Interdependence theory

Paul A.M. Van Lange, Caryl E. Rusbult

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


As one of the classic theories of social psychology, interdependence theory has since its earliest formulation (Thibaut and Kelley, 1959) addressed broad classic themes such as dependence and power, rules and norms, as well as coordination and cooperation. Later, Kelley and Thibaut (1978) provided a more comprehensive statement of the theory which allowed researchers to analyze topics such as attribution and self-presentation, trust and distrust, love and commitment, conflict and communication, and risk and self-regulation. Interdependence theory seeks to capture the essence of social life by advancing a conceptual framework for understanding social interaction. In particular, it identifies the most important characteristics of interpersonal situations via a comprehensive analysis of situation structure, and describes the implications of structure for understanding intrapersonal and interpersonal processes (Kelley et al., 2003). Situation structure matters because it is the interpersonal reality within which motives are activated, toward which cognition is oriented, and around which interaction unfolds. This chapter describes key principles of the theory, and illustrates the utility of an interdependence theoretic analysis via a review of phenomena that we may observe everywhere around us – such as regulatory fit, persistence in the face of dissatisfaction, the basis for understanding generosity, and the ebbs and flows of intergroup relations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Theories of Social Psychology
EditorsP.A.M. van Lange, A.W. Kruglanski, E.T. Higgins
Place of PublicationThousand Oaks, CA
PublisherSage Publications Inc.
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781446249222, 9781446250075, 9781283879491, 9780857029614
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Bibliographical note

ISBN 2 volumes set: 9781847875143


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