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Title: The influence of familial involvement and cultural values on mate preferences and romantic relationships: what do today’s emerging adults in India and America want?
Authors: Bejanyan, Kathrine
Keywords: Parental influence;Love;Mate choice;Gender role;Collectivism
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: With increasing globalization, researchers are beginning to document the changing patterns of family life in collectivistic societies undergoing rapid economic development, such as India. With these changes, expectations of romantic relationships are also shifting as individuals re-calibrate their gender roles and attitudes towards romantic relationships to meet the challenges of modern society. Yet, not enough is known about the younger generation of collectivist youth and their evolving romantic habits and preferences. Therefore, the overarching goal of this thesis was to gain a more comprehensive understanding of cultural and familial influences in selecting a marital partner, maintaining a relationship, endorsing romantic beliefs, and anticipating future difficulties in marital life. In collectivist cultures, families tend to be characterized by respect for parental authority and strong, interdependent ties. Do these aspects of collectivism exert countervailing pressures on mate choices and relationship quality? In Study 1, I tested my predictions on a British sample by dividing participants into high or low collectivist groups based on their heritage cultural background, whereas in Study 2 I recruited participants from India and the United States. In both studies, I found that collectivism was associated with greater acceptance of parental influence over mate choice, thereby driving relationship commitment down, but collectivism was also associated with stronger family ties (referred to as family allocentrism), which drove commitment up (Study 2). Along similar lines, Study 1 found that collectivists’ greater acceptance of parental influence on mate choice contributed to their reduced relationship passion, whereas Study 2 found that their greater family allocentrism may have enhanced their passion. Study 2 also revealed that collectivists may have reported a smaller discrepancy between their own preferences for mates high in warmth and trustworthiness and their perception of their parents’ preferences for these qualities because of their stronger family allocentrism. However, their higher tolerance of parental V influence may have also contributed to a smaller discrepancy in their mate preferences versus their perceptions of their parents’ preferences for qualities signifying status and resources. Studies 3 and 4 moved away from familial dynamics and took a closer look at the cultural values of collectivism and gender role ideology. Previous studies have established that Indians tend to be greater in collectivism and gender role traditionalism than Americans. The purpose of Studies 3 and 4 was to examine whether these differences explained further cultural differences in romantic beliefs, traditional mate preferences, and anticipation of future difficulties in marital life. Results for both studies revealed that Indians reported greater collectivism than Americans and, in turn, held stronger romantic beliefs. Additionally, Indians’ greater collectivism, endorsement of more traditional gender roles and benevolent sexism in part predicted their preferences for a marital partner possessing traditional characteristics. Collectivism and gender role traditionalism accounted for Indians’ heightened concerns about encountering future difficulties in marital life in Study 3, while in Study 4 only collectivism explained these concerns. Overall, the results from these four studies shed light on the processes underlying cultural differences in relationship attitudes and preferences, and point to the need for greater cultural awareness and sensitivity to the diversity that exists in relationship functioning across societies.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University London
Appears in Collections:Psychology
Dept of Life Sciences Theses

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