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Lecture 9

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PSYC 331
Donald Taylor

LECTURE 9 EQUITY THEORY th February 4 , 2013 EQUITY THEORY  So far, theories about interpersonal relationships pretend to be true for all relationships o One on one o One to group o Group to group  These theories are supposed to have us understand everything  However, it starts up on a bad foot o It says that at the heart of what you and I are, in every relationship we tend to do, we look for relationships that maximize the benefits for us  We are self-centered  That’s what most of psychology said before equity theory came around Equity theory offers a whole new understanding  According to equity theory, in every single relationship, the principle is NOT that to seek to maximize things for ourselves  Rather, we are looking for FAIRNESS in ALL RELATIONSHIPS o We are looking for relationships that are equitable o What if it is fair to my advantage?  Find, as long as it is fair o What if it is unfair to my advantage  Not find, this is unfair  The first reaction in the scientific community was that the psychologists proposing equity theory were dreaming in colors  They thus proposed a very interesting analogy to understand the implications of equity theory STORY: The tragedy of the commons  Imagine an old English town with a common in the center  The common is a public green space where everyone in the village can share  There are 6 farmers in the village  For the farmers, it is the best deal ever since they can bring their sheep to eat the grass for free, the grass is thus cut, and the farmer can sell a fat and well-nourished sheep afterward  Farmer 2 decides to bring in an additional sheep in order to make extra money  The other farmers got to realize that there are more sheep now  They thus decide to add sheep too, to make more money also  By the end of the week, the common is filled with sheep  At the heart of this analogy, there is something very profound o Humans understood that by collectively organizing ourselves, we can maximize our rewards o These farmers are not crazy since their pursuit of justice is necessary  POINT: As a society we have to organize ourselves according to a social framework o According to equity theory, the framework is JUSTICE What kinds of justice are we talking about?  There is one rule that applies all the time: EQUITY o It is not about treating people equally o It is rather that the ratio of what I put in and what I get out must be equal to the ratio of what you put in and what you get out  There could be equity in an apparently unbalanced relationship: you put a lot in the relationship and get a lot in the relationship even if the other person doesn’t put a lot, but doesn’t have a lot either  Theory of justice  The premise: in every single human interaction, it is guided by the principle that this interaction has to be fair  It is counter to what we have be thought o We need to maximize our rewards and minimize our costs in relationship o All our psychological theorizing is based on the fact that we seek reward and avoid pain  This theory says that what guides us is fairness and equity  Any relationship has to be equitable  The equity principle o It is based on our perception, our view o The equity formula  If we are in a relationship, we are not demanding the same outcome but it has to be equitable  We get out proportional to what we put in  You should get the outcome proportional to what you put in o Someone who is putting too much to what they are getting back, they will feel frustrated, stressed psychologically o But if you are over benefitting, I will also be distressed o In a relationship, we seek equity Application of equity theory  Exploiter/Victim o We are bothered when a group or an individual takes advantage of another one o Rape or spousal abuse  Equity involves the ratio of outputs to inputs  It is the perception of the people in the relationship that matters  A guy can make it looks equitable by the way he perceives the situation: ex: “She got what she deserved”  The point is that the people in the relationship can actually change the inputs and outcomes OR they can change their PERCEPTION of the situation  The man prefers to psychologically plays with the inputs and outputs  The woman is more likely to change the actual outputs, to demand real change in behavior  The victims often do not have the power to discuss the input and outcome  We have a tendency to blame the victim because we tend to see the world as equitable Mystery: a women is victim of violence in a relationship  People often asked why does she put up with it?  Before, psychology would suggest that she cannot leave the guy because she is economically dependent on the guy o This is not so true anymore, at least in North America  Now, there are women, not for economic reasons, that would still stay in the relationship  The guy who delivers the abuse does 2 things o Justify his abuse  You made me so mad, you provoked me and so I lost it  The woman thereafter becomes convince that her inputs are causing all of this to happen and it is thus her own fault. o The next day he comes home with flowers and candy  We are just starting to understand behaviors that used to be so mysterious o These women are not stupid  We all want our relationships to be equitable no matter what  In this sense, equity theor
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