The Global Measure of Equity Scale


Author of Tool: 

Traupmann, Peterson, Utne, & Hatfield

Key references: 

Hatfield, E., Rapson, R. L., & Aumer-Ryan, K. (2007). Equity Theory: Social justice in love relationships. Recent developments. Social Justice Research. New York: Springer.

Hatfield, E., Walster, G. W., & Berscheid, E. (1978). Equity: Theory and research. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Pillemer, J., Hatfield, E., & Sprecher, S. (2008). The importance of fairness and equity for the marital satisfaction of older women. Journal of Women and Aging, 20, 215-230.

Traupmann, J. (1978). Equity in intimate relations: An interview of marriage. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation. University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Traupmann, J., Peterson, R., Utne, M., & Hatfield, E. (1981). Measuring equity in intimate relations. Applied Psychological Measurement, 5, 467-480.
Walster, G. W. (1975).

Walster, et al. (1973) Equity formula: a correction. Representative Research in Social Psychology, 6, 65-67.

Primary use / Purpose: 

The Global Measure of Equity scale was designed to assess men’s and women’s perceptions of how fair and equitable their love and sexual relationships are (Traupmann, Peterson, Utne, & Hatfield, 1981; Walster, 1975.). On the Global Measure of Equity, men and women are asked to assess how fair and equitable they perceive their dating and marital relationships to be. Respondents indicate their judgments on a seven point Likert scale, with answers ranging from +3: I am getting a much better deal than my partner, to -3: My partner is getting a much better deal than I am. The Global Measure of Equity scale can be administered individually or in groups. It takes approximately one minute to administer.


According to Equity theory, people perceive a relationship as equitable when they and their partners are getting what they both “deserve” from their romantic and marital relationships. In theory, couples feel most comfortable when their romantic and sexual relationships are maximally profitable, and (considering what they and their partners contribute to their relationship) they are reaping all the rewards they deserve—no more and certainly no less (See Hatfield, Walster, & Berscheid, 1978). Equity has been found to relate to many aspects of relationships and appears to be important throughout a couple’s lifetime (Pillemer, Hatfield, & Sprecher, 2008). More recently, evolutionary theorists contend that concerns about equity have an enormous impact in the dating marketplace (Baumeister & Vohs, 2004).


Despite its brevity, the widely used Global Measure of Equity possesses reasonable reliability and has been used to study a variety of relationship types (see Canary & Stafford, 1992; Sprecher, 1986, 1988; Traupmann, 1978; Traupmann et al., 1981).
If the Equity scales are valid, they should be related to other variables in ways expected by past theoretical and empirical work. There is some evidence for such construct validity. The Global Measure correlates with other measures of fairness and equity in intimate relations. Sprecher (1986,1988), for example, found the Hatfield Global measure is positively and significantly correlated with the Sprecher Global Equity measure (correlations range from r=.45, to .52, p<.001), which was created to measure day-to-day equity. Sprecher (2001) also correlated a multi-faceted measure of equity to the Hatfield Global Measure (with r’s ranging from .43 to .73)



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