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Balance Theory: A Theory of Interpersonal Attraction?

Timothy J. Curry and Richard M. Emerson
Sociometry
Vol. 33, No. 2 (Jun., 1970), pp. 216-238
DOI: 10.2307/2786331
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2786331
Page Count: 23
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Balance Theory: A Theory of Interpersonal Attraction?
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Abstract

This study tests two theoretical approaches to interpersonal attraction. While the main effort is a replication of Newcomb's Acquaintance Process, portions of Chambliss' theory of attraction are tested also. We replicate Newcomb's study in a residence-hall setting that featurs eight-person natural living groups, and employ nine groups of initial strangers, six male and three female, over an eight-week period. Using nine groups allows us to expand the replication by examining inter-group differences, sex differences, and instrument effects. Although the data for some of our groups parallels Newcomb's, the data also reveal considerable variation between groups unexplainable by the AB-X formulation. Because of this variation, we explore alternative interpretations of the data, and conclude that group substructuring and perceptual-judgmental interpretations of ambiguous stimuli appear to account for relations previously attributed to the AB-X processes. The variable most strongly associated with attraction at all times is Chambliss' variable of "success," based upon an interactional approach. Interpretations of this variable via social exchange theory parsimoniously achieves explanation of the data gathered on the longitudinal aspects of reciprocity in social relations, and further questions the advisability of a cognitive balance approach to long-term attraction.

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