It will be recalled from Chapter 1 that the ability to obtain and provide rewards features prominently in attempts to define interpersonal skill. Deficits in this respect can have negative personal and interpersonal consequences. Reviews of the area have shown correlations between interpersonal skill deficits, inability to gain positive reinforcement and poor psychological well-being (Segrin et al., 2007; Segrin and Taylor, 2007). Interpersonal inadequacy also seems to be associated with loneliness and social anxiety. Having the potential to reward (i.e. rewardingness) is a key dimension of interaction that plays a central role in friendship formation and personal attraction (Foley and Duck, 2006; Smith and Mackie, 2007). Faraone and Hurtig (1985) examined what those regarded as highly socially skilled actually did compared to their low social skill counterparts when in conversation with a stranger of the opposite sex. The highly skilled were more rewarding in the way in which they reduced uncertainty, and therefore possible unease in the situation, and were more positive towards the other through what was said and topics introduced. Rewards in social situations serve ‘to keep others in the relationship, to increase the other’s attraction to ego, and to
Box 4.1 Everyday examples of reinforcement
• An infant makes its first attempt at the word ‘Mummy’ and the adoring mother responds with enraptured smiles, hugs and kisses.