SPCOM100 Chapter Notes - Chapter 8: Dialectic, Social Exchange Theory, Physical Intimacy

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Chapter 8: dynamics of interpersonal relationships
Why we form relationships
Appearance
Appearance is important in early stages of relationship
Similarity
Similarity thesis: comforting to know someone who likes the same things you
like, has similar values, and may even be of the same race, economic class or
educational standing
Similarity turns from attraction to dislike when we encounter people who
are like us but who behave in a strange or socially offensive manner
Complementarity
Differences strengthen a relationship when they are complementary, when
each partner’s characteristics satisfy the other’s needs
oCouples are more likely to be attracted to each other when one
partner is dominant and other is passive
Rewards
Social exchange theory: we often seek out people who can give us rewards
that are greater than or equal to the costs we encounter in dealing with them
Rewards are outcomes we desire – may be tangible or intangible
Rewards – costs = outcome  we use this to determine whether relationship
is a good deal or not worth the effort
Comparison level (CI): minimum acceptable behavior
Compassion level of alternatives (CI alt): a comparison between rewards
one is receiving in present situation and those that one could expect to
receive in others
Competence
We like to be around talented people because we hope their skills and
abilities will rub off on us but we are uncomfortable around those who are
too competent
We tend to like people who are somewhat flawed because they remind us of
ourselves
Proximity
More likely to develop friendships with close neighbours than with distant
ones and the chances are good that we will choose as a mate a person we
cross paths with often
Disclosure
Increases liking because it is a sign of regard
Sharing private information is a form of respect and trust
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Key to satisfying self disclosure is reciprocity and timing
Intimacy and distance in relationships
Intimacy: motivation to share one’s private self with another person
Dimensions of intimacy
Emotional intimacy: sharing important information and feelings
oSharing distressing emotions with others can help to reduce stress
and provide support and comfort
Physical intimacy: i.e. fetus experiences physical closeness with mother that
will never happen again or being nourished by physical intimacy by being
rocked, fed, hugged and held
Intellectual intimacy: engage another person in an exchange of important
ideas, a kind of closeness develops that can be powerful
Shared activities: struggling together against obstacles or living together as
housemates
Dimensions of distance
Avoidance: avoid unwanted contact physical or by other means
Reserved: saying little when you’re with the other person
Shortening interaction: not asking questions or engaging in non verbal
behavior
Restricting topics: topics that might be personal or intimate
Restraint: avoiding, joking or other attention getting behaviours
Deception
Everyday contacts that do not require any sort of intimacy
Economic exchange: with people at work
Group membership: place of worship or school
Physical proximity: neighbours or through car pooling
Third part connections: mutual friends
Influences on intimacy and distance
Gender and intimacy
Research shows that women are more willing to share personal thoughts and
feelings
Lower rate of male self disclosure  sign that men were unwilling or unable
to develop close relationships
Women think sex as way to express intimacy where men are likely to see it as
way to create intimacy
Culture and intimacy
Notion of intimacy varies from one culture to another
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