Relationships: Different cultures

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  • Created by: imanilara
  • Created on: 02-06-16 13:24


Psychology often criticised as ethnocentric- bias towards our own cultural group when defining what is normal or correct for everyone. It has historically been dominated by white middle class males in the USA and the findings have been generalised to people in general, as if culture makes no difference. 
Culture can be described by Herskovits (1995) - culture is the human made part of the environment- it is made by humans and causes them to behave in a certain way - interactive relationship w our behaviour. Within one culture can be many sub-cultures. 
3 major cultural syndromes: 
- Cultural complexity- complexity of the different roles that different members of the culture typically play. 
-Individualism vs collectivism: ones achievements are defined by ones personal choices or by those of the wider social group
-Tight vs loose cultures - tight cultures expect members to adhere to strict social norms whereas loose cultures have a higher tolerance to socially deviant behaviour. 

Cross-cultural research is useful: highlights assumptions, less likely to make errors when we look at bigger picture, helps establish greater reliability+external val. 

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Voluntary/ non-voluntary relationships

One type of rel that has been studied across different cultures is marriage and in particular arranged marriages vs marrying for love. 
-distinguishing feature of western cultures- live in urban settings, easy social mobility - daily basis we voluntarily interact w large number of people. Western relationships characterised by high degree of CHOICE. 
-non-western cultures- fewer large urbancentres, less social mobility+ therefore less choice about who they interact with. Interactions w strangers rare- relationships frequently tied to toehr factors- family acquaintance/economic gain. 


Gupta and Singh 1982- compared love and liking in 100 professional couples in India - half of the marriages were arranged, half were love marriages. Asked to complete love and liking scales after 1,5 and 10 yrs. Findings: love and liking started high but decreased in love marriages+ in arranged, started low, but exceeded levels in love marriages at 10yrs. 

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AO2 continued of arranged vs love marriages

Epstein 2002- societies w reduced mobility, arranged marriages make good sense - divorce rates low and in about half the spouses report that they have fallen in love. 

Myers et al (2005) individuals in India living in arranged marriages - no differences in marital satisfaction were found when compares to individuals in non-arranged marriages in the US- SELF REPORT

In some rapidly developing cultures eg China, notable increase in love matches ie a move away from tradiitonal arranged marriages. Parents dominating partner choice has fallen from 70% prior to 1949 to less than 10% in the 1990s. Effect on marital satisfaction- study of women in China- women who had married for love felt better about their marriages than women in arranged marriages (Xiaohe + Whyte 1990) 

Commentary- Singh and Gupta- used Rubin's liking and loving scale devised in the US - research tests on assumption that these things mean the same in different cultures. Issues of cultural bias in the imposed etic. Conducting research on marriage problematic- we assume it is an etic construct but it is in fact emic - differs! X+Y- doesnt reflect collectivist as china is rapidly developing! Men+women vs just women opinion- does identify a difference. self report.

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Continuity and discontinuity

Hsu (1953) described Chinese regard for heritage and ancestory and the suspicion with which change is generally viewed. On the other hand, USA emphasises change/progress as being important. Old fashioned things usually viewed w disdain. This cultural differences reflected in relationships- non-western cultures emphasise continuity = permanent relatinoships, western cultures emphasise change leading to more temporary relationships

western shift to more discontinuous is recent. 50yrs ago divorce was rare in the west, eg according to statistical office of european communities, British divorce rates for women = 2 per 1000 in 1960, rising to jusr over 12 per 1000 in 2007. Shift within western society which could be related to greater urbanisation/mobility- so maybe continuity is not to do w western/non-western culures, but in fact urban/non-urban. 

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Extras IDA and more AO2

Research in this area further complicated by the fact that some people from collectivist cultures move to indivdualist cultures- influenced by both home and new culture. Adds complexity and may give rise to different emotions to those 3rd gen indian immigrants in the uk. Research on young pakistani muslim women in Canad showed that most favoured love marriaged but felt their fathers would object. This leads to different attitudes within cultures - tells us that researchers in this area need to ensure research is up to date in order that cultural changes are reflected properly. 

May be impossible to study the breakdown of marriages in some cultures bc the relationship is conceived as a permanent- relationship is always maintained even if they split- big issues w external val and cross cultural comparisons bc of this. 

Ethics- psych harm- q's about the permanence of relationships, family pressure.. privacy and confidentiality important- personal issues- p's may not want family to know they hold diffrent opinions to the traditions/culture. SSR- significant societal implications- success of arranged vs love marriages. 

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