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Chapter 9

Why Social Relationships Matter

1. We Form Relationships Because We Need to Belong
a. Evolutionary psychologists argue that our motivation toward social relationships is
innate rather than learned.
i. Need to Belong Theory: hypothesis by Baumeister that says each of us is
born with a fundamental drive to seek, form, maintain, and protect
strong social relationships.
1. Suggests that for us to satisfy our drive for relationships, we need
social bonds that are both interactive and emotionally close.
2. Being cut off from social interaction can be physically and
psychologically devastating.
a. What solitary confinement is such as harsh punishment.
3. Research indicates that online relationships can be just as emotionally
close and involve just as much interaction as face-to-face
4. As a society we are now less engaged in social structures than we
were in previous times.
a. Since we have fewer social structures we tend to gravitate
towards people who are more similar to us.
i. How will this affect diversity?
2. Social Relationships Bring Rewards
a. Social Relationships Bring Emotional Rewards
i. Friends provide us with at least two types of emotional rewards:
1. Emotional support, or encouragement during times of emotional
2. Happiness
b. Social Relationships Bring Material Rewards
i. Social relationships may benefit us by helping us meet our material needs,
such as our needs for money, food, shelter, and transportation.
1. We tend to share those types of resources with people to whom we
feel close.
c. Social Relationships Bring Health Rewards
i. James House concluded that a lack of strong, positive social relationships is
as big a risk for premature mortality as cigarette smoking, obesity, and
elevated blood pressure.
ii. At least two reasons why having good friends may keep us healthy:
1. The happiness and relaxation close friendships provide help us to
ward off the negative effectives of stress.
2. Friends can look out for our safety and well being. Friends can
encourage us to pursue healthy behaviors.
3. Social Relationships Carry Costs as Well as Rewards
a. You must make and emotional investment when your friend needs support.
b. There can be material costs such as traveling or going out to dinner.
c. Require time and physical investments such as help a friend move into their new

Forming and Maintaining Social Bonds
1. Attraction Theory (Most Important Theory)
a. Attraction Theory
i. Interpersonal Attraction: Any force that draws people together to form a
ii. Physical Attraction: Attraction to someones physical appearance.
iii. Social Attraction: Attraction to someones personality.
1. Ex: you like someone because of their positive attitude or their sense
of humor.
iv. Task Attraction: Attraction to someones abilities and dependability.
1. Ex: someone who is a good cook or good at a subject that you are not.
b. We Are Attracted By Appearance
i. Human are highly visually oriented, so when we find someone to be
physically attractive, we are often motivated to get to know that person
better. Two reasons for why we behave this way:
1. Research We value and appreciate physical attractiveness, so we want
to be around people we consider attractive.
2. Throughout history, humans have sought physically attractive others
as mates.
ii. Decades of research demonstrate that in reality we pay an enormous amount
of attention to physical appearance when were forming social and personal
1. Attraction is a combination of social and genetic characteristics.
iii. Some notions of beauty vary widely from culture to culture
1. Ex: Weight: In North American and Western Europe, a physically fit
body is considered the most attractive. In many African and
Australian tribal cultures an overweight body is considered the most
attractive, at least for women.
iv. Cultures also vary in the ways in which they manipulate or mutilate the body
to achieve physical attractiveness.
1. Ex: Lip plates or metal rings around the neck.
v. Other aspects of physical attractiveness are cross-cultural.
1. People around the world prefer bodies and faces that are symmetrical
and that have features that are proportional in size to one another.
2. Across cultures, men are also attracted to women who appear healthy
and young, because those characteristics signal their ability to
produce healthy offspring.
3. Across cultures, women are attracted to men who look powerful and
appear to have resources, because those characteristics signal their
ability to provide for a family.
c. We Are Attracted By Proximity
i. Proximity refers to how closely together people live or work and how often
they interact.
ii. We are more likely to form and maintain social relationships with people we
see often then with people we dont.
1. Some researchers have suggested that the Internet has reduced the
influence of proximity on attraction.
a. Although our choices of online friend may still be influenced by
physical appearance and our perceived similarity, they need
not be bound by physical proximity.
iii. Using Social Comments In An Online Course
1. Social Comments: words that build or reinforce relationships. Used to
minimize feelings of emotional and geographical distance. Used by
people for four specific purposes:
a. To reveal themselves: communicated about experiences and
personal interests as a way of self-disclosing to others in the
b. To forge ties with students: asked others personal questions,
expressed approval or validation of others ideas, and
conveyed interest in one anothers lives to build virtual
c. To contribute to task solutions.
d. To find personal meaning.
d. We Are Attracted By Similarity
i. Research shows were more likely to form social relationships with people
who are similar to, rather than different from, ourselves.
ii. Find similarity attractive for two reasons:
1. We often find social validation in people who are similar to us.
2. It is in our genetic interests to do so.
a. For our primitive ancestors, similarity was one of the most
reliable ways to distinguish relatives from nonrelatives.
i. Important because two people who look and behave
similarly are more likely to share genetic material with
each other. We are motivated to help those with whom
they share genetic material. Ensures the survival of
their own genes.
e. We Are Attracted By Complementarity
i. We may believe that opposites attract, but in reality similarity is often more
attractive than differences.
ii. We can also be attracted to people who are different from ourselves if we see
their differences as complementary (beneficial to ourselves because they
provide a quality we lack).
1. The key to attraction based on complementarity is that the people
involved have to see their differences as positive.
2. Uncertainty Reduction Theory
a. A theory by Berger and Calabrese suggesting that people are motivated to reduce
their uncertainty about others.
i. Each new piece of information you gain reduces your uncertainty more.
ii. Suggests that the less uncertain you are, the more you will like the person.

3. Predicted Outcome Value Theory
a. A theory by Sunnafrank that predicts that we form relationships when we think the
effort will be worth it.
i. If we like what we learn about someone during our initial conversations,
we predict positive outcomes for future communication with that person,
meaning we will want to get to know the person better.

4. Understanding Relationship Formation
a. Approach Behaviors: communication behaviors that signal ones interest in getting
to know someone.
i. Include verbal statements and nonverbal actions.
ii. According to uncertainty theory, the primary purpose for engaging gin
approach behaviors is to collect information about the other person to
reduce uncertainty about him or her.
b. Avoidance Behaviors: communication behaviors that signal ones lack of interest in
getting to know someone.
i. Include verbal statements and nonverbal actions.
ii. According to predicted outcome value theory, we should like a person less
because the outcomes wed predict from knowing him or her would seem
less positive.
5. Theories About Costs and Benefits
a. Social Exchange Theory and Relationship Formation
i. Social Exchange Theory: a theory predicting that people seek to form and
maintain relationships in which the benefits outweigh the costs.
1. Costs: anything that you find bad for you in a relationship.
a. Every relationship has costs.
b. Not the same for every person or relationship.
2. Benefits: anything you find rewarding in the relationship.
a. Not the same for every person or relationship.. Something you
might find benefiting may be a cost for someone else.
b. There may be times when the costs outweigh the rewards, but
you pull from your stockpile to balance the two out.
i. If there is not enough in the stockpile, relationships
often end.
3. Comparison Level: A persons realistic expectation of what the person
wants and thinks he or she deserves from a relationship.
a. Influences how satisfied you are in a relationship.
i. Even if you are in the positive you may not stay in a
ii. Comparison levels vary from person to person.
1. Some people have a hard time staying in
relationships because their comparison level is
too high: nobody is ever good enough.
b. Influenced by relationship experiences and cultural norms.
4. Comparison Level for Alternatives: a persons assessment of how
good his or her current relationship is, compared with other options.
a. We are less likely to leave a relationship, even if the person is
not meeting our comparison levels (but we are still in the
positive), if there is no one on deck that we think we get higher
profits from.
i. Vice versa, if a relationship is meeting our comparison
level we are more likely to leave the relationship if we
think someone else would give us higher profits.
b. Influences whether a relationship will last.
5. Committed and Satisfied: the person is meeting your comparison level
and there is not somebody on deck (no alternatives).
6. Uncommitted but Satisfied: the person is meeting your comparison
levels, but there is someone else you think you might get higher levels
7. Dissatisfied but Committed: your comparison level is not being met,
but there are no other alternatives that are better. Being alone is not a
better alternative and no other person can provide a better
a. Social exchange theory provides an explanations for why
people maintain relationships that appear to be costly.
i. Ex: Abusive Relationships
8. Dissatisfied and Uncommitted: your comparison level is not being met
and there are other alternatives that are better. This relationship will

b. Equity Theory and Relationship Formation
i. Equity Theory: a theory predicting that a good relationship is one in which a
persons ration of costs and rewards is equal to that of the persons partner.
1. Defines a good relationship as one in which your ration of costs and
rewards is equal to your partners.
a. Doesnt mean that relationships have to be equitable at every
moment or in every instance. It does suggest, however, that
they must be equitable in the long run.
2. Over-Benefited: the state in which ones relational rewards exceed
ones relational costs.
a. Can make you feel guilty after a while.
3. Under Benefited: the state in which ones relational costs exceed ones
relational rewards.
6. Relational Maintenance Behaviors: behaviors used to maintain and strengthen personal
a. Positivity
i. Include acting friendly and cheerful, being courteous, and refraining from
criticizing other people.
1. Smile frequently, express their affection and appreciation for others,
and dont complain.
2. Make others feel comfortable around us.
b. Openness
i. Describes a persons willingness to talk with his or her friend or relational
partner about their relationships.
ii. People who use this strategy are likely to disclose their thoughts and feelings,
ask how their friend feels about the relationship, and confide in their friend.
c. Assurances
i. Defined by Stafford and Canary as verbal and nonverbal behaviors that
people use to illustrate their faithfulness and commitment to others.
1. Reassures the friend or partner that the relationship has a future.
d. Social Networks
i. Refers to all the friendships and family relationships one has.
ii. An important relation maintenance behavior is to share ones social network
with another person.
1. Convergence is an important way to keep relationships stable and
a. Individuals undermine that convergence when they speak
poorly of the friends and relatives of their friends or actively
avoid spending time with them.
e. Sharing Tasks
i. Means performing ones fair share of the work in a friendship.
1. One way of maintaining a relationship is to make certain the two
parties are contributing equally.
7. Understanding Relationship Maintenance
a. Social Exchange Theory and Relationship Maintenance
i. Leads us to compare the costs and rewards of our current relationships with
those of our alternatives.
1. From this perspective of this theory, you ultimately will choose the
option that benefits you most.
b. Equity Theory and Relationship Maintenance
i. Leads us to compare how much the current relationship costs and rewards
ourselves with how much it costs and rewards our partner.
1. From this perspective of this theory, we prefer relationships in which
we receive benefits equal to those of our partners.
c. Shifts In Costs and Benefits
i. Some of the characteristics we think of as benefits turn into costs and vice

Characteristics of Friendships
1. Friendships Are Voluntary
a. We choose our friends and they choose us, and we dont have to be friends with
anyone we dont want to be.
i. Doesnt mean we choose our friend arbitrarily.
1. Attraction and the balance of costs and rewards all affect whom we
pursue and maintain as friends.
2. Friendships Are Between Peers
a. Peer: someone of similar power or status to oneself.
i. Your instructors, boss, and parents arent your peers because those people
all exercise some measure of control over you, at least temporarily.
1. Doesnt mean that we cant become friends with our instructors, boss,
and parents.
3. Friendships Are Governed by Rules
a. Even if the rules arent explicitly stated, most people within a given society usually
know and understand them.
i. Stand up for your friend in his or her absence.
ii. Trust each other.
iii. Offer help when your friend needs it.
iv. Don't criticize your friend in public.
v. Keep your friend's secrets.
vi. Provide emotional support when needed.
vii. Respect your friend's privacy.
viii. Don't be jealous of his or her other friends.
ix. Maintain equity
b. Research tells us most people agree there are right and wrong ways to treat friends.
4. Friendships Differ by Sex
a. Same-Sex Friends
i. Women and men value different aspects of their respective friendships.
1. Friendships among women tend to place greater emphasis on
conversational and emotional expressiveness, whereas mens
friendships focus on shared activities and interests.
2. Friendships among women tend to involve more touching and talking
face to face.
ii. Research has demonstrated that women and men report equal levels of
closeness in their same-sex friendships.
iii. Studies show that overall, both women and men consider their same-sex
friends to be more loyal and helpful than their opposite-sex counterparts.
b. Opposite-Sex Friends
i. Research suggests that both men and women value those relationships as a
chance to see things from each others perspective.
ii. Many opposite-sex friends feel some degree of physical or romantic
attraction toward each other, and they often communication in ways that
resemble romantic relationships.
1. Research of college students by Afifi and Faulkner found that half of
the students reported having engaged in sexual activity with a
nonromantic opposite sex friend.
iii. When a friends with benefits relationship ends, 97% of the friendships end
as well.
iv. Messman, Canary, and Hause discovered that people keep their opposite sex
friendships nonromantic for six primary reasons.
1. They aren't physically attracted to their friend.
2. Their relatives and other friends wouldn't approve of a romantic
relationship with the friend.
3. They aren't ready to be in a romantic relationship.
4. They want to protect their existing friendship.
5. They fear being disappointed or hurt.
6. They are concerned about a third party, such as a sibling, who is
romantically interested in the friend.
5. Friendships Have a Life Span
a. Communication scholar William Rawlings has proposed that most friendships move
though a life span consisting of six stages:
i. Role-limited interaction: meet and interact for the first time. Communication
follows social and cultural norms for interaction between strangers. Civil
and polite, but share little personal information.
1. Lots of interactions dont go any further than this stage.
2. Ex: the person that checks you in everyday
ii. Friendly relations: conversations become friendlier. For example, they may
share personal stories or antidote.
1. Might be people in your classes that you sit to next to everyday.
iii. Moves toward friendship: communication becomes more social and less
bound by norms and rules. Start to do things together.
iv. Nascent friendship: begin to think of themselves as friends. Communication
continues to become more personal and less prescribed.
v. Stabilized friendship: consider friendship to be fully established. Trust each
other strongly and may even adjust attitudes and opinions to be more in line
with each others.
vi. Waning friendship: marks the decline of their friendship. Friendship may
simply become more distant and causal, or it may end all together.
b. Friendships Can Grow To Dislike Each Other
i. We dont necessarily terminate friendships on the basis of a single negative
event. When a friend repeatedly wrongs us, however, we might grow to
dislike him or her over time.
ii. Negative feelings are most likely to arise when one friend:
1. Constantly nags or criticizes the other
2. Betrays the other's confidence or trust
3. Behaves in a hostile or physically violent way around the other
4. Begins abusing alcohol or other drugs
5. Fails to provide help or support when the other friend needs it
6. Becomes intolerant of the other friend's romantic partner or other
7. Feels he or she no longer has anything in common with the other
c. Friends Life Circumstances Can Change
i. Many friends simply drift apart.
1. As our lives change we may have less opportunity to interact with
particular friends. Friendship ends simply from lack of attention.
a. According to research, one of the most common life changes
that can end a friendship is physical separation.
i. Other causes include marriage and having children.
b. We dont necessarily want the friendship to end. Rather, we
simply no longer have the necessary time, energy, and
attention to maintain it.

Social Relationships in the Workplace
1. Social Relationships With Co-Workers
a. You are most likely to form workplace friendships with your immediate co-workers
because co-workers are usually peers rather than superiors or subordinates.
i. Also share common experiences.
b. All other things being equal, the closer you are to our co-workers, the happier you
are at work.
c. Also challenging because the relationship has both and social and a task dimension,
which frequently come into conflict.
2. Social Relationships Between Superiors and Subordinates
a. More complicated than friends with co-workers because they include a power
i. It is often best if people in power-imbalanced friendships acknowledge the
potential conflicts their friendships can entail and discuss them directly,
particularly if they started their relationship as peers, and one of them is
later promoted.
b. Research shows that being friends with your boss usually adds to your job
c. One situation thats extremely problematic for superior-subordinate relationships is
the case in which the subordinate feels he or she has been sexually harassed.
i. Sexual Harassment: unsolicited, unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature. Can
occur in two forms:
1. Quid Pro Quo this for that: happens when a supervisor offers an
employee rewards in exchange for sexual favors.
2. Hostile Work Environment: occurs when work conditions are sexually
offensive or intimidating.
3. Social Relationships With Clients
a. Companies encourage employees not to develop personal friendships with
i. Recognize that that loyalty and favor we often have for friends can interfere
with the professional relationship.
b. Separation of personal and profession relationships is particularly important in the
health care setting.
i. Ethical guidelines issued by the American College of Physicians discourage
doctors from treating friends, relatives, intimate partners, and other
individuals with whom they have close personal relationships.