Cognitive Valence Theory

Cognitive Valence Theory

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Cognitive Valence Theory

One thing that no one can avoid is socializing with other people. The world was created so that people will have to live with one another at one point in life, identical to all other living things, including animals. Frankly, a man-to-man relationship is known as one of the most complicated types of relationships, as people have to tolerate each other’s traits, whether bad or good, to survive. Living with one another involves a special kind of intimacy, which is explained by cognitive valence theory. This theory explains the type of intimacy between different relationships, defined by blood, marriage, or general friendships.

Relationships discussed in this type of theory may include family relationships, which provides for can be described as the mother-father-to-child relationship. There are extended parties in this relationship, where grandparents, uncles, and other close people fall under this category. The other connection is a colleague-to-colleague relationship, which happens to be the closest one as most workmates spend most of their time together (Schunk, Ellen, 25). Unfortunately, most working-class society pays most of the day at work, only to return a few hours home. Married people are another example of a relationship where two people mutually agree to stay together for the rest of their lives. Marriage is one of the most complex types of association, as it involves vows and other agreements.

Cognitive valence theory explains how such relationships should be maintained by giving a thorough explanation of how this kind of theory relates to the real world and what is happening today (Kim, 99). When people connect, some problems may arise whereby both parties might end up arguing or misunderstanding. Intimacy, in this case, is divided into two, where cognitive valence proves that people’s actions against one another determine how long or strong the relationship might be (Altmann, 192). The first category of intimacy is the positive one. Each of the relating parties agrees with one another, is at peace, and each other’s actions do not hinder the other party in any way.

The second type of intimacy is the negative one, where a friend feels disconnected, and everything the other partner does is not pleasing to them. It is also referred to as the distant project, where one or both of the parties in a relationship feel disconnected from one another and no longer feel close to the other person. Closeness in this matter happens to be the critical measure of how people relate to one another. Individuals believe that one has to be close to one another to prove that the relationship is going well (Beck, 16).

Affection and intimacy are also closely related to the type of relationship one will have with one another. People believe that the relationship bond is usually strengthened by focusing on promoting positive valence in a relationship. The actions that each partner has on one another determine the relationship the two will have, hence proving that society focuses on what people do in judging the strength of intimacy people have. If one cares for one another, people tend to believe that the individuals should ensure that they do all it takes to keep the relationship solid and intact. Below is a case that happened to me in a university that explained the real meaning of cognitive valence and how its relevance affected decisions made by people involved in the scenario.

Personal Story Text

Being black in a white-dominated school was not easy for me. Since childhood, I have watched other children play together, living with a few black friends and me playing on our playgrounds due to our complexion. After high school, I thought my struggle was over and that I could meet new students who could love and accommodate me for who I was. Things turned out opposite as I found myself in a class of thirty students; among them, I was the only black one.

The first week in the university felt like hell to me as I was lonely. I had managed to make two white friends, who were still afraid of socializing with me due to fear of their colleagues (Shuman et al. 261). I faced rejection in discussion groups, lecture halls, and other gatherings where no one bothered to talk to me until I met a childhood friend from nowhere in the school. Mike was one of my childhood friends, a white boy who grew up in a black neighborhood; he knew me pretty well. I explained to him how the supervisors mistreated me, ignored me in the class, and did other injustices, and he was very sorry for me.

At last, I was happy I had someone I could trust and talk to in the white denominated school, which gave me no chance to learn peacefully. Mike made it a habit of visiting me every day, and sometimes he almost got into fights trying to protect me from bullying until we graduated from school. After three years, I was happy to move out of the university, with a lesson learned the hard way. Up to date, Mike and I are still good friends, and I always remind and thank him for the sacrifices he made for me despite being white. I always prefer our friendship as a special one, as it defines what a friend should do for one another (Palmer, Karen, 8881). Our interpersonal relation with Mike, the white students, and the administration was based on several guidelines that defined our type of relationship with one another in the university.

According to cognitive valence, culture is one of the guidelines or ideas that define a person’s kind of relationship with one another. Culture, in this case, can be defined as the way people behave, the environment they are in, the beliefs or other norms that govern the society they live. In my case, the culture of the people at the university did not allow people from other races, or instead, the administration was not happy about the issue (Kim, 110). The people in the area behaved in a pattern which explained clearly that they had not planned for any visitors or intruders in their school.

Education is an art. Having a school dominated by one race means that the people in the area embraced education as the simplest form of skill in the region, where they opened schools for their children only. Education being an artist means that it was a flexible form of culture, where people had accepted that changes might occur in the future. Discriminating the black students was a sign of a lack of essential values in society. The children’s behavior was uncontrollable hence proving that these students had not been grown up with the needed values in the community.

My personal goal was to complete my studies and pass them well, just like any other scholar. The other students had the same motive, but their culture did not allow them to act humbly as they felt black domination in their school was intruding on their peace. Some of the practices that they did were not always pleasing. They mocked me, participated in rallies that advocated the ban of all black students in the school. They were ready to do such practices as they felt their culture was intruded on and that they had to protect it (Anderson, 64).


Personalities also differ according to the way a person grew up, the environment, and the individual’s teachings since childhood (Altman, 192). Most of the white classmates had arrogance which had been introduced by how they found their culture. They grew up in a place where some races were not welcome, thus decided to be harsh on them. Their emotions towards blacks are not suitable as they hate them. On the other hand, Mike displayed a different kind of personality, although he was white. He had an accommodating heart, he understood and respected me just like an ordinary human being, and that made him exclusively different from his colleagues. His emotions and feelings were purely good towards other people, as he never supported the idea of discrimination.

The cognitive theory argues that one should, first of all, consider their personality. Honestly, you cannot expect to be treated well when you are not treating other people well. Since I was a child, I was raised with other kids; my parents encouraged me to teamwork and have productive friends (Oatley, Philip, 134). Neglecting me and letting me live my own life affected me somehow, as I thought I would be of help discussing with the rest of the class. Again, it emphasizes that people should learn that not all personalities match with one another.

In this story, personalities differentiate the kind of relationship I had in the school. To begin with, the white students’ attitude towards me made our relationship poor and non-existent, while Mike ensured that we were still close friends, and he respected that. Our friendship helped me a lot as he decided to abide by the promises we had made to each other when we were kids and went against his fellow whites in bullying me (Shuman et al. 261). This idea confirms that cognitive valence speaks the truth about the effect of personalities on intimacy and bonds, where the theory suggests that the policy affects friendships ties a lot.

Interpersonal Valence

One of my happiest days at the university was the moment when I met Mike. I had completely lost hope in making friends in school until the day we met. I felt relieved, revived, and back to normal for seeing him. I had faced a total rejection by the people I was supposed to spend the next three years with, hence meeting an old friend with whom I was sure he could accommodate me was the most pleasant feeling ever. Interpersonal valence in this theory means the feeling of getting back to normal after a period of either failure or denial by close friends (Schunk, Ellen, 22). This feeling strengthens the friendship ties even more, as people remember how much they should be there for each other and act on it.

Interpersonal valence can also be defined as the turning point of a dying relationship or bond. An individual may decide to come out clear to another partner about their fate in the period of giving up. If the message is acceptable, this sudden change of mood and emotion may also be called interpersonal valence, where individuals enjoy the team up but in a secret way. That outward feeling of happiness that an individual expresses after such situations also determines if both parties will make peace or there will still be a grudge.


My communication with other students in the class and the university was relatively poor. Some of the supervisors supported chasing away the blacks; hence communicating with them was a bit hard for someone like me. The state between the people around me and me was not suitable, as the only person whom we spoke well and related with was Mike. The theory of cognitive valence argues that when the state of the situation is terrible, communication becomes a problem; hence most of the activities cannot be carried out like usual (Palmer, Karen, 8879). In my case, I was on bad terms with almost everyone around me, thus confirming that I could not get important information from some people.

Cognitive valence says that communication is the essential thing in everything we do. Without proper communication, trust is completely lost between the parties, and the first problem comes in there. This theory states that communication has to flow well between parties that have a relationship to maintain respect and bond with one another (Beck, 15).


To begin with Mike, my relationship with him began when we were young; hence, I always referred to it as vital. He proved correct when he chose to oppose his fellow whites’ for the sake of our friendship. Despite all the challenges we had, our bond remained strong, meaning that the kind of relationship we had was honest and promising (Beck, 6). The classmates, on the other hand, had made me look like an outcast in the class, where they neglected me in almost every activity they did. My relationship with them was not generally okay; thus, I can term it as weak. According to the theory of cognitive valence, for intimacy to be intense, the relationship should also be rigid enough.

This theory explains how relationships are influenced and affected by different issues due to personal feelings, environment, or other actors. How a person relates with one another precisely defines how one feels about them, confirming that relationships are closely linked with peace and more vital bonds in intimacy. Unlike other requirements in intimacy and closeness, the relationship tends to be a little different (Anderson, 65). Being unwanted in the society may lead to negativity in the actions taken by both parties hence

Valence violations

According to this theory, valence violations can be termed as the measure of negativity or positivity from an expected source of information (Kim, 99). In this case, negative valence is considered the types of friendships that people create and end up losing due to mixed choices and misunderstandings. On the other hand, positive valence can be defined as superficial friendships, which are started by willing parties and end up lasting for a more extended period. The theory also clarifies the importance of positive valence, whereby the extent to which positivity occurs determines the outcomes of a relationship.

Again, valence violations explain the importance of the six guidelines, which generally define the meaning of cognitive valence theory (Altman, 192). Some of the guidelines that describe the theory are culture, which was discussed in this paper earlier, art representing the skills that the people have, values that guide them in their daily lives, goals that lead them in decision-making, and practices that take place in their community. The idea of valence violations explains what might happen to people in a relationship or intimacy if they fail to observe any of the guidelines.Works Cited

Altmann, Ulrike, et al. “The power of emotional valence—from cognitive to affective processes in reading.” Frontiers in human neuroscience 6 (2012): 192.

Andersen, Peter A. “The cognitive valence theory of intimate communication.” Progress in communication sciences (1998): 39-72.

Beck, Aaron T., and Emily AP Haigh. “Advances in cognitive theory and therapy: The generic cognitive model.” Annual review of clinical psychology 10 (2014): 1-24.

Kim, Young “Sally. “Application of the cognitive dissonance theory to the service industry.” Services Marketing Quarterly 32.2 (2011): 96-112.

Oatley, Keith, and Philip N. Johnson-Laird. “Cognitive approaches to emotions.” Trends in cognitive sciences 18.3 (2014): 134-140.

Palmer, Stephen E., and Karen B. Schloss. “An ecological valence theory of human color preference.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107.19 (2010): 8877-8882.

Schunk, Dale H., and Ellen L. Usher. “Social cognitive theory and motivation.” The Oxford handbook of human motivation (2012): 13-27.

Shuman, Vera, David Sander, and Klaus R. Scherer. “Levels of valence.” Frontiers in Psychology 4 (2013): 261.