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Lecture 7

PSY424H1 Lecture 7: Notes

Course Code
Geoffrey Mac Donald

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Oct 19: Love, Tradition, + Family: Relationships Across Cultures
Culture: relatively organized system of shared meaning
o When everyone is like us, we do not realize the meaning of culture
o The more you have shared agreements, the more easier it is to develop + move the
relationship forward
o Most relationship studies are done in North American
What values differentiate cultures?
o Hofstede’s (1980) study of IBM service & marketing employees
took a values questionnaire + gave it to people in different cultures (had to also
make sure the terms and questions were equivalent across culture, so just gave it
to IBM employees)
criticism: the value questionnaire is regarding Western values (study was
replicated in by Chinese Culture Connection (1987, who changed the values +
confirmed ¾ Hofstede’s values found)
o 1. masculinity/femininity
emphasis on achievement vs. relationships/quality of life
is value placed on work or quality of life?
Japan most masculine (work/achievement orientation), Sweden most feminine
(quality of life, generous parental leave)
o 2. power distance
degree of respect + deference between superiors + subordinates
Malaysia highest (do not challenge their superiors), Austria lowest (more on
equal footing, can tell boss to shut his mouth)
o 3. individualism/collectivism (how you set up your self-concept)
defining identity by personal choices + achievements
value internal abilities, thoughts + feelings
being unique, expressing self (able to tell your thoughts + feelings) “I am
promoting own goals
being direct (about how you talk about things)
“I am kind”, “I am athletic”
defining identity by the groups to which one is attached (emphasize
connection to family)
belonging and fitting in
promoting others’ goals
being indirect (in communication, which helps the person maintain a
public persona)
more fluid, flexible, and context-dependent self that is bound to others
“I am kind to my family”, “I am athletic in soccer” create a fluid self
Does not mean people will be nice if you go there, means they are close
to their ingroup
US (and Canada) most individualist, Guatemala (central + south America) most
Love + marriage across cultures
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o love is universal
o what is expected from marriage is more culture specific
joining of 2 individuals vs. 2 families
west = 2 individuals forming a family of their own (so get to make their
own choices)
other parts of the world = joining 2 families together (so family has an
interest in who you are marrying)
love (personal gratification) may be subordinate to family obligations
collectivist cultures have more traditional dating norms + more conservative
sexual attitudes
in western culture, just do things that make you happy (ex. one-night
o individualism strongly related to requiring love for marriage (Levine et al., 1995)
Americans most require love, Indians least require love (before marriage)
o Americans less likely to believe love is needed to maintain marriage (Sprecher & Toro-
Morn 2002)
more endorsed by Chinese + Japanese
physical pleasure seen as more important by Americans (for maintaining
marriage) relative to China + Japan
Self-disclosure (Kito, 2005)
o individual expression may disrupt group harmony (since placing burden on another
Japanese + Americans self-disclose more to partners than friends
Americans self-disclose more to both
more formality (ie. less emotional) + sensitivity (consider other person’s
feelings) to others’ feelings in Japanese disclosures
o Chinese experience lower levels of romantic intimacy than Canadians (Marshall, 2008)
Since disclosing less which is a building block for intimacy
Emotional support (Burleson, 2003)
o comforting + ego support crucial in West
person centred support key (is an emotional way of communicating, “you must
feel terrible, you worked so hard, you valued them so much, tell me how you are
feeling” are validating them, creating open space for them to talk about their
o direct expression of emotion is less valued in East
may disrupt group harmony
o Chinese rate emotional support in friendships as important as Americans
o Americans value person centered support more
Even low person centered messages are seen as more supportive by Chinese
presence of others may imply support
Attachment (Wang & Mallinckrodt, 2006)
o detecting indirect messages facilitated by anxious attachment
preoccupied attachment most common in East Asia
o formality + distance facilitated by avoidant attachment
o * ideal attachment in Taiwan + US
Man fills out the questionnaire from the perspective of the ideal man in their
culture (and woman fills from perspective of the ideal woman in their culture)
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