Theoretical Frameworks for Personal Relationships

By Ralph Erber ; Robin Gilmour | Go to book overview

Although interdependence theories should apply to relationships in any culture and at any point in history, interdependence phenomena will vary widely. For instance, I noted earlier that today's intimate partners tend to value equality highly, often considering it a necessary property of closeness. Yet this belief is a fairly recent one. Only a century or two ago, male-female relations in marriages and families could better be described as either " owner-property" or as "head-complement" relations ( Scanzoni, 1979).

How, then, will current and future macrosocial trends affect the nature of the desired and actual forms of couple interdependence? If greater gender equality should indeed become the rule, how will this affect the future cohesion of close couples? On the one hand, it could facilitate mutual communication and disclosure, because equals usually can speak more frankly to each other than unequals. On the other hand, it could conceivably interfere with such communication, to the extent that one or both partners might prize their independence so much as to drift apart from each other.


CONCLUSION

This chapter has attempted more to raise questions than to answer them. It has contrasted the social psychologist's usual emphasis on limited microsystem phenomena with a recognition of the powerful influence that macrosystern forces exert on the conduct of relationships. How such forces actually affect particular sets of relationships remains to be determined. But personal relationship researchers can profitably give them greater attention.


REFERENCES

Altman, I., & Taylor, D. M. ( 1973). Social penetration: The development of interpersonal relationships. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Argyle, M. ( 1972). The psychology of interpersonal behaviour ( 2nd ed.). Hammondsworth: Penguin.

Bakan, D. ( 1966). The duality of human existence: Isolation and communion in Western man. Boston: Beacon.

Bales, R. F., & Borgatta, E. F. ( 1955). "Size of group as a factor in the interaction profile". In A. P. Hare , E. F. Borgatta, & R. F. Bales (Eds.), Small groups (pp. 396-413). New York: Knopf.

Becker, G. S. ( 1973). "A theory of marriage: Part I". Journal of Political Economy, 81,813-846.

Bellah, R., Madsen, R., Sullivan, W. M., Swidler, A., & Tipton, S. M. ( 1984). Habits of the heart. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Belsky, J. ( 1980). "Child maltreatment: An ecological integration". American Psychologist, 35,320-335.

Bennis, W. G., Schein, E. H., Steele, F. I., & Berlew, D. C. ( 1968). Interpersonal dynamics (rev. ed.). Homewood, IL: Dorsey.

Berscheid, E., & Campbell, B. ( 1981). "The changing longevity of heterosexual close relationships". In M. J. Lerner & S. C. Lerner (Eds.), The justice motive in social behavior (pp. 209-234). New York: Plenum.

Berscheid, E., Snyder, M., & Omoto, A. M. ( 1989). "The Relationship Closeness Inventory: Assessing the closeness of' interpersonal relationships". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57,792-807.

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