A2 - Psychology - Cultural variations in relationships

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  • Created by: jkav
  • Created on: 15-12-15 14:26

Western and non-western relationships - Descriptio

Western and non-western relationships - Description

Voluntary or non-voluntary relationships

  • Western culture is typified by mobility offering many relationship possibilities.
  • In non-western cultures relationship choice may be limited by meeting fewer people and family ties.

Individual or group-based relationships

  • Western individualist cuture values each person's independent rights and freedom.
  • Collectivist cultures (e.g. China) value interdependence, i.e. group goals.
  • Individualist cultures therefore stress the individuals choice in relationships. Collectivist cultures consider the needs of the family or group.
  • Moore and Leung found that fewer Chinese-Australian students (with a collectivist responsibility to the family) were in romantic relationships, than Anglo-Australians, as expected, but that both groups valued romantic love.
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Western and non-western relationships - Descriptio

Western and non-western relationships

Continuity and discontinuity

  • American culture emphasies progress, therefore change, (discontinuity) is acceptable whereas Chinese culture values continuity (e.g. hertiage).
  • Non-western relationships therefore more permanent, Western ones more temporary.

Norms and rules

  • Ting-Toorney found reciprocity in personal relationships was voluntary in individualist cultures but expected in collectivist ones, e.g. moral obligations to return favours.
  • Rules may be explicit (e.g. in marriage) or implicit (e.g. in friendships).
  • There are similarities between cultures, e.g. in rules about showing courtesy and respect and differences, e.g. in rules about close friendships (Argyle et al). 
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Western and non-western relationships - Evaluation

Western and non-western relationships - Evaluation

Voluntary or non-voluntary relationships

  • Non-voluntary (arranged) marriages make sense in societies with low mobility.
  • Divorce rates are low in such marriages and Epstein reports that about half of the partners in such marriages are in love.
  • Myers et al found no difference in martial satisfaction between those in arranged marriages in India and non-arranged in the USA.
  • In China, the parental role in partner choice has declined. Xiaohe and White found that Chinese women who had married for love felt better about their relationship than women in arranged marriages.
  • Jankowiak and Fischer identified romantic love in 90% of 166 cultures studied and Bartels and Zeki claim to have found an active brain area in people who are in love.

Individual or group-based relationships

  • There may be relationship benefits to either choices based on love or on the objective position of parental judgements of long-term compatibility - although this isn't supported by Xiaohe and White's findings.
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Western and non-western relationships - Evaluation

Western and non-western relationships - Evaluation

Continuity and discontinuity

  • The rise in divorce rates and reduction in extended family groups in the West may be more closely linked to urbanisation than to individualism.

Norms and rules

  • Argyle et al failed to support some predictions about cultural differences (e.g. about formal gift exchange in Japan). However, as the list of rules used was formulated in the UK it may not have included culture-specific rules for Japan.
  • Such research can help promote effective relations between cultural groups.
  • The differences in cultural expectations can bias research but culture itself is important to relationships in multicultural societies so is important to study.
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