Reactions to a Request for a Benefit in Communal and Exchange Relationships

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Date
1977
Authors
Clark, Margaret Snydor
Advisor
Mills, Judson R.
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Abstract
Based on a distinction between communal relationships, in which benefits are given in response to the needs of the other, and exchange relationships, in which benefits are given with the expectation of receiving comparable benefits in return, the following hypotheses were proposed: 1) If a person has been aided by another, that other will be liked more when he requests a benefit than when he does not request a benefit, if the person expects an exchange relationship with the other. 2) If a person has been aided by another» that other will be liked more when he does not request a benefit than when he does request a benefit, if the person expects a communal relationship with the other. 3) If a person has not been aided by another, that other will be liked more when he does not request a benefit than when he does request a benefit, if the person expects an exchange relationship with the other. 4) If a person has not been aided by another, that other will be liked more when he requests a benefit than when he does not request a benefit, if the person expects a communal relationship with the other. Under the guise of a study of performance, female college students worked on a vocabulary task while a television monitor showed another female working on a similar task in another room. In order to manipulate the expectation of an exchange or a communal relationship, some of the subjects were told that the other was married, had a child, lived far from the university and that she and the subject would be discussing differences in interests in the second study (Exchange condition). Other subjects were told that the other was new at the university, did not know many people and that she and the subject would be discussing common interests in a second study (Communal condition). The other female finished the task, received one point and gave the subject aid on her task or did not give aid. The other female then requested a point from the subject or did not request a point. Finally, the subject's liking for the other and her expectations concerning the future discussion with the other were assessed. In general the results for the measure of liking provide evidence for the distinction between communal and exchange relationships. In support of the first hypothesis it was found that the other female was liked more in the Exchange-aid-request condition than in the Exchange-aid- no request condition. In support of the second hypothesis it was found that the other female was liked more in the Communal-aid-no request condition than in the Communal-aid-request condition. In support of the third hypothesis it was found that the other female was liked more in the Exchange-no aid-no request condition than in the Exchange-no aidrequest condition. The fourth hypothesis was not supported; there was no difference in liking for the other female in the Communal-no aid-request condition and in the Communal-no aid-no request condition. As would be expected from the distinction between communal and exchange relationships, liking was greater in the Exchange-aid-request condition than in the Exchange-no aid-request condition, marginally less in the Communal aid- request condition than in the Communal-no aid-request condition and less in the Exchange-aid-no request condition than in the Exchange-no aid-no request condition. The results for the measure of pleasantness of the future discussion with the other were also consistent with the distinction between communal and exchange relationships. The results on the liking measure demonstrate that equity principles, which have been useful in understanding a number of different social relationships, do not apply to all relationships.
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