chapter  4
18 Pages

Cross-Cultural Personal Relationships

In few areas has this lack of cross-cultural research been more evident than in the area of personal relationships (Rosenblatt, 1974; Kagit<;ibasi, 1990). Such an omission is regrettable for a number of reasons. First, a cross-cultural examination of relationships can help answer important questions concerning the way in which the different conceptual "levels" of individual, dyadic, and societal interact (Gudykunst & Ting-Toomey, 1988; Huston & Levinger, 1978). Second, cross-cultural analysis allows us to test competing theories under particularly stringent conditions and, where negative aspects of

relationships are under investigation, to learn from cultures where such behavior is absent (Levinson, 1989). Third, acculturation processes in new or changing societies have important implications for relationship behavior and subsequent mental health (e.g., Ghaffarian, 1987; Hanassab & Tidwell, 1989). Finally, it is widely recognized by those outside the traditional academic boundaries of personal-relationship investigation that personal relationships play a strategic role in the wider issues of cultural change and political transition. It is thus evident that cross-cultural investigations of personal relationships are invaluable not only to those working within traditional psychology/sociology frameworks but also to those aiming at wider interdisciplinary connections within the social science and humanity disciplines.