Last modified on 16 December 2006, at 09:07

Sociological Theory/Equity Theory

From Hatfield, Elaine. Equity Theory and Research. Blumberg, Herbert H. Small Groups and Social Interaction. John Wiley & Sons Inc.; 1983. Four Propositions: 1: Individuals will try to maximize their outcomes (where outcomes equal rewards minus punishments) 2a: Groups (or rather the individuals comprising these groups) can maximize collective reward by evoloving accepted systems for equitably apportioning resources among members. Thus, groups will evolve such systems of equity, and will attempt to induce members to accept and adhere to these systems. 2b: Groups will generally reward members who treat others equitably and generally punish members who treat each other inequitably. 3: When individuals find themselves participating in inequitable relationships, they will become distressed. The more inequitable the relationship, the more distress they will feel. 4. Individuals who discover they are in inequitable relationships will attempt to eliminate their distress by restoring equity. The greater the inequity that exists, the more distress they will feel, and the harder they will try to restore equity.

equity is in the eye of the beholder

only two ways to alter equity - altering their own or their partner's relative gains

applies to: exploiter/victim relationships, philanthropist/recipient relationships, business relationships, and intimate relationships

Notes: lot of problems with this theory: -still isn't deterministic; there is no way of knowing if a person will try to resolve the inequity and, if so, how -completely subjective - everyone's definition of equity is unique

Formula:  \frac{(O_A-I_A)}{(|I_A|)^{k_A}} = \frac{(O_B-I_B)}{(|I_B|)^{k_B}}

Where:

  • I_A and I_B designate a scrutineer's perception of Person A's and Person B's inputs
  • O_A and O_B designate his or her perception of Person A's and Person B's outcomes
  • and |I_A| and |I_B| designate the absolute value of their inputs