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This was developed by Kelley and his colleague
Thibaut and their concentration was more on
rewards and cost in relationships. They defined
rewards and cost in human interaction in a
distinctly human terms.
Rewards are the satisfaction that a person
receives from having participated in a given
interaction with another.
Costs are those factors which are negative in
nature, there for the results of any relationship
are either rewards received or costs incurred.
These factors are determined by factors
external or internal in that interaction and are
classified into exogenous and endogenous
Exogenous factors include the individuals own
needs, values and abilities whiles endogenous
factors are the ones inherent in the
relationship .In all relationships, partners aim
at maximizing their own positive out comes by
enacting those behaviors that yield great
satisfaction or greatest positive outcome for
their partner .
However, in situations where behaviors don’t
yield positive outcomes to both parties, it’s
likely that both partners will change their
behaviors so that they enact those were both
can attain maximal positive outcomes.
Thus at the earlier on set of the interaction
,each member samples the out comes
available to him or her in the intended
interaction .Members will sustain in the
interaction only if the results of their sampling
on the outcomes of the interaction are
sufficient .the accuracy of the findings are
evaluated on two criteria namely;
1.The comparison level (CL).
2.The comparison level for alternatives.

The comparison level is the standard by which

an individual evaluate the attractiveness of a
relationship, whereas, comparison level for
alternatives is the standard by which an
individual decide whether or not he or she
remain in the relationship. However, the above
two factors are not consistent with practical life
where an individual can decide to stay in a
relationship regarded as unattractive if it’s the
best available to him or her at that time.
The comparison level is the minimum level of
positive outcome which an individual feels he
or she deservers from any relationship. If a
given relationship yields outcomes which fall
above the comparison level, it should be
relatively attractive to the member; if the out
comes fall a below the comparison level, it
should be relatively unattractive.

exogenous determinants, to make

more clarification Kelley and his colleague
Thibaut are said to have explained it this way;
that are factors that come from outside the
social interaction and they include the
individual needs, similarity, proximity,
Complementarity and abilities of the partners
as discussed here under;
• Abilities, people who are usually chosen by
others as partners often have abilities that
the non chosen partner don’t have .thus
they posses or have potentials for
rewarding the other in an interaction
.However many factors play a big role
here, for example the persons willingness
to participate jointly with the other his or
her own needs that require specific
behavior from others .the interaction may
also involve more or less cost.
Nevertheless, positive outcomes are more
likely in relationships with more- able than in
those with less- able individual’s .thus out
comes are at least determined by the abilities
of the participants, this true in interactions in
which the goal is problem solution or task
completion. Ability here is the intelligence of
an individual or skills.
• Similarity, according to current research on
interactions, individuals with similar
attitudes are more likely to select one
another as friends, mates or partners. It’s
widely believed that individuals needs
social support for his or her opinion and his
opinion than another persons agreeing with
him will constitute a reward for him. There
for, two participants with similar values
may provide rewards for each other by
expressing values.
• Proximity is yet another exogenous
determinant of rewards and costs in social
interaction .it takes greater effort to form
and maintain distant ant relationships than
to form and maintain close relationship.
• Proximity in social setting, is connected to
similarity there for, these two variables
may vary in the formation of relationships.
Relationships in which partners are in close
proximity to each other, are said to be
more long lasting and usually yield positive
outcomes than in which partners are
spatially separated.
• Complimentarily, the formation of any
relationship should be built on partner’s
willingness to reward one another at low
cost to them selves. If complimentarily, do
exist in relationship, and then every
member can perform activities for the
other that the other can not perform him or
her self.
However, dominant partners will have
opportunity ever the other to exercise their
dominancy in relationship with dependant
persons. It’s upon that background that
Complementarity has been found to be more
significant factor in attraction and social
According to Kelley and Thibaut, the maximum
rewards and minimum costs that are available
to the individual, can only be achieved when
certain factors like endogenous determinants
are operative. Thus, the exogenous
determinants set limits of achievement of
positive out come in interactive relations or
setting, endogenous factors determine whether
or not these outcomes will actually be attained.
Endogenous determinants, these are factors
or consequences that result as of interaction
process. These are internal factors if when put
to utility lead to maximization of positive
outcomes for the participants. According to
Kelley and Thibaut , formation and
maintenance of relationship is in parts .thus for
relation to survive , both partners must
synchronize their behavior ( change) or
eliminate those which do not result into
satisfaction .They added on that behaviors
may be synchronized so that only compatible
ones are performed .
Formation of relationship once contacts have
been made, the formation and survival of the
relationship depend on the level of outcomes
the individual expects experience. Individuals
usually form and remain in relationships that
promise to yield best outcomes.
• Strangeness, usually individuals restrict the
range of behaviors which they are willing to
display to new acquaintances .This
situation is important when the two
persons making the initial contacts are
strange to one another.
These partners will face difficulty in that each
of them will be restricted in the way they
display behaviors to one another. Thus their
perspective about the relationship will remain
uncertain as to whether the interaction
exceeds their comparison level alternatives .In
this case, the individual will have to exert more
efforts to explore the relationship before
making up his or her decision about the
• Accessibility and cultural norms, in the
initial stages of the relationship there
exists stereotypic politeness between the
two parties (low- cost protection) and on
the other hand, make access to one
another slightly impossible that’s why
Kelley and Thibaut attributed it to cultural
norms that determine the acceptable
degree of intimacy between individuals in
social contacts.
• Autistic hostility, if there happen to be
some hostile practices in the early stages
of relation formation, it will restrict further
communication and will make it difficult to
look for solutions. Not only that, but also
limited the production of behavior from one
partner to influence the other.
• Autistic friendliness, as two partners
come into contacts with one another, there
exists friendliness based on needs, values,
and attitudes. Here both of them will tend
to maximize their production of behavior in
the presence of the other. Additionally,
they will tend to communicate more
frequently to one another. However, the
outcomes in this process will be biased
because the unfavorable outcomes will be
under represented and favorable outcomes
Under conditions of friendliness, the individual
has a firm basis to forecast positive outcomes
in the relationship. This means he will enter
into the relationship on a more permanent
Evaluation of relationship. Relationships are
evaluated on two scales these are;
1. Comparison level.
2. Comparison level for alternatives.
Comparison level is a natural measurement
which looks at satisfaction and dissatisfaction.
In instances where the positive outcomes
exceeds this hypothesis, its right to say the
relationship is attractive and satisfactory .But if
the outcomes fellow bellow this hypothesis, it s
said the relationship is unsatisfactory and an
Individual differences and comparison level
according Kelley and his colleague Thibaut
maintained that individuals consider them
selves in terms of perceptions of their own
power and effectiveness to attain and control
outcomes in future relationships. That is,
individuals who are optimistic and there for see
them selves as capable of attaining and
controlling present unattainable outcomes will
of course have higher comparison level than
individuals who are rather pessimistic about
their power to attain attractive present
unattainable outcomes, and later, will tend to
emphasize the reward components of
unattainable outcomes.
In conclusion, Kelley and Thibaut deserve
recognition for the theory that has managed to
stand the test of time and remain applicable in
modern time despite the fact that it was invited
some years back. The theory have offered a
bold and potentially important advance in their
methodology and thought .Nevertheless, of the
general Thibaut and Kelley framework and
analytic strategy does not necessarily rest
upon the outcomes of their newest derivation
.It has been found to offer a useful construction
of social relations which has admirably
enhanced the conceptual and empirical
understanding of social interdependence.