Social exchange theory (A guide)

The social exchange theory is a sociological and psychological hypothesis that examines the social behavior in the interaction of two parties that utilize a cost-benefit analysis to decide risks and benefits.

Social exchange hypothesis recommends that social conduct is the consequence of an exchange procedure.

The reason for this exchange is to weigh benefits and costs.

As per this hypothesis, created by George Homans, individuals gauge the potential advantages and dangers of social connections.

On the point when the dangers exceed the prizes, individuals surrender that relationship. 

What is the history of social exchange theory? 

Social Exchange Theory has solid roots in the fields of financial matters, humanism and brain science.

From a chronicled point of view, early therapists concentrated on the standards of support, functionalism, and utilitarianism.

Truth be told, the celebrated French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss consolidated the significant ethnographic standards of blessing exchange and family relationship frameworks into the hypothesis of social exchange. 

Curiously enough, the hypothesis of social exchange is certifiably not a bound together and normalized hypothesis.

Rather, there are various hypotheses that add to the general hypothetical system.

Be that as it may, all perspectives concede to fundamental suspicions about people.

For instance, individuals by and large look for remunerations, maintain a strategic distance from disciplines and are discerning creatures.

What is Social Exchange Theory? 

Social Exchange Theory is a significant social brain science idea that concerns social changes as a procedure of intuitive exchanges between various individuals.

This hypothesis is regularly utilized inside the business world to clarify and examine business exchanges. 

How It Works 

The hypothesis’ center claims set up an essential establishment inside the social exchange hypothesis — one size doesn’t fit all.

An individual’s desires, as set by correlation levels, permit the hypothesis to be seen on a sliding scale, one that alters on an individual premise.

On the off chance that a person’s very own relationship tests are determined to a specific level, the individual will, in general, utilize this level as a benchmark for future connections. 

For instance, if an individual enters another relationship after a progression of poor fellowships or sad sentimental connections, that individual’s desires toward the beginning of another relationship will be lower than those of an individual who has a tight gathering of companions.

Then again, if an individual’s ex furnished him with a huge amount of blessings and expressions of love, he may go into his next relationship anticipating comparative practices. 

These degrees of desire can regularly work related to another central idea of the hypothesis’ usefulness: costs versus benefits.

This is maybe the hypothesis’ most referred to the item, as it sets up a “give and take” metric that can be broken down to decide how much exertion one gathering might be placing into the relationship. 

The “costs” in this hypothesis segment are things that an individual may see as a negative in a relationship.

A companion who continually obtains cash or an accomplice who reliably doesn’t do his normal tasks in the house may pile on a great deal of cost.

“Advantages,” as they relate to this hypothesis, are qualities that an individual may see as positive characteristics.

The companion who’s continually ready to listen carefully in a tough situation or continually expands a greeting for a Sunday evening lager may offer a lot of advantages. 

As per the hypothesis, a beneficial relationship will be as distant from the cost class as could reasonably be expected.

Regardless of whether there are a couple of costs associated with the relationship — and human conduct directs there most likely will be — if enough positive characteristics exceed the negative qualities, at that point the costs hold no worth. 

On the off chance that the expenses far exceed the advantages, it might be a marker that it’s a great opportunity to precede onward; nonetheless, the hypothesis’ part of assessing options keeps this choice from being programmed.

Elective assessment includes breaking down potential substitutions for a current relationship, a procedure that gauges expenses and advantages against an individual’s correlation levels.

This investigation may drive an individual to the end that the relationship the person is right now in is despite everything better than all else that is out there, a choice that may likewise make an individual rethink the cost versus advantage estimation of a current relationship. 

Desires and Comparison Levels 

Money saving advantages examination assumes a significant job in the social exchange process, yet so do expectations.

As individuals gauge the advantages of a relationship against the expenses of the relationship, they do as such by building up an examination level that is regularly affected by social desires and past encounters.

In the event that you have consistently had poor kinships, your examination levels at the start of a relationship will be a lot lower than an individual who has consistently had an affectionate circle of supportive and caring companions. 

For instance, if your past sentimental partner gave you shows of love, your correlation level for your next relationship will be very high with regards to levels of love.

On the off chance that your next sentimental accomplice will in general be increasingly held and less passionate, that individual probably won’t match your desires. 

Assessing the Alternatives 

Another part of the social exchange process includes taking a gander at the potential other options.

Subsequent to breaking down the expenses and benefits and differentiating these against your examination levels, you may begin to take a gander at the potential other options.

The relationship probably won’t match your examination levels, yet as you study the potential other options, you may establish that the relationship is still better than all else that is accessible.

Therefore, you may return and re-evaluate the relationship regarding what might be presently a fairly lower examination level. 

The Honeymoon Phase 

The length of a companionship or romance can likewise assume a job in the social exchange process.

During the early weeks or months of a relationship, regularly alluded to as the “special first night stage,” individuals are bound to disregard the social exchange balance.

Things that would ordinarily be seen as significant expense are excused, disregarded, or limited while the potential advantages are frequently overstated. 

So what happens when this special first night time span at last reaches a conclusion?

Much of the time, there will be a continuous assessment of the exchange balance. Drawbacks will turn out to be progressively clear and advantages will begin to be seen all the more all things considered.

This recalibration of the exchange equalization may likewise prompt the end of the relationship if the parity is tipped excessively far toward the negative side. 

What is the Fundamental Concept of the Theory? 

 The hypothesis of social exchange sees human connections and exchanges as a sort of results-driven social conduct.

The major idea of the hypothesis of social exchange is cost and rewards. This implies cost and prize correlations drive human choices and conduct.

Costs are the negative results of a choice, for example, time, cash and vitality. Prizes are the positive consequences of social exchanges.

Subsequently, the by and large acknowledged thought is that individuals will subtract the expenses from the prizes so as to figure the worth. 

For instance, an individual requests that a colleague help them move, yet they just marginally know one another.

The colleague will survey their relationship history, the condition of their relationship and the potential advantages.

In the event that the associate doesn’t feel near the individual and doesn’t anticipate seeking after a social relationship, they may decay.

Be that as it may, if the individual guarantees certain favors, for example, assisting the colleague with a troublesome issue, they may concur. 

Cross-Culture Perspectives 

Diverse specialists note that while investigating the choices of various social orders, social qualities ought to be remembered for the procedure.

This is on the grounds that each culture has their own novel method for making a decision about worth, expenses and rewards.

For instance, Asian social orders, for example, China and Japan, are aggregate societies that accentuate bunch agreement and penance for the gathering.

In this manner, certain individual costs, for example, individual flexibility or bliss, are not as significant as in individualized societies.

Truth be told, the negative expenses of social objection are increasingly serious in aggregate Asian societies. 

Applied Social Exchange Concepts 

The hypothesis of social exchange is remarkably applied in various fields.

For instance, the hypothesis of social exchange is fundamental to the business concepts of relationship advertising.

From this point of view, the customer is a speculation that must be appropriately overseen and developed.

Then again, analysts frequently break down connections inside the structure of social exchange.

This is on the grounds that a couple’s relationship wellbeing relies upon how the people included measure the expenses and awards of their relationship.

To recap, the hypothesis of social exchange is imperative to comprehend human collaboration and dynamic.

The hypothesis has superb applications for genuine circumstances, for example, get business and relational connections.

The Social Exchange Theory is something that everybody ought to comprehend and join into how they decide. 

Essential Assumptions of Social Exchange Theory 

Ø  People who are engaged with the communication are normally looking to boost their benefits. 

Ø  Most satisfaction among people originates from others. 

Ø  People approach data about social, monetary, and mental parts of their collaborations that permit them to think about the other option, progressively gainful circumstances comparative with their current circumstance. 

Ø  People are objective and arranged in an unreservedly serious framework. 

Ø  The exchange works inside cultural norms. 

Ø  Social credit is favored over social obligation. 

Ø  The more denied the individual feels as far as a demonstration, the more the individual will allocate an incentive to it. 

Ø  People are balanced and figure the most ideal intends to contend in compensating circumstances. The equivalent is valid for discipline evasion circumstances. 


Many scrutinize this hypothesis for assuming that individuals consistently settle on balanced choices, and point out that this hypothetical model neglects to catch the force that feelings play in our day by day lives and in our connections with others.

Costs versus Advantages 

 Expenses include things that you see as negatives, for example, putting cash, time, and exertion into a relationship.

For instance, in the event that you have a companion that consistently needs to get cash from you, at that point this would be viewed as a significant expense. 

The advantages are things that you escape the relationship, for example, fun, kinship, friendship, and social support.

Your companion may be somewhat of a freeloader; however he brings a great deal of fun and fervor to your life.

As you are deciding the estimation of the companionship, you may conclude that the advantages exceed the potential expenses. 

Social exchange hypothesis proposes that we basically take the advantages and subtract the expenses so as to decide how much a relationship is worth.

Positive connections are those in which the advantages exceed the expenses while negative connections happen when the expenses are more noteworthy than the advantages. 

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the social exchange theory:

What is the social exchange hypothesis?

The hypothesis of social exchange recommends that people will settle on choices dependent on specific results.

For instance, they will anticipate the most benefits, rewards, positive results and long haul benefits.

They will likewise incline toward the exchange those outcomes in the most security, social endorsement, and autonomy. 

What is the social exchange hypothesis model? 

A straightforward case of social exchange hypothesis can be found in the association of asking somebody out on the town.

On the off chance that the individual says truly, you have increased a prize and are probably going to rehash the cooperation by asking that individual out once more, or by asking another person out. 

What is the social exchange hypothesis in correspondence?

The social exchange hypothesis is a social mental viewpoint that clarifies social change and strength as a procedure of arranged exchanges between parties.

Social exchange hypothesis places that every single human relationship is framed by the utilization of an emotional money-saving advantage examination and the correlation of choices. 

For what reason is the social exchange hypothesis significant?

The social exchange hypothesis recommends that social conduct is the aftereffect of an exchange process.

The reason for this exchange is to amplify benefits and limit costs.

As per this hypothesis, created by humanist George Homans, individuals gauge the potential advantages and dangers of social connections.

Find social exchange theory interesting and want to learn more?

Here are some recommended readings!

Social exchange theory (A guide)

Early Social Exchange Theory, Thomas Hobbes

Social Exchange Theory: The Two Traditions, Peter B. Ekeh

Social Exchange Theory, Karen S. Cook

Explaining Conversations: A Developmental Social Exchange Theory, R. Murray Thomas


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