Cultural Differences on the Nature of Relationships

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Discuss cultural differences on the nature of relationships (24 Marks) Psychologists have identified dimensions along which relationships may vary across cultures. Important differences have been found in the following categories: Individualism/ Collectivism, Voluntary/ Involuntary and Permanent/ Impermanent. Therefore it is ethically important to develop sensitivity to cultural differences. A key notion which illustrates cultural differences is found in Individualistic and collectivistic cultures. Western cultures are described as individualistic as they place great importance on the right and freedom of the individual, with individual happiness and pleasure seen as important. However, in non-western cultures regarded as collectivist cultures the group is the main concern and interdependence is more encouraged than independence. The cultural attitudes of individualist cultures are consistent with the formation of relationships because it is based on freedom of choice, whereas collectivism leads to relationships that may have more to do with the concern of the family or group. The aspect of reciprocity illustrated by Ting-Toomey (1986), is an important aspect of the formation of relationships, seems to be different in individualistic and collectivist cultures. Reciprocity in personal relationships tends to be voluntary, but in collectivist it is more obligatory. Similarly, the dimension of individualism affects the length of relationships. Individualistic cultures emphasise progress, where change is important while collectivist cultures emphasise continuity. These differences can have an impact on aspects of relationships such as their maintenance and dissolution. However, despite there being differences found in individualistic/ collectivist cultures, there are also differences found in voluntary/involuntary relationships. In many western cultures, people live in an urban setting which ensures that we voluntarily interact with a large number of people....
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