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Investment Model

 

Explanations > Theories > Investment Model

Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

Our commitment to a relationship depends on how satisfied we are about:

  • Rewards and costs and what we see as a fair balance.
  • A comparison with potential alternative relationships
  • How much we have already invested in the relationship.

Investments can be financial (like a house), temporal (such as time spend together) or emotional (such as in the welfare of the children). Investments can thus has a ‘sunk cost’ effect, where a person stays in a relationship simply because they have already invested significantly in it.

Research

Rusbult tracked relationships of college students. Their satisfaction and investment were key predictors staying in the relationship, with availability of alternatives as a trigger for getting out.

Example

Cults often have a sequence of 'inner circles', each of which requires increasing investment. To get through these doors cult members have to donate their worldly wealth, go through bizarre rituals, learn lengthy texts, and so on.   

So what?

Using it

To keep a person in a relationship, get them to invest heavily in it.

Defending

If you are unhappy with a relationship, remember that the past is past. Look to the future and what you can get there rather than what you have spent and can never retrieve. All you have is the rest of your life.

See also

Involvement, Justification of Effort, Social Exchange Theory, Investment, Representativeness Heuristic, Sunk-Cost Effect

References

Rusbult (1980, 1983)

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