A generic model of dyadic social relationships

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We introduce a model of dyadic social interactions and establish its correspondence with relational models theory (RMT), a theory of human social relationships. RMT posits four elementary models of relationships governing human interactions, singly or in combination: Communal Sharing, Authority Ranking, Equality Matching, and Market Pricing. To these are added the limiting cases of asocial and null interactions, whereby people do not coordinate with reference to any shared principle. Our model is rooted in the observation that each individual in a dyadic interaction can do either the same thing as the other individual, a different thing or nothing at all. To represent these three possibilities, we consider two individuals that can each act in one out of three ways toward the other: perform a social action X or Y, or alternatively do nothing. We demonstrate that the relationships generated by this model aggregate into six exhaustive and disjoint categories. We propose that four of these categories match the four relational models, while the remaining two correspond to the asocial and null interactions defined in RMT. We generalize our results to the presence of N social actions. We infer that the four relational models form an exhaustive set of all possible dyadic relationships based on social coordination. Hence, we contribute to RMT by offering an answer to the question of why there could exist just four relational models. In addition, we discuss how to use our representation to analyze data sets of dyadic social interactions, and how social actions may be valued and matched by the agents.




Favre, M., & Sornette, D. (2015). A generic model of dyadic social relationships. PLoS ONE, 10(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0120882

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