, SET breaks social interaction down to its bare bones, where it is a system of cost-benefit analysis applicable to all forms of interpersonal behavior. This simplified way of viewing interaction between people has become widely used in the fields of sociology, psychology, and economics, where it has received acclaim and criticism for its simplicity.
Deauseault, Miriam, "Social Exchange Theory: What is it, and how can it be applied to everyday situations?" (2018). Thinking Matters Symposium. 139.