Complete this relationship attitudes survey. Discuss your reactions:
If a woman/man had all of the other qualities I desired, I would marry this person even if I was not in love with him/her.
If love has completely disappeared from a marriage, I think it is probably best for the couple to make a clean break and start new lives.
In my opinion, the disappearance of love is not sufficient reason for ending a marriage and should not be viewed as such.
How are your attitudes in/congruent with your culture? Is there another culture from which they are significantly different?
readings to help
Many physical features that people find attractive in others are common across a number of cultures. People in all cultures seem to be attracted to clear complexions, bilateral symmetry, and average features. However, there is considerable cultural variation in what is perceived to be an attractive body, particularly, an attractive female body.
The current Western ideal of thinness was not prevalent in the West even a generation ago, and in many cultures, heavier bodies are preferred. It is likely that people universally are attracted to those with whom they interact a lot. However, the well-researched finding that people are attracted to others who are similar to themselves does not generalize to the same degree in all cultures. As people are a social species, relationships tend to be very important to them, regardless of what culture they come from. Despite the universal importance of relationships, however, there is a great deal of cultural variability in the ways people relate to others.
There are important cultural differences in how people conceive of friends and enemies. In West African cultural contexts, people view relationships as existing naturally, often without any effort by the individuals involved to pursue that relationship, and even when the basis of the relationship is not positive. In contrast, members of Western cultures appear to view some kinds of relationships as not existing unless people decide to make the effort to pursue them. These efforts seem to hinge on whether people think the relationship will be rewarding in some way. As evidence of this reasoning, West Africans view friendships as entailing costs, and obligations are an important part of friendships; because of the heavy demands friendship can place on them, they are more cautious toward friends in general than are people from Western cultures. Moreover, West Africans are more likely than Westerners to view enemies as a natural part of their relationships.
The experience of romantic love appears to be found in all cultures, yet it plays a different role in marriages across cultures. In many current and historical cultures, marriages are arranged, and the relationship begins without much in the way of romantic love. In contrast, the norm in many other cultures is that members of a couple should love each other before they consider getting married. Cultures that have extended family systems are more likely to rely on arranged marriage systems than cultures with more nuclear family structures.
Much of human life occurs in the context of groups and there are some important cultural differences in how life in groups varies. For example, people from interdependent cultures make a clearer distinction, between in- and out-group members. Also, the basis of in-group identification varies as well. Japanese are more likely to view in-groups in terms of a network model whereas Americans generally base in-group relations on a shared identity.
Although cultures vary in many ways with respect to their relationships, there appear to be four universal basic elements by which relationships can be understood. All relationships appear to consist of one or more of the following elements: communal sharing, authority ranking, equality matching, and market pricing. These basic elements can be combined to form the universe of possible human relations. However, even though these four basic elements are common everywhere, different cultures emphasize some more than others. The presence of other people appears to lead universally to social facilitation, in which people perform well-learned tasks better, and poorly- learned tasks worse when in the presence of others than when they are alone. The phenomenon of social loafing – people engaged in a group task do not try as hard when their individual contributions are not monitored – varies considerably across cultures in more collectivistic cultures there is less evidence of social loafing and sometimes evidence that people work harder in a group than when they are alone (social striving).
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