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7 Balance Theory

7

Balance Theory

The main idea in balance theory (also known as consistency theory) is that maintaining a harmonious balance of sentiments is the implicit goal in interactions with other people (Heider, 1946, 1958; Newcomb, 1953, 1968). A major assumption of the theory is that people tend to organize their thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors in meaningful, sensible, and consistent ways (Heider, 1946; Osgood & Tannenbaum, 1955; Festinger, 1957; Zajonc, 1960).

According to the theory, people are aware of their surroundings and of the events that take place in their environment (their life space) through a process of perception. People are affected by their environment and cause changes in their environment. People have wants and sentiments with regard to others, have a sense of belonging with others, and hold others accountable to certain standards. All of this determines the roles that other people play in a person’s life space and how that individual reacts to other people (Heider, 1958).


  

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