The Psychology of Everyday Life:Love, Marriage, and the Baby Carriage


Do approaches to marriage vary across cultures?

The distinction between collectivist cultures and individualistic cultures is frequently made in cross-cultural studies. In collectivist cultures, found in many Asian countries such as Korea, India, and China, an individual’s identity is tied to his or her social group. In individualistic countries, such as the United States, Canada, and Australia, the individual’s independent identity is prioritized. People from collectivist cultures expect love to grow as the marriage unfolds over time. When choosing a spouse, there is less emphasis on romance and infatuation. Instead, people emphasize practical concerns, such as income potential, parenting ability, and compatibility with the extended family. In contrast, people from individualist countries emphasize the passionate side of love when looking for a spouse. They focus on feelings of excitement and physical attraction. Using Sternberg’s triangular theory of love, Ge Gao measured the role of intimacy, passion, and commitment in ninety Chinese and seventy-seven American couples in a 2001 study. Ratings of passion were higher in American than Chinese couples, but ratings of intimacy and commitment did not differ. People from individualist countries also tend to have fewer children and a higher divorce rate.


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