The theory of relational cohesion: Review of a research program research program

Shane R. Thye, Jeongkoo Yoon, Edward J. Lawler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

45 Scopus citations


In this paper we analyze and review the theory of relational cohesion and attendant program of research. Since the early 1990s, the theory has evolved to answer a number of basic questions regarding cohesion and commitment in social exchange relations. Drawing from the sociology of emotion and modern theories of social identity, the theory asserts that joint activity in the form of frequent exchange unleashes positive emotions and perceptions of relational cohesion. In turn, relational cohesion is predicted to be the primary cause of commitment behavior in a range of situations. Here we outline the theory of relational cohesion, tracing its development through the present day, and summarize the corpus of empirical evidence for the theory's claims. We conclude by looking ahead to future projects and discussing some of the more general issues informed by our work.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Group Processes
PublisherJAI Press
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)0762308982, 9780762308989
StatePublished - 2002

Publication series

NameAdvances in Group Processes
ISSN (Print)0882-6145


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