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Relationships, Sheet 6 08.04.2014
Discuss the nature of relationships in
different cultures (24 marks)
Psychologists have discovered important If the evolutionary theory of relationships is
differences between Western cultures correct, then we would expect the need for
such as the US and UK and nonwestern romantic love to be universal but research
cultures such as India and China. These has shown that there are cultural
differences occur between: romantic differences.
love, arranged marriages, marriage
satisfaction and divorce.
Moghaddam et al: Relationships in Most of the research is conducted by
Western cultures tend to be Western psychologists, so the research
individualistic, voluntary and temporary, could be accused of being ethnocentric,
whereas relationships in nonwestern and we will not know the true differences
cultures are collectivist, involuntary and unless more research is conducted by
permanent. collectivist cultures.
Romantic love: However, in a similar study Allgiert et al:
Kephart et al: asked participants whether asked American, Japanese and Russian
they'd marry someone they weren't in participants the same question and found
love with. They found that twice as many that Japanese students were as reluctant to
American men said `no' as women. marry someone they didn't love as
Levine et al: found that in India, 49% said Americans, whereas Russians were less
yes, whereas in the US, only 3.5% said concerned with romantic love. This shows
yes. that there may be differences within the
same cultures. However, America versus
Japan may be too simplistic as each
culture is likely to have distinct views on all
aspects of relationships.
Arranged marriages: Marriage choices Goodwin et al: found that only 7% of Hindu
often made by the families on the basis Gujarati couples living in Leicester had
of alliances and economic completely `arranged' marriages. 73% of
considerations. these couples were introduced by a 3rd
Iwao: found that almost 25% of party and most had considerable choice
marriages are arranged. about when they wanted to get married.
Marriage satisfaction: The sample size for this study was relatively
Myer et al: asked 45 people living in small so it cannot be generalisable to the
India in arranged marriages to complete entire target population. Because of the
a marital satisfaction questionnaire. After fact that this is a questionnaire, there may
comparing responses to U.S. responses, be possible social desirability bias' as
no significant differences were found in respondents might want to portray
satisfaction levels. themselves in a positive light instead of
saying the truth, which also lacks validity.
Divorce: In Western cultures, divorce has However, the rising divorce rate in China
become more accepted. Betzig: studied does not fit this view.
divorce in 160 countries. They found that Huang: suggests that urbanisation and
the most common grounds for divorce changing cultural norms explain this rise.
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Relationships, Sheet 6 08.04.2014
were infidelity, sterility and maltreatment. Western media and the education of
This shows that even between women have led to independence and
individualistic and collectivist cultures, choice in leaving abusive/unacceptable
there are similarities. relationships. However, we ought to bear in
Research shows that collectivist cultures mind that the shift in more nonpermanent
have a lower divorce rate (4% in China, relationships in the West is very recent.
as there is still a stigma attached).…read more