Theories of Interpersonal Relationship

Interpersonal relationship refers to a strong association amongst individuals with similar tastes, aspirations and interests in life. It is essential for individuals to share a healthy relationship with each other not only for quicker delivery of results but also for a positive ambience at the workplace.

Let us go through the theories of interpersonal relationship development in detail:

Social Exchange Theory

Social Exchange Theory was proposed by George Casper Homans in the year 1958.

According to Social Exchange Theory “give and take” forms the basis of almost all relationships though their proportions might vary as per the intensity of the relationship.

In a relationship, every individual has expectations from his/her partner. A relationship without expectations is meaningless.

According to Social Exchange theory feelings and emotions ought to be reciprocated for a successful and long lasting relationship.

Relationships can never be one sided. An individual invests his time and energy in relationships only when he gets something out of it.

There are relationships where an individual receives less than he gives. This leads to situations where individual starts comparing his relationship with others.

Comparisons sometimes can be really dangerous as it stops individuals from putting their best in relationships. Don’t always think that you would have a better relationship with someone else. Understand your partner and do as much as you can for him/her. Don’t always expect the other person to do things first. Take initiative on your own and value partner.

Uncertainty Reductions Theory

Both Charles R. Berger and Richard J. Calabrese proposed Uncertainty Reductions Theory to explain the relationship between individuals who do not know each other much or are complete strangers.

According to Uncertainty Reductions Theory, two unknown individuals meeting for the first time go through various stages to reduce the level of uncertainty between them and come closer to each other. Strangers must communicate well to know each other better and find out their compatibility level.

Following are the stages individuals go through to reduce the level of uncertainty in relationships.

  1. Entry Stage

    The entry stage is characterized by two individuals trying to know each other better.

    Each one tries to find out the other person’s background, family members, educational qualification, interests, hobbies and so on.

    Each one discloses his/her likes and dislikes to strengthen the bond and take the relationship to the next level.

  2. Personal Stage

    In the second stage or the personal stage, individuals try to find out more about their partner’s attitude and beliefs.

    Individuals try to know more about the other person’s ethics, values, behaviour and nature on the whole. Individuals who are no longer strangers learn more about each other’s personality traits in the personal stage.

  3. The Exit Stage

    The Personal Stage decides the fate of the relationship. Individuals comfortable in each other’s company decide to enter into long term commitments i.e. either formally get married or stay together forever.

    Not all relationships flower into marriages. Individuals failing to understand and adjust with each other decide to mutually end their relationship for a better future.

    The exit stage is characterized by individuals moving out of relationships in search of a more compatible partner.




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