Perceived Attitudes towards Romanticism; a Cross-Cultural Study of American, Asian-Indian, and Turkish Young Adults *

By Medora, Nilufer P.; Larson, Jeffry H. et al. | Journal of Comparative Family Studies, Spring 2002 | Go to article overview

Perceived Attitudes towards Romanticism; a Cross-Cultural Study of American, Asian-Indian, and Turkish Young Adults *


Medora, Nilufer P., Larson, Jeffry H., Hortacsu, Nuran, Dave, Parul, Journal of Comparative Family Studies


Romanticism has been defined as: "a general disposition an individual has towards love, marriage, the family, and with relationships involving male-female interaction in which the affective component is regarded as primary and all other considerations are excluded from conscious reflection" (Spanier, 1972, pp. 481-482). Five components of romanticism have been identified: (a) love finds a way to conquer all, (b) for each person there is one and only one romantic match, (c) the beloved will meet one's highest ideals, (d) love can strike at first sight, and (e) we should follow our heart rather than our mind when choosing a partner (Knee, 1998).

The scientific study of romantic love was initiated more than 50 years ago when Gross (1944) published one of the earlier romanticism scales. Since that time, several love/romanticism questionnaires have been developed (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1986; Prentice, Briggs & Bradley, 1983; Rubin, 1973).

Researchers argue that while high romantic beliefs generally tend to reflect unrealistic standards for marital relationships, having feelings of romanticism are not bad. In fact, a certain degree of romance is necessary to sustain relationships (Sharp & Ganong, 2000). These romantic notions and ideas help to serve as buffers and assist partners from focusing on the negative qualities of their partners (Murray & Holmes, 1997). These same researchers caution individuals against too much romanticism and extreme romantic beliefs about their partner(s) and/or relationship because of the negative con sequences that could result. Some of these include disappointment, marital conflict, and divorce (Baucom & Epstein, 1990; Glenn, 1991).

Although theoretical discussions about the nature of romantic love (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1986; Rubin, 1970) have focused attention on its occurrence in the United States, existing cross-cultural studies indicate that there may be cultural differences in romantic beliefs. Researchers have found that Japanese young adults indicated lower adherence to romantic conceptions of love and romantic beliefs than Americans and Koreans were less romantic than Americans (Brown, 1994; Simmons, Vom Kolke, & Shimizu, 1986, Sprecher, Aron, Hatfield, Cortese, Potapova, Levitskaya, 1994). It has also been found that individualistic cultures assigned greater importance to love as bases for marriage than collectivistic cultures and that the least importance to love was ascribed in underdeveloped eastern cultures e.g., China and India (Desai, McCormick & Gaeddert, 1989; Levine, Sato, Hashimoto & Verma, 1995). Even though culturally approved beliefs about love are known to influence young adults' expectations, experiences, attitud es, and behaviors (Kelley, 1983), limited research is published on the attitudes about love and romanticism in non-western and particularly developing nations (Desai, McCormick, & Gaeddert, 1989).

Goode (1959) proposed a theory that romantic love is highly valued in more industrialized and less traditional cultures (U.S. and Europe) in which nuclear families are the primary source of adult bonds. Romantic love is presumed by Goode to be functional in these cultures because it results in the development of patterns and behaviors that serve to attract and hold together couples of differing backgrounds. Goode argued that in some more traditional and less industrialized cultures (Japan, China, and India), romantic love relationships have been viewed as being irrelevant to marriage because they may interfere with and disrupt the tradition of arranged and family approved marriages. Industrialization and urbanization have also been associated with the rise of individualistic values that emphasize needs of the individual over group loyalties and collectivistic values stressing family integrity (Triandis, Bontempo, Villareal, Asai, & Lucca, 1988).

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