Social Psychology

Student Learning Program

Chapter 11: From Acquaintance to Friend: Relationship Development (pp. 401404)

Ask Yourself?

In this topic

  1. Exchanges of Rewards: What's In It for Me? (pp. 402403)
  2. Self-disclosure (pp. 403404)
    1. Effects of self-disclosure
Exchanges of Rewards: What's In It for Me?

At the beginning of a relationship partners exchange rewards. These relationships are exchange relationship.

Exchange relationships turn into communal relationship when benefits are provided because of care rather than in order to receive benefits in return.

Actions like offering a favor without expecting one in return are important signals that indicate whether people want to make a transition from exchange to communal relationships.


Self-disclosure is the act of sharing facts, inner thoughts, feelings, and emotions about one's life and situation. Depth (level of intimacy) and breadth (range of topics) increase as relationships develop.

Effects of self-disclosure

Self-disclosure leads to more liking and deeper relationships because it signals trust, and because knowing each other's abilities, preferences, and needs leads to easier coordination of mutual activities and more understanding.

Self-disclosures are often exchanged in relationships; the norm of reciprocity is at work. However, when people disclose more than is appropriate, it makes others feel uncomfortable.

There is a strong gender difference in self-disclosure; women disclose more than men, especially in a same-sex relationship. In addition, men's disclosures often reflect an effort to deepen the relationship, while women's disclosures reflect their feelings about the relationship.

Research activity: Playing hard to get

So what does this mean?

Friendships develop through interactions that fulfill our need to master the social environment and the need for connectedness with others. People exchange rewards to help each other find individual satisfaction, and exchange self-disclosure to get to know each other intimately. If processes of exchanging rewards and self-disclosure continue smoothly, relationships between people transit from exchange relationship to communal relationship, and become more intimate.

Next topic

Close Relationships

In this chapter

  1. Chapter 11 introduction
  2. Initial Attraction
  3. From Acquaintance to Friend: Relationship Development
  4. Close Relationships
  5. Romantic Love and Sexuality
  6. When Relationships Go Wrong
  7. Chapter overview (PDF)
  8. Fill-in-the-blanks
  9. Multiple-choice questions