What Is Social Transaction Theory?


Jane Flores

What Is Social Transaction Theory?

Social transaction theory is a psychological concept that explores the interactions and exchanges between individuals in a social setting. It focuses on how people engage with each other, exchange information, and influence one another’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

This theory provides valuable insights into the dynamics of social interactions and helps us understand the complex nature of human relationships.

The Foundations of Social Transaction Theory

Social transaction theory was developed by American psychologist George Herbert Mead in the early 20th century. Mead believed that social interactions shape an individual’s self-concept and identity.

He posited that individuals construct their sense of self through communication with others.

According to Mead, social transactions occur through symbolic interactionism, where individuals communicate using symbols such as words, gestures, and facial expressions. These symbols carry shared meanings within a particular social group or culture.

Key Concepts of Social Transaction Theory

1. Role-Taking

Role-taking is a fundamental concept in social transaction theory. It refers to the process of imagining oneself in someone else’s position to understand their perspective and behavior.

Through role-taking, individuals gain insight into how their actions may impact others and adjust their behavior accordingly.

2. Self-Concept

The self-concept is an individual’s perception of themselves based on internalizing external feedback from others. According to social transaction theory, our self-concept develops through interactions with significant others – people who have a direct influence on our lives, such as family members or close friends.

Mead argued that individuals develop a generalized other – an internalized sense of societal norms and expectations – which guides their behavior in various social contexts.

3. Mind and Self

Mead proposed that the mind and self are interrelated. The mind represents an individual’s ability to take the perspective of others, while the self is the aspect of one’s identity influenced by social interactions.

The mind allows individuals to predict and interpret others’ behavior, enabling effective communication and social engagement. The self, on the other hand, reflects an individual’s understanding of themselves in relation to others.

Applications of Social Transaction Theory

Social transaction theory has numerous applications in various fields, including psychology, sociology, education, and business. Here are a few examples:

  • Psychology: Social transaction theory helps psychologists understand how social interactions impact mental health and well-being.
  • Sociology: This theory aids sociologists in studying group dynamics, societal norms, and cultural practices.
  • Education: Educators can use social transaction theory to enhance student engagement and promote collaborative learning.
  • Business: Understanding social transactions can help businesses improve customer satisfaction, team dynamics, and organizational culture.

In Conclusion

Social transaction theory offers valuable insights into how individuals interact with each other within a social context. By understanding the role of symbols, role-taking, self-concept development, and the interplay between mind and self, we gain a deeper understanding of human relationships.

This theory finds applications across various domains and provides a framework for understanding complex social dynamics. Incorporating social transaction theory into our lives can enhance our communication skills, empathy towards others’ perspectives, and overall well-being.