This article briefly reviews 10 years of research on a distinction between communal and exchange norms. Communal norms dictate benefits should be given in response to the other's needs. Exchange norms dictate benefits should be given in response to specific benefits received in the past or with the expectation of receiving specific benefits in the future.
Choice of norms is shown to be influenced by the type of relationship desired or existing between two people. Evidence of chronic individual differences in tendencies to follow communal and to follow exchange norms in relationships dating rel exchange also presented. We argue that most people believe that communal norms should be followed in family relationships and we outline implications of the research reviewed for understanding justice in the family.
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