Voluntary or non-voluntary relationships
- Western cultures live in urban settings with easy geographical and social mobility - easy to form relationships because we can see people more often and meet new people.
- Western cultures have a high degree of choice in their relationships because we interact with a large amount of people every day.
- Non-western cultures are the opposite so have less choice about who they interact with and how many people they interact with.
- Non-western cultures rarely interact with strangers and the relationships they do form are tied to other factors such as family or economic resources.
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Individual or group based relationships
- Western cultures are individualistic as they place importance on the rights of the individual rather than the group. For example the culture focuses on one person in the relationship and their happiness.
- Individualistic cultures are consistent with the formation of relationships where freedom of choice is important.
- Non-western cultures are collectivist and the people within the culture are encouraged to be interdependent.
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Continuity and discontinuity
- In Western cultures emphasise change and discontinuity - this means that temporary relationships are more common.
- Non-Western cultures emphasise continuity - dominated by more permanent relationships.
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- Norms - what's considered appropriate behaviour in a particular relationship.
- They act as guidelines for our behaviour and influence how we behave in any of our relationships.
- An example of a norm in relationships is "returning a favour" to put it simply.
- Ting-Toomey (1986) found that in individualistic cultures "returning the favour" in personal relationships tends to be voluntary whereas in collectivist cultures it seems to be obligatory to "return the favour". If the individual does not "return the favour" then it is seens as failure on their part.
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