Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Susan E. Cross
The major purpose of the current research is to examine how and why Chinese and European Americans' views and evaluations of their romantic relationships and partners differ. Based on the cultural theory of naïve dialecticism, I proposed that, compared to European Americans, Chinese would have more ambivalent attitudes toward their partners and they would be more likely to integrate positive and negative knowledge about their partners.
Three studies were designed to examine how partner evaluation and partner knowledge organization vary across cultures. Study 1 examined Chinese and European American dating individuals' explicit evaluation of their partners and relationships, and I found that Chinese were more ambivalent in their explicit partner evaluation than their European American counterparts. Further, explicit partner-ambivalence mediated cultural differences in relationship outcomes, after controlling various individual differences factors (e.g., self-esteem, neuroticism, attachment styles, and idealization). Study 2 investigated implicit attitudes toward one's partner across cultures. I found that Chinese were more ambivalent in their implicit partner evaluations than European Americans. Study 3 tested the differences in how Chinese and European Americans organized positive and negative knowledge of their partners. Chinese tended to use more negative attributes (relative to positive attributes) in their partner knowledge than European Americans; unexpectedly, participants in both cultures used a compartmentalized organization structure.
This research has both theoretical and practical values in understanding the psychological mechanisms that underlie cultural differences in relationship well-being between the East and the West.
Chun Pan Lam
Lam, Chun Pan, "Dialectical relationship thinking: examination of partner evaluation and partner knowledge organization across cultures" (2016). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 15021.