Social Exchange Theory and the Concept of Equity



There are numerous social situations in which people make judge­ments about how much they may be ‘putting in’ as against what they may be receiving in terms of rewards, compared with another party. The whole basis of this process is perceptual; although in some, usually formalized, situations, there may be ‘objective’ criteria which form the basis of an assessment procedure for measuring inputs and outcomes. However, not all inputs and outcomes can be measured in this way and inevitably there is usually an evaluative element in the procedure. Thus, individuals and groups will, through this process of social comparison, arrive at a view as to the justice or fairness inherent in a particular reward system. Where they perceive injustice, they may experience resentment or anger. In such circumstances they may attempt to do something to change the situation. Where they cannot, they may react by reducing their inputs and experiencing lowered motivation.


Comparison Level Social Exchange Equity Theory Behaviour Control Exchange Relationship 
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© Elizabeth Chell 1985

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