Caryl E. Rusbult & Kaska E. Kubacka
Interdependence Theory is one of the few extant theories to provide a comprehensive analysis of interpersonal phenomena. The theory analyzes interdependence structure , describing the character of the interpersonal world by identifying crucial properties of interactions and relationships. The theory also analyzes interdependence processes , explaining how structure influences emotion, cognition, motivation, and behavior. Harold Kelley and John Thibaut developed interdependence theory over the course of four decades, beginning in the 1950s. Its initial formulation was contemporaneous with early social exchange and game theories, with which it shares some postulates. This entry reviews key concepts and principles of the theory. Interdependence Theory presents a formal analysis of the abstract properties of social situations. Rather than examining concrete social elements such as “professor threatens student” or “woman argues with man,” the theory identifies abstract elements such as “dependence is nonmutual” or “partners' interests conflict.” Hence, the theory allows scientists to understand ...