Success Proposition

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In formulating his behavioural-exchange theory, George Homans (Social Behaviour: Its Elementary Forms, 1974) argued that social structures could be analysed as a series of social exchanges between individuals, exchanging material and non-material goods according to five interrelated principles (or propositional statements) borrowed largely from Skinnerian psychology. These stated that: ‘For all actions taken by persons, the more often a particular action of a person is rewarded, the more likely the person is to perform that action’ (the Success Proposition); ‘If in the past the occurrence of a particular stimuli, or set of stimuli, has been the occasion on which a person's action has been rewarded, then the more similar the present stimuli are to the past ones, the more likely the person is to perform the action, or some similar action, now’ (the Stimulus Proposition); ‘The more valuable to a person is the result of his action, the more likely he is to perform the action’ (the Value Proposition); ‘The more often in the recent past a person has received a particular reward, the less valuable any further unity of that reward becomes for him’ (the Deprivation-Satiation Proposition); and, finally, ‘When a person's action does not receive the reward he expected, or receives punishment he did not expect, he will become angry; he becomes more likely to perform aggressive behaviour, and the results of such behaviour become more valuable to him…When a person's action receives reward he expected, especially a greater reward than he expected, or does not receive punishment he expected, he will be pleased; he becomes more likely to perform approving behaviour, and the results of such behaviour become more valuable to him’ (the Aggression-Approval Proposition). See also ratonal choice theory.

Subjects: Sociology.

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