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5SOCIALEXCHANGETHEORY137Social exchange theory emerged withinfamily sciences in the latter part of thetwentieth century,first being consideredin a meaningful way in the early 1960s. It arose outof the philosophical traditions of utilitarianism,behaviorism,and neoclassical economics. Earlysocial exchange theory applications in familyscience arose out of the work of sociologists(Blau,1964; Homans,1961; Thibaut & Kelley,1959) who focused on the rational assessment ofself-interest in human social relationships. At itsmost basic,social exchange theory may be viewedas providing an economic metaphor to social rela-tionships. The theory’s fundamental principle isthat humans in social situations choose behaviorsthat maximize their likelihood of meeting self-interests in those situations.In taking such a view of human socialinteractions,social exchange theory includesa number of key assumptions. First,socialexchange theory operates on the assumption thatindividuals are generally rational and eng...