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Relational cohesion is a testable theory that explains how a network of social exchange produces more cohesion and commitment in some relations than in others. Cohesion and commitment develop in particular relations because exchanging valued outcomes with others produces emotions—that is, individuals feel good or feel bad as a result. If the exchange is successful, they feel good (e.g., pleased, satisfied, enthused, excited); if it is unsuccessful, they feel bad (e.g., sad, depressed, dissatisfied). The theory of relational cohesion specifies the conditions under which individuals associate these emotions with their relationship or group affiliation. Positive emotions from exchange thereby strengthen relations, whereas negative emotions weaken relations. The theory was formulated and tested by Edward J. Lawler and his colleagues, Jeongkoo Yoon and Shane Thye. It ...

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