CULTURAL INFLUENCE IN RELATIONSHIPS

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  • Influence of culture
    • Voluntary vs. non-voluntary
      • Western cultures:  higher degree of social and geographical mobility, allowing frequent interactions with a large number of people = high degree of choice in romantic relationships
      • Non-western cultures: less social and geographical mobility, therefore people have less choice in who they interact with. Interactions with strangers are rare and relationships are often tied to other factors such as economic resources and family
      • Levine et al. did a cross-cultural study, involving participants from eleven different countries. Participants were asked if  they would marry someone who had all the qualities they desired, but whom they did not love. In Western countries such as the US only 14% of the participants agreed to the idea while in non-western countries, such as Thailand,  34% said they would. This suggests that they were already mentally prepared for an arranged marriage
    • Collectivist vs. individualistic
      • Western cultures focus more on the rights and freedom of the individuals. Non-western cultures on the other hand encourage interdependence rather than independent behaviour
      • Western: relationship based on freedom of choice       Non-western: relationship based on the concerns of the family
        • In China, parents' control over the choice of partner has declined from 70% t0 10% - due to the country development
      • Relationships based on love don't necessarily produce compatible partners as the individuals are 'blinded by love and' and overlook incompatible traits that become apparent later - parents have more experience to judge compatibility in the long-term
        • No marital dissatisfaction found between individuals living in India (arranged) and US (non-arranged)
        • Divorce rate is low in areas with majority of arranged marriages and half of them claim to be in love
        • Women who had a love marriage felt better about their marriage compared to women who were in an arranged marriage
    • Historical bias: much of the research has been done years ago, but non-western countries such as China and India have developed and there has been an increase in voluntary relationships in these countries, despised the fact they're seen as collectivist, cultural countries
    • Methodological issues: research into this area may be limited by the research method applied. If any aspect of methodology is interpreted differently in one culture than in another, then this creates cultural bias
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