Discuss the influence of culture on romantic relationships

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Discuss the influence of culture on romantic relationships

A feature of westernised culture is the urban environment, which has easy geographical and social mobility. This influences voluntary relationships, where there is a large choice of partners and fewer restrictions. In this sense, there may be an illusion of free will, with people thinking they have more choice. In reality they are limited by personal characteristics as well as by the chances of meeting someone they find attractive. On the other hand, non western cultures have fewer large urban centres so they interact with less people on a daily basis. Therefore relationships are linked to factors such as family or economic resources, because of fewer options for partners, where arranged marriage is likely to occur.

In societies with reduced mobility (e.g. India) arranged marriages make good sense and seem to work well. Females from professional and non professional backgrounds were found to be happy with both love and arranged marriages as long as their parent’s approved, emphasising the importance of family Batabyal (1992). Divorce rates are low and half of the spouses in arranged marriages fell in love with each other as Epstein found out in 2005. There was no difference in marital satisfaction when compared to individuals in non-arranged marriage in the US with arranged marriages in India. Myers et al studied both love marriages in the US and arranged marriages in India.

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However, in some developing western cultures, such as China, there has been an increase in ‘love matches’. Parents are no longer dominant and the effect that this had on marital satisfaction was found by Xiahoe et al in 1990. They said that women who were voluntary married felt better than those with arranged marriage.

There is a limitation with this cultural influence. Cultural bias may occur, when etic constructs are assumed to be emic. For example, lack of equality is rarely the cause of relationship dissatisfaction in collectivist culture, though a western researcher may assume this to be a ...

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