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Social Exchange and Rational Choice Theory

The essence of Social Exchange Theory (SET) and Rational Choice Theory (RCT) lies in their analytical approach to human behavior, relationships, and decision-making processes through the lens of cost-benefit analyses and rationality.
  • SET posits that human relationships are formed and maintained based on a cost-benefit analysis, using economic principles to explain behaviors.
  • RCT, evolving from SET, broadens the scope to include all human behaviors and decisions, emphasizing that actions are rational if they are goal-oriented, reflective, and consistent.
  • Both theories acknowledge the role of rational decision-making in human interactions but differ in their focus; SET is concerned with relationships, while RCT applies to a wider range of behaviors.
  • Critiques of these theories highlight their underestimation of emotions' impact on decision-making and their inability to account for self-sabotaging behaviors.
  • Despite criticisms, both theories are valued for portraying individuals as logical decision-makers and promoting understanding and tolerance towards others' choices.
Introduction to Social Exchange and Rational Choice Theories
Exploring Social Exchange Theory (SET)
Understanding Rational Choice Theory (RCT)
Critiques and Appreciation of SET and RCT