Discuss the influence
of culture on
There are many theories explaining the influence
of culture on romantic relationships such as
voluntary vs. involuntary. Western cultures place
more emphasis on ‘I’, as in the individual’s needs.
Whereas, non-western cultures place more
emphasis on ‘we’, as in the greater good of the
One main difference in how people meet each other is their culture. In
individualistic cultures marriages are based on choice and falling in romantic love
with one another. On a daily basis we interact with a large number of people who
we make acquaintances with. Therefore, we have a higher degree of personal
relationships, so a greater ‘pool’ of potential relationships. Therefore, lots of
comparison levels and comparison levels of alternative meaning constant choice.
In most collectivist cultures marriages tend to be arrange rather than based on
romantic love. They have less chance to interact with people, they have fewer
urban areas meaning they don’t interact as often as western cultures do.
Therefore, no comparison levels. In the western world people meet, fall in love
and then decided whether to get married or not. However, within collectivist
cultures there is a traditional system of mate selection by arranged marriage.
Qureshi identified 3 types of arranged marriages. Firstly,
R2S- Gupta and Singh found that in India, marriages based on choice
reported ‘diminished feelings’ of love after 5 years. Whereas, in
arranged marriages there were reports of increasing love. This
suggests that involuntary relationships last longer and are more
successful than voluntary relationships.
Research to support culture affecting the type of relationship
formation comes from Goodwin. From a study done in
Leicester on 70 Hindu couples, only 8% claimed they had an
arranged marriage. This shows that they had become
‘westernized’ and the western ‘style’ of choosing a partner had
IDA - To evaluate, the study has a low sample size of 70 couples. This gives the study
low population validity, which decreases external validity, therefore we are
unable to generalise the findings of the study to the rest of the target population
when looking at how different cultures influence the selection of partners.
To evaluate, the study carries a sample bias. This is because it only uses Hindu
couples, who are only from one religion. Therefore, we are unable to generalise
the findings of the study to other religions when looking how cultures influence
the selection of a partner as different cultures will likely select partners
A big influence of culture on romantic relationships is
relationship formation about whether people marry for love
or not. Wiederman asked US college students if they would
marry someone who was ‘perfect’ for them but that they
didn’t love them. He found that 14% males said yes compared
to 9% females. However, Levine et al found that only in
traditional collectivist cultures such as Thailand, India and
Pakistan students were willing to marry someone they didn’t
love. This shows support for differences in culture, as western
cultures marry for love. Whereas non-western cultures
consider needs of the family as love is seen as a luxury.
Myers et al asked 45 individuals (22 couples and 1 widow) living
in India arranged marriages to complete a questionnaire on
marital selection. Compared to the US there was no difference
found in marital selection, but there were cultural differences in
criteria for defining a successful marriage. For example, the US
gave more importance to love than India. Therefore, this
supports the idea that cultures influence romantic relationships.
Epstein also carried out research into arranged marriages. He found
that they make more sense for the lack of urbanization as they meet
fewer ‘alternatives’. They have fewer divorce rates and they do fall in
love. However, divorce may be seen as immoral meaning that
relationships only last longer so that people don’t have to carry the