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Noncomparability of Benefits Given and Received: A Cue to the Existence of Friendship

Margaret S. Clark
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 44, No. 4 (Dec., 1981), pp. 375-381
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3033907
Page Count: 7
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Noncomparability of Benefits Given and Received: A Cue to the Existence of Friendship
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Abstract

In three studies subjects read paragraphs describing one person benefiting another, then the other benefiting the person. In the first two studies, the comparability of the benefits was varied. In the second, length of the delay between benefits was also varied. After reading each paragraph, subjects judged the degree of friendship between the two people. In both studies perceived friendship was greater when benefits were noncomparable than when they were comparable. Delay did not influence perceived friendship. In the third study, subjects read the paragraphs from the second study and explained why the second benefit was given. Benefits comparable to prior benefits were more likely to be perceived as repayments than were noncomparable benfits. Delay did not affect the reasons given. These results are discussed in terms of Clark and Mills's (1979) distinction between communal and exchange relationships.

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