Social Exchange Theory



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Standpoint Theory

  • Standpoint Theory claims that each person is seated in a different rank among the social hierarchy. Because of this, each person views the social climate from a different vantage point, which only provides a small look at the social whole. But the theory also claims that those who are lower on the social ladder tend to have a greater understanding of the social whole, rather than those higher up.

Symbolic Interactionism Theory

  • Symbolic Interaction Theory suggests that the concept of self is created by three principles: 1) Meaning: that we act towards and things according to the meanings we apply to them. 2) Language: that we negotiate meaning through symbols. 3) Thought: that thought modifies our interpretations. Symbolic interactionism implies that without communication there would be no self concept.

Uncertainty Reduction Theory

  • Uncertainty Reduction Theory states that when strangers meet, their primary goal is to reduce levels of uncertainty. Uncertainty meaning, being unsure of how to behave (or how the other person will behave), and unsure of what to think of the other person. For example, if they like the person or do not like the person. According to this theory, they will use communication to reduce this uncertainty.

Uses and Gratifications Theory

  • The Uses and Gratifications Theory assumes audiences actively seek out media to satisfy individual needs. With this assumption, the Uses and Gratifications Theory looks to answer three questions: what do people do with the media, what are their underlying motives for using said media, and what are the pros and cons of this individual media use.

Social Exchange Theory

  • Social Exchange Theory posits an ‘economic’ exchange for in interpersonal relationships. Meaning, the relationships is enhanced by satisfying each others self-interest. In this theory, self-interest is not regarded as a bad thing, but rather as a concept that builds the relationship.

Social Learning Theory

  • Social Learning Theory argues that people learn from each other through observing, imitating, and modeling the behaviors, attitudes, and emotional reactions of others. Social learning theory explains how human behavior can be shaped by continuous reciprocal interaction between cognitive, behavioral, an environmental influences.


Choose one of the theory options and answer the following questions about the theory you’ve selected.

  1. Identify the theory you’ve selected and the researchers that developed it.
  2. Using 1-2 scholarly sources (the UNLV library database, Google Scholar) unpack the theory you’ve selected and give a brief background on the theory’s development.
  3. Explain why your theory is a “communication theory.”
  4. Take your theory and choose 4 of the 6 constitutions (Testable; Falsifiable; Heuristic; Parsimonious; Logically consistent, and Pleasing to the Mind) and explain how each of those 4 constitutions are defined in your theory.
  • Hint: Utilize pages 53-56 of the “Perspectives on Communication Theory” reading.
  1. Identify which goal(s) your theory has and explain why you think your theory fits this goal.
  • Hint: Utilize pages 58-60 of the “Perspectives on Communication Theory” reading.
  1. Select which of the seven theoretical traditions your theory fits into and justify your answer. If you think your theory fits into more than one, explain why.
  • A quick note, this will require you to dig a bit deeper into the readings about the 7  traditions in order to connect all of the dots.
  • Hint: Utilize pages 61-66 of the “Perspectives on Communication Theory” reading

Criteria: In order to receive full credit for this analysis, you responses should do the following:

  • Utilize the module readings, supplemental module materials, and UNLV library database to find 1-2 Communication journal articles to help you unpack the theory you select.
  • You must respond to all parts of the questions in their entirety or you will lose points.
  • While there is no page requirement for this assignment, explanations should be thorough and examples should clearly demonstrate your grasp of the module materials.
    • (Generally, good submissions for this assignment range from 3-5 pages).
  • Your responses must be complete grammatically correct sentences (no bullets or diagrams), written at a college level, and contain accurate information derived from the readings, module materials, the required outside academic sources, and cited accordingly.
  • Please format your response in Times New Roman or Arial, 12-point font, and be double-spaced.

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