How Online Dating Changed Cross-Cultural Love and Relationships

The last several decades have witnessed the emergence and extensive development of dating websites. This progress greatly changed the way partners meet, love, and how their relationships evolve.

How Dating Websites Emerged and Expanded

It may look surprising that the first dating websites came only in the 1990s. In 1995, Match.com went online. In the early 2000s, a new wave of dating sites like OKCupid came out. When Tinder came out in 2012, it changed dating even more. There are now more than one-third of marriages that begin online. This data, however, varies across cultures.

These websites have obviously had a significant influence on dating behavior. However, evidence is mounting that their impact is far more substantial. Interesting statistical data from research shows the variety of places and ways in which partners met each other over the last decades.

How Traditional Networks of Dating Work

The social networks associated with family, neighbors, friends, and acquaintances were the most prevalent sources of prospective dating partners. People are strongly connected to a small group of neighbors and only loosely connected to people who live far away. It turns out that these loose connections are very important.

Loose ties have traditionally played an important role in meeting partners. While most people were unlikely to date one of their best friends, they were much more likely to date someone from their group of friends, such as a friend of a friend. Men and women met their partners through their families, at church, through mutual friends, in bars, in educational institutions, at work, and so on.

The Modern Way of Online Dating

The networks of dating have changed with the onset of online dating. Nowadays, heterosexual couples meet through online dating, which is the second most popular method. It’s the most popular choice by far for homosexual couples.

Online dating has led to significant consequences, extending the pool of potential dating partners. “People who meet online tend to be complete strangers,” say Josue Ortega from the University of Essex in the U.K. and Philipp Hergovich from the University of Vienna in Austria, the authors of the recent study.

Online Dating Is Conducive to Intercultural Marriages

These new opportunities extended chances for intercultural relationships, love, and marriages. Some societies are more favorable for intercultural marriages than others.

The statistics of intercultural marriages in the United States of American present a good example for analysis. For instance, J. Ortega and P. Hergovich compared the rates of interracial marriages in the U.S. over the past several decades and found that the number of interracial marriages increased for some time, but the rates were still low.

However, the rates of increase in interracial marriages substantially changed at about the time that online dating became popular. The researchers say,

“It is intriguing that shortly after the introduction of the first dating websites in 1995, like Match.com, the percentage of new marriages created by interracial couples increased rapidly.”

When online dating became even more popular, this increase in interracial marriages became even steeper in the 2000s. Later, in 2014, the proportion of interracial marriages expanded again. “It is interesting that this increase occurred shortly after the creation of Tinder, considered the most popular online dating app,” researchers say.

Married Couples Who Meet Online Are More Stable

It is worth noting that, with about 50 million users, Tinder produces over 12 million matches daily. In the meantime, research into the strength of marriage has discovered some evidence that married couples who meet online have lower rates of marital breakup compared to those who meet in traditional settings.

How Assertion and Hesitation Help Sustain Love in Bicultural Marriages in Japan

Authors: Clifford H. Clarke and Naomi Takashiro

Intercultural partners experience many challenges in building and sustaining love in bicultural marriages. In the previous article, we reviewed the key problems that Japanese and American partners encounter in their bicultural marriages. We explored those cases of third-culture marriage in Japan by observing their interactions and interviewing them.

We clarify misinterpretations through the use of kotowaza, or proverbs and sayings that illuminate the values behind cultural interactions. Understanding the deeper values leads to modified interpretations of each other’s behavior that become more isomorphic and mutually acceptable to partners committed to constructing together a successful Third-Culture Marriage.

In our recent chapter 51 in the International Handbook of Love (Clarke & Takashiro, 2021), we elaborated on the eight primary qualities of third-culture marriage interactions. They are important when partners commit to constructing together a successful intercultural marriage.

Here is one more advice.

Context of the Interaction Assertion and Hesitation in Bicultural Marriages

Partners in bicultural marriages have varying degrees of action-oriented versus being-oriented inclinations (the oft-noted ‘A’ or ‘B’ type personalities). When these are not in sync they cause tension. For example, in planning everyday schedules, leisure trip activities, even with the pace in which house chores or shopping get done, and many other occasions in which joint preparations are desired.

Time Is a Key Value

Time is a commodity in both cultures however it is worshipped differently.   Preciseness of departure times or eating times or sleeping times cause communication issues when there is a significant difference between marriage partners’ commitments to preciseness or being laissez-faire toward time (letting things take their own course.) But proper timing is also important and that can vary by context and objective.  

The kotowaza, Seite wa koto o shisonzuru or ‘Hasty ones make blunders’ reminds us of the issue of proper timing, such as when to end or leave a conversation or party. This also suggests the importance of enryo or hesitation as a pause before sasshi can occur (Miike, 2003) as in giving consideration or guessing a meaning.

Necessary Elements of Place

Besides the perspective of ‘time’, there are also considerations of ‘Place’ that bicultural couples must appreciate and resolve.   There is an appropriateness of time, place, and occasion, “TPO” to speak honestly in private with honne or tactfully in public with tatemae. 

Tatemae & honne (public & private speech) create style ambiguities that result in challenging attributions that question each other’s integrity, based honesty, shōjiki, or on harmony, “Wa, as the primary value in society (Prince Shotoku Taishi, 604; Clarke, 1992; Nawano, Annikis, and Mizuno, 2006; Oosterling, 2005; Pilgrim, 1986).

Here Is an Example of One Scenario

A long-term U. S. man, a professor, complained often of his Japanese partner never having an opinion of her own, even about where to take a weekend trip or what to eat.  The American wanted her honest feeling regardless of potentially having her opinion overruled.  Having “no opinion” created comfort in the Japanese woman while not in the U. S. man. It rather limited the scope and depth of the bicultural relationship.  The man did not value awaseru, to adjust, adapt, or match, as the woman did because without ‘the truth’, her shōjiki, how could he know that he was pleasing her? 

She on the other hand was practicing enryo, hesitation, in order to let him choose.  Whatever his decision, she was sure that she was happier to awasu, to adjust to his preferences and would easily gaman, endure, the consequences.  She would be ‘the wise hawk that hides its talons’ – No aru taka wa tsume o kakusu.

Here Are the Tools for Cultural Exploration

Kotowaza (sayings and proverbs – some are the same as sayings and proverbs in English) can uncover deeper values and assumptions, which are often unknown to non-Japanese (Galef & Hashimoto, 1987).  Kotowaza, like those from Confucius or Musashi, reveal models for strategic thinking and behaviors and can provide a basis for conversations about different styles of communication. 

In this case the Japanese wife chose to enryo, hesitation, and awasu, to adapt to his expressed wishes.  The husband chose to act in a way that could have conveyed rikutsuppoi, argumentative, or display what she may have perceived as ki ga tsuyoi, strong mindedness, and jikoshucho, self- assertiveness, not characteristics admired in Japan.  

Learning Through Experimentation

Differences across these two cultures due to assumptions about integrity, honesty, persuasion, and adjustment often result in dissatisfaction within the marriage. However, just deeper understanding is inadequate without exploring the necessary changes in attitude, accepting the conflicting values, and experimenting with new behaviors.

One Pathway to Conflict Resolution

There are two social paths by which to display integrity.   One is by being honest; the other is by being harmonious.   In Japan, Prince Shotoku Taishi wrote in 604 A. D. “Above all, there is harmony” in what is known as Japan’s first constitution. 

Honesty is not as core a value in Japan as in the U.S. due to the predominance of tatemae rather than honne in the language, which enables the construction of greater harmony. 

One kotowaza shows the necessity of what Americans call lying; Uso mo hoben, similarly, ‘a white lie is a necessary evil’ teaches us that lying is sometimes expedient in order to save face and build harmony, as in diplomacy or office politics.

How Japanese and Americans Sustain Love in Bicultural Marriages in Japan

Authors: Clifford H. Clarke and Naomi Takashiro

Intercultural lovers experience many challenges in attempts to build bicultural marriages. In this article, we consider the key issues that arise in the dozens of bicultural marriages we have known through observation of interactions and interviews in Japan. We clarify misinterpretations by use of kotowaza or proverbs and sayings that illuminate the values behind the cultural interactions. Understanding the deeper values leads to modified interpretations of each other’s behavior that become more isomorphic and mutually acceptable to partners committed to constructing together a successful Third-Culture Marriages.

A Third-Culture Marriage (TCM) builds upon earlier concepts of Ruth & John Useem’s (1967) Third-Culture Kid (TCK) and David Pollock’s (1999) Adult TCK.

What Is Third Culture Building Model?

Fred Casmir (1993, 1999) recognized the need for a building model or conceptual framework for individuals interacting across cultures for extended duration.  He developed the conceptual Third Culture Building Model (TCBM), which inspired Clarke & Takashiro (2019) to research and develop an applied process of communicating between Third-Cultural Marriage partners in Japan.

The Third-Cultural Marriage is defined by its process wherein two partners from different original cultures commit to a lifetime of utilizing periodic processes to investigate each other’s perceptions, values, and communication styles with approaches grounded in intercultural communication competencies. The goal of the Third-Cultural Marriage is to sustain commitment to the relationship in a way that demonstrates increasing mutual understanding, respect, appreciation, empathy, trust and love.

The Third-Culture Marriage interaction process they developed was built upon Barnlund’s (1976) holistic interpretation of intercultural communication processes and Ruben and Kealey’s (1979) augmented seven intercultural communication competencies.

In their recent chapter 51 in the International Handbook of Love, Clarke & Takashiro (2021)elaborated on the eight primary qualities summarized below.  These eight primary qualities below are not sequential steps of interaction processes but rather must be applied simultaneously with consistent awareness.

Here Are Eight Primary Qualities of the Third-Culture Marriage Interaction

  1. For Third-Cultural Marriage (TCM) creation, instead of trying to fit into others’ categories, construct together from your own experiences, with new definitions and communication scenarios, the intercultural interactions that are relevant to each partner. The ICC (Intercultural Communication Competencies) that are required is that of personalizing one’s perceptions, in other words, the ability to communicate one’s own values, beliefs, and assumptions as personal and not universally applicable and accept that personal preferences may need modification or to be changed altogether. This usually requires learning about oneself by analyzing how it impacts its new environment, the society and the marriage.
  2. TCM focuses on creating a process for communicating about any issues of your choice that you would like to create clarity around, such as making sense of each other’s attitude or approach to something or interpreting what each partner perceives as common sense in order to build common grounds. Develop mutual commitment to your communication process even as you make changes together along the way. It is this process that is your goal rather than building final unchangeable standards. The ICC skill for this process is being non-judgmental about whatever one hears from one’s partner, while seeking to understand and accept whatever that may be. 
  3. TCM is based on principles of fairness and democracy, focus on each other as equals and build an atmosphere of caring and respecting the other, avoiding confronting or trying to persuade each other. No one’s needs take priority over the other’s needs. An ICC for this quality is to communicate respect in a way that is acceptable to the other partner and that requires listening to the other’s preferred ways of receiving respect that generate happiness and self-esteem. 
  4. TCM requires a process that searches for new insights to oneself as well as the other’s including personal backgrounds, preferences, knowledge, and feelings. Think of this process as an exploration into the unknown of both parties and a negotiation that constructs shared experiences and new learnings. ICC that support this process are perseverance and patience because the end of the process never ends. For such sharing patience needs to be demonstrated and not only felt internally. Patience is required because exploring the culture that each partner brings to the relationship and then constructing together a new culture takes dedication and perseverance. 
  5. TCM processes are engaged with mutual enthusiasm and deliberateness. It requires conscious effort and discipline to establish structures, systems, artifacts, shared values, and styles of communicating that can enrich the quality of the couple’s lives together. Their process should be aimed at creating trust, respect, and meaningful interactions that both partners can understand, explain, and support. The ICC skill for this process is to show an ability to tolerate ambiguity when working together without demanding clarification or conformity to one’s own standard or common sense.
  6. TCM is grounded in proactive communication that avoids crises, conflicts, and problems because it takes a proactive problem-solving approach that can enable healthy interactions with modifications of external circumstances or ingrained cultural behaviors. The ICC skill for a proactive problem-solving approach is to display personal empathy for the partner when a situation seems to be creating a problem. The challenge is to learn how to exhibit empathy in the partner’s preferred way. That requires keen observation, trial and error, or inquiry in a way that shows appreciation for any answer. 
  7. TCM is strengthened by a striving for positive outcomes that will be beneficial and satisfactory to both partners for the present and into the future. It is designed to enable partners to build, create, and shift frameworks if needed by any situation but does not advocate any specific outcome as it is a process for constructing a new culture for a third culture marriage of partners from two different cultures. An ICC skill that suits this process is demonstrating role flexibility by the willingness to experience new roles within the marriage and the society, as an active learner eager to try new behaviors with the partner. 
  8. TCM definitely requires time because it is a communication process that serves to integrate thoughts, feelings, and behaviors from two cultures into one new culture. It requires of partners considerable reflection, exploration of new information, new standards or norms for the new culture.  Expanding one’s behavioral repertoire also requires practice with mutual support. The ICC skill needed for integrating diverse thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of the partners is a demonstration of perpetual reciprocal concern for each other. Concern for another is a feeling of compassion that is best communicated by action with or without words.

The foundational ICC that were mentioned in these eight steps are the authors’ modifications on Ruben & Kealey’s (1979) Intercultural Communication Competencies. (Refer to: Clarke & Takashiro, 2021)

We believe these pieces of advice and experiences about sustaining love and building bicultural marriages among partners in Japan will be helpful for partners living in bicultural marriages not only in Japan but also in other countries.

Authors: Clifford H. Clarke and Naomi Takashiro

The Religious Bias of Love and Prejudice

Many religious teachings emphasize love, kindness, and generosity as the primary cultural values. Whether or not you are religious, you have probably heard of the “Golden Rule.” It states that you should treat others as you would like to be treated. A version of this rule exists in all major world religions. Why does religious prejudice still exist?

Does religion increase moral behavior? Or, why do religious cultures explicitly or implicitly teach prejudice?

Religions encourage prosocial behavior and teach us to love each other. Religious teachings suggest people treat others with kindness, generosity, and positivity. Based on the review of many studies on religion and prosocial behavior, researchers have concluded that religious people’s faith tends to increase their prosocial behavior.

Why then don’t we always practice what we preach?

The Paradox of Religious Love

The question arises: why does religion also influence actions and viewpoints that seem to conflict with these religious principles?

Throughout history, religions have been a force behind atrocities like wars and massacres committed against people of other faiths. We know about the stories of religious crusades. We remember the French Wars of Religion in 1572 and the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of people.

Why Religious People Can Be Prejudiced

While religion teaches prosocial behavior, research shows that when people identify themselves closely with one’s religion, this can lead to their racism and homophobia. The social psychological effect of intergroup bias can explain how religion can produce prejudiced attitudes and behaviors.

How Intergroup Bias Decreases Prosocial Behavior and Love

The intergroup bias is the human propensity to think favorably about the groups we are a part of — an “ingroup”.” Yet we think more negatively about the groups you are not a part of—”an outgroup.” While we think that outgroups violate our ingroup values, we perceive them as dangerous to our ingroup.

In light of this social psychological effect, we can understand why religious beliefs can produce both prosocial behavior and prejudice. On the one hand, people direct their prosocial behavior primarily at members of their own ingroup. On the other hand, people focus their prejudice on members of other groups, particularly those they view as threatening.

However, it is unclear whether religion boosts prejudice or if there is another factor at play. Annetta Snell and her colleagues thoroughly reviewed the findings of psychological research, which used priming techniques to explore whether religion might increase prejudice.

What the Priming Studies Are

Priming is the method of subtly encouraging someone to think about a thought or concept in such a way that they are barely conscious of this subtle influence. Researchers employ the strategy of priming to influence people’s opinions when they don’t want to be too explicit in their influence. The purpose of such priming is to increase a concept’s awareness in the brain of a person in order to detect differences in subsequent behaviors and attitudes.

In one type of priming technique, for example, people unscrambled short sentences with religious words. That was implicit religious priming. Then these participants responded to the questions that assessed their prejudice toward various religious groups.

Researchers compared the responses of these participants with those of other people, whom they primed with unreligious (neutral) words. The higher level of prejudice in the group primed with religious words than in the group primed with neutral words should provide evidence that religion causes prejudice.

What the Priming Studies of Religious Beliefs Show

Annetta Snell and her colleagues have reviewed 44 studies estimating how much this kind of priming increases prejudice. They concluded that the priming of religious thoughts increases prejudice across all target groups, such as Jews, Muslims, and Hindus. However, researchers found that this effect of religious priming is relatively small.

However, researchers found that priming religion increases prejudice toward members of sexual and gender minorities as well as towards atheists. These findings indicate that religious people tend to perceive members of sexual and gender minorities, as well as atheists, as especially threatening to their religious views. It is likely they perceive those as violating their religious values.

Thus, priming religious thoughts increases prejudice due to intergroup bias and perceptions of threat. However, it would be inadequate to excessively generalize these findings. When primed with religious thoughts, not all people show prejudice towards other groups. And religious leaders and community members can mitigate the negative social effects of religious prejudice if they explicitly oppose prejudice towards other cultural groups.

Societies Favorable to Intercultural Marriages

In the modern world of increased social mobility and mass migration, many countries have become very multicultural. Subsequently, new mixed cultures with blended communities have been developed in many regions.

Some workplaces, public spaces, and residential areas have become spots where regular intercultural contacts occur. International trade, transnational cooperation, and the development of multicultural projects have also caused more regular inter-cultural contacts and interactions.

The Mere Exposure Effect and Interpersonal Attraction

The mere exposure effect and the familiarity effect may lead to greater interpersonal attraction in intercultural relations.

First, the “mere exposure effect” means “the more you see, the more you like.” We tend to love those we repeatedly see for a while and interact with them in a neutral or positive way. Negative experiences of interactions often produce an adverse effect, thus counteracting the positivity of the mere exposure effect. (See more in How does mere exposure induce love attraction?)

The Mere Exposure Effect and Interpersonal Familiarity

The mere exposure effect also creates an impression of familiarity. The others, whom we see on a regular basis, look more familiar and trustworthy to us. When we meet others who look and behave differently, people tend to be nervous and worried. This evolutionary tendency is what produces in-group positive bias, out-group negative bias, and intergroup tension. (See more in Love attraction to familiar others).

The Effects of Mere Exposure on Familiarity in Intercultural Relationships

Different cultures appear to us as in-groups and out-groups. For us, our culture is perceived as an ingroup, and people look and behave familiar to us because we see them regularly and adapt our perception frame. Therefore, we tend to like and trust them. On the other hand, another culture is perceived as an outgroup, and people look and behave strangely to us because we have never seen them before or have seen them rarely. Therefore, we tend to feel suspicious and apprehensive.

What can happen in culturally blended communities? People of different cultures see each other on a regular basis. We have become accustomed to seeing “others” who look and behave differently. The more we see them, the less strange they appear to us and the less they differ from us. We begin to feel they are basically the same good and trustworthy people as we are. If not, it may not be a matter of culture but rather of an individual’s personality.

Thus, when we meet people from other cultures routinely and in positive interactions, their looks and behaviors gradually become more recognizable and familiar. And due to the “familiarity effect”, we begin to love them more. So, the more often we see those of another culture, the more they look familiar. The more we perceive them as familiar, the more we like them.

The Opportunities Breed Possibilities for Intercultural Marriages

When applied to intercultural contacts and relationships, these mere exposure and familiarity effects can increase the likelihood of intercultural love, dating, and marriage. Considering these social psychological effects, we can think that once men and women of different races and ethnicities have more opportunities to see each other and interact in a positive way, they will perceive more familiarity in each other and, consequently, like and even love each other more. The matter of love, as in within-cultural relationships rather than cultural distinctions, will play a role in their attraction and possible love. Having regular opportunities for intercultural perception and interaction can trigger the simple exposure and familiarity effects. Intercultural and interpersonal attraction and love will follow accordingly.

Studies have shown that this possibility is real in friendships and romantic relationships. Physical and interactional proximity serve as the strongest predictors of interracial friendship and dating. The availability of interracial and interethnic contacts determines the likelihood that students of different races and ethnicities develop friendships. In the same way, greater opportunities for interracial contact predict a greater occurrence of interracial romantic relationships (e.g., Hallinan & Smith, 1985; Fujino, 1997).

However, different proportions of cultural majority and minority groups and belonging to majority or minority groups in a community have different effects on the likelihood of friendship and romantic relationships. In addition, different racial and ethnic groups have different wiliness and a chance to get into such intercultural relationships. Overall, Latinos and Asians are most likely to marry outside their ethnicity and race.

The Multicultural Society of the USA and Increasing Rates of Intercultural Marriages

In the USA, western states, and especially Hawaii, represent excellent examples of mingled multicultural communities favorable to intercultural relationships. The cultural mixing in these regions creates multicultural communities conducive to inter-cultural friendships, romances, and marriages.

The Pew Research Center conducted research in 2012 that showed that Hawaii and the Western United States had the highest rate of interracial marriages nationwide. According to that study, the US was a broadly diverse, multicultural country that continued to break down racial barriers and boundaries. Furthermore, the trend toward a high rate of interracial marriages was growing. In 2012, about 15% of all new marriages in the United States were interracial. In 2015, the number grew by up to 17%. The increasing numbers of Latino and Asian immigrants, as well as the growing public acceptance of such intercultural relationships among young people, were the major causes of the high and rising rates of interculturalism and polyculturalism (See more in The increasing trend of intercultural marriages in America).

The Western United States and Hawaii had the most pronounced increases in the number of intercultural marriages. In comparison to the national average, approximately 20% of newlyweds in the western United States were men and women of different races or ethnicities. In California, more than 23% of new marriages were inter-racial or inter-ethnic, a higher rate than in other western neighboring states. However, Hawaii had the highest rate of 40 percent interracial marriage in the country (Hawaii leads nation with 40 percent interracial marriage rate, by Rebecca Trounson, Feb. 16, 2012).

Intercultural Relationships for Status Exchange

Intercultural relationships are becoming more widespread in modern multicultural societies. Several theories of interracial romantic and marital relationships have been developed in sociology and social psychology. Among those are the theories of status-caste exchange, opportunity theory, ethnic identity, and interpersonal development.

In-group Versus Out-group Impediments to Intercultural Relationships and Marriages

The divisions between in-groups and out-groups have been pervasive throughout human history. Cultural communities frequently favor their own group and its members while remaining vigilant and wary of other cultural groups. They liked those who were familiar and did not trust those who were unfamiliar. They were predisposed to seeing those from their own cultural in-group with positive bias and those from other cultural “out-groups” with negative bias. These cultural stereotypes precipitated such preferences for prospective partners of the same race, ethnicity, and language over “others” who were unfamiliar. (See other posts about How does mere exposure induce love attraction? and What are cultural stereotypes?).

Consequently, they preferred to marry those of their own cultural group (in-group) and were reluctant to get into relationships with those “others.” Such long-standing traditions were preserved by extended families. They preferred the marriages of their children to those from their cultural group (race, ethnicity, religion). They frequently preferred consanguinity marriages between kin relatives.

Homogamy is a widespread tendency in romantic and marital relationships (see another post on homogamy and love). It is a definite corollary of in-group biases.

Why, despite various social and psychological barriers, have men and women been married across cultural groups?

Status Exchange Motivation in Intercultural Relationships Marriages

Throughout history, various cultural groups have frequently had different social and economic statuses. Some of them were more privileged than others. Some tribes, families, communities, societies, and countries were wealthier than others or had other social advantages. For example, some countries are more economically developed or more civilized than others. Consequently, people enjoyed these benefits. Even within countries, different social and cultural groups are more honored and fortunate than others. The Indian caste system is one of these examples.

Because of such social differentiation, marriage with someone of a higher status has been advantageous. Therefore, the status-exchange motivation is among the strongest reasons for marrying up a man or woman from a wealthy family, tribe, or ethnic group. Generally speaking, people of lower socioeconomic status are more likely to seek out marital relationships with others of higher status to make up for their low status (Rosenfeld, 2005; Sassler & Joyner, 2011; Schoen & Wooldredge, 1989).

The social status exchange model of intermarriage was and is still a reality in societies with high social inequality.

Examples of Status Exchange Intermarriages

Studies have provided evidence to support the contention that the status-caste exchange motivation works in many intermarriages. These cases are frequent in Black-White relationships. In other combinations of races and ethnicities, such as Asians, Latinos, and others, these cases are less frequent (e.g., Gullickson & Fu, 2010; Kalmijn, 2010).

Status-caste exchanges in intercultural marriages can be driven by pragmatic motivation. However, an alternative explanation is possible: passionate and romantic idealization can erase cultural differences in the eyes of beholders. The latter can be true at the initial stage of romantic relationships, when men and women believe that “love wins.” Contemporary romantic movies from Hollywood depict many romantic stories, like fairy tales. They inspire many girls—gender stereotypes persist—to marry a prince.

Fairy tales across cultures commonly depict girls’ dreams of encountering a charming prince to love and marry. The girls are typically kind and beautiful, but poor, while the prince is brave, handsome, and rich. The first two qualities of both definitely predispose them to fall in love with each other—the romantic model of love, yet the third qualities of both predispose them to the status-caste exchange model of love. Such a cultural model of love in fairy tales inspired many girls in the past. Modern Hollywood movies continue to inspire these phantasies. The reality of love, however, does not frequently work this way.

(Karandashev, 2022).

Doubts in Social Exchange Motivation

Some studies, however, express doubts about the validity of such social exchange explanations. The findings for minority groups in the United States, such as Hispanics, Blacks, and Asians, are inconclusive. Different interpretations of Black–White intermarriage are possible. Inequality between the Black and White racial groups, as well as gender differences, can be factors that interact with one another. Some analyses call into question the status-caste exchange theory (Rosenfeld, 2005).

Passionate idealization and true, genuine, and heartfelt love can play an important role in such presumably social exchange in romantic and marital relationships. Maybe Hollywood movies tell us the reality, not only beautiful dreams and illusions.

Socio-economic Equality and Social Status Exchange in Relationships

The social status exchange model of intercultural marriages will likely be on the decline in modern societies. The rise in social, economic, and educational equality in many modern societies is likely to make status-exchange motivation less important for people who marry from different cultures.

Intercultural Marriage Statistics in America

Due to increased mobility and immigration in recent decades, many countries have become more multicultural than ever before. Such migration has created new mixed and blended cultural communities in many regions. Intercultural encounters on a daily basis are becoming common in workplaces and public areas. Consequently, intercultural romantic relationships and intercultural marriage statistics.

When people regularly meet people of other cultures, their appearance and behavior may look more familiar. The more they see others and the more they look familiar, the more they like them. The mere exposure effect makes others familiar, and cultural differences do not preclude interpersonal attraction and love.

Intercultural Dating in America

Men and women now have more opportunities to encounter prospective romantic partners from other cultures than they did in the past. Along with increased intercultural encounters, the likelihood of intercultural dating and marriage also increases. The legal issues impeding interracial and interethnic marriages have also been changed for the better. Therefore, the rate of intercultural romantic relationships has been substantially increasing in recent decades.

Intermarriages in America

Surprisingly, for a democratic country, marriage between different racial groups was banned as unconstitutional in the United States for a long time. Interracial marriages became legal in the United States only in the 1960s. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned miscegenation laws in the US in 1967. The subsequent expansion of interethnic romantic relationships in the following few decades was substantial.

The Modern Increase in Intercultural Marriage Statistics in America

Since 1967, interethnic marriages have increased in number, crossing borders and erasing boundaries. The rate of intercultural marriages has been steadily growing.

In 1967, when intermarriages became legal, only 3% of all marriages were between partners of a different race or ethnicity.

In 1980, the number of intermarriages was already at 7%.

In 2008, around 14.6% of new marriages were between partners of different races or ethnicities.

In 2015, the number of interracial and interethnic marriages reached 17%.

Basically, this means that while in 1980 there were about 230,000 newlyweds married to someone of a different race or ethnicity, in 2015 there were already more than 670,000 intermarried newlyweds.

Intercultural Couples in Committed Cohabiting Relationships

Besides the fact that interracial and interethnic relationships are common among newlyweds, they are also common among many cohabiting partners. Young men and women may continue to feel social pressure against interethnic marriage, so they may consider living together in committed cohabiting relationships. 

Therefore, the frequency of interracial cohabitation can be even higher than that of marriage. For instance, in 2015, about 6% of cohabiting partners were in such informal relationships. Among those, 18% of these partners were of different races or ethnicities.

Overall, one can estimate that the total number of intermarried people in the US who lived together in 2015 was around 11 million. That accounts for around 10% of all married people. For comparison, in 1980, there were about 3 million, or 3% of married people, who had a spouse of a different race or ethnicity.

Thus, we see that, currently, a higher number of young men and women in America are willing and ready to have intercultural relationships and marry someone of a different race or ethnicity.

Public Attitudes Toward Intercultural Marriage in the USA

Two major factors have driven these dramatic changes in the number of intercultural marriages. First, the changes occurred because of the weakening of longstanding negative cultural attitudes against intermarriage. Second, the changes happened because of a multi-decade surge of immigration from Latin America and Asia.

The public media has also changed the depiction of interethnic relationships. Public sentiment has slowly become more accepting of interracial relationships. Public openness toward interracial relationships increases gradually but steadily.

The tendencies in interethnic dating attitudes are shifting toward greater approval and engagement in interethnic relationships, especially with young adult and adolescent populations. Scholars argue that there are individual and societal benefits to engaging in and maintaining close relationships with members of different ethnicities (e.g., Jacobson & Johnson, 2006; Jones, 2011; Knox et al., 2000; Troy, Lewis-Smith, & Laurenceau, 2006).

What Is Cultural Identity?

An individual’s identity is fundamentally composed of personal, social, and cultural identities as well as more specific ones like sexual or gender identity. They all explain how people perceive themselves, but they characterize different traits of individual identity. The cultural identity of a person is closely intertwined with his or her other selves, such as personal and social identities.

Cultural Identity of a Person

Cultural identity is a person’s awareness of what cultural group she or he belongs to. Nationality, ethnic group, religious faith, or social class are all examples of cultural identities. This identity is a personal characteristic that is both individual and social in nature. It is up to a person to decide with which cultural group he or she has a special cultural affinity.

What Does “Cultural Identity” Include?

Cultural identity includes a category label, knowledge, and social connections with cultural group.

A person’s cultural category label is how a person identifies with a specific cultural membership. This is how the person calls himself or herself. These labels are national, ethnic, religious, and other group membership identifiers.

Cultural knowledge is what a person understands about their own cultural characteristics. This is how much the person knows about his or her culture and what culturally specific values, norms, practices, and people’s characteristics they know.

Social cultural connections are the relationships that a person has with kin, family, close friends, neighbors, coworkers, and other members of their cultural community. Through such cultural immersion, the person acquires cultural beliefs and traditions.

Varieties of Cultural Identity

The cultural identity of a person can include their nationality: Greek, Italian, Spanish, German, British, Canadian, American, Japanese, or Chinese. But being born in a country or in a family of parents of a certain nationality does not define the identity of a person. Identity is how a person is aware of himself or herself and what nationality he or she personally identifies with.

Regional and local specifics can also define how a person is aware of his or her cultural identity. A friend of mine, for instance, once told me that he identifies himself as Bavarian as well as European. Yet he does not feel himself to be a German. It is up to him to decide which identity he considers his personal self.

The cultural identity of a person can also reflect the ethnic group that person belongs to, such as Indigenous peoples of America, Dutch Americans, German Americans, Hispanic Americans, and others in the USA; Han Chinese, Zhuang people, Uyghurs, and others in China. Each of these ethnic groups has its own cultural specificities. Once again, it is important for the identity of a person to recognize himself or herself in terms of such attribution.

Religious faith is often linked to a cultural group that people identify with. For some, being Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, or Muslim is an essential part of who they are and their identity.

The lower, middle, and upper socioeconomic classes are also considered different cultures. People can feel this social attribution as a part of their cultural identity (Karandashev, 2021).

These can also be cultural generations according to age, such as the silent generation, the baby boomer generation, the millennials, the gen X, or the gen Z. According to the times they grew up in and the social contexts that affected their enculturation, they have lived in different historical cultures.

The Dynamics of Identity

Cultural identity is often in flux. Various historical, social, and cultural experiences can change the identity of a person. This, for example, often occurs during acculturation in a new society into which a person has immigrated. These changes vary from one person to another. A cultural identity is a dynamic notion within a person. Some people undergo more identity changes than others.

Intercultural communication frequently engages cultural stereotypes about people of other cultures. They can facilitate or impede our adequate understanding of other individuals.

What Are Cultural Stereotypes?

The article explains how social categorization, intergroup comparison, group identification, and outgroup bias shape cultural stereotypes.

Social Identity Theory

Social identity theory is a good explanatory framework for many things in our social cognitions, relationships, and behaviors. The concepts of social categorization, social identification, and social comparison of in-group and out-group also explain the formation of social and cultural stereotypes.(Brown, 2000; Hogg, 2016; McLeod, 2019, October 24; Tajfel, 1982, 2001, Turner, Brown, & Tajfel, 1979); Tajfel & Turner, 1979/2004).

Social Categorization, Group identification, and Intergroup comparison

First, we categorize the things around us. Human perception tends to categorize objects to understand them. In the same way, humans categorize people and other social things to understand them. This is called “social categorization.”

We apply such social categories as male and female, boys and girls, the social and gender roles of a child, the social roles of a parent, a student, or a businessman because they help us understand the social world around us. We learn that people can be of different genders and sexual orientations. People can be from the high, middle, or low socioeconomic classes. They can be liberals and conservatives, Christians and Muslims, Germans, Americans, and British. Then, we assign them to these categories to predict what to expect from them. This is the source of our cognitive schemas and stereotypes. This is how we grasp social, political, and gender roles.

Second, we socially identify ourselves as members of social categories and groups that we believe we then belong to. And then, we adopt the appropriate social identity of the group we have categorized ourselves as fitting into. This is called “social identification.”

If one categorizes herself as a girl, it is likely that she adopts the corresponding gender identity and behaves like a woman, conforming to the gender norms and roles of womanhood. For her, it is emotionally important to identify with this group, and her self-esteem becomes bound up with its membership.

Third, if we categorize ourselves as belonging to a social group and identify with that group, then we begin to compare “our group” with “other groups.” This is called “social comparison.” We tend to favorably compare our group to other groups. This allows us to maintain our self-esteem.

In-groups Versus Out-groups

Social categorization tends to serve not only objective social cognition but also subjective self-identification. Therefore, people distinguish social groups in reference to themselves as either in-group (us) or out-group (them). And they are biased in their social perceptions.

First, they tend to see others in their own group as more similar to each other than they are. They are also predisposed to seeing others in the group to which they belong (in-group) as different from others (out-group).

Second, they are prone to seeing positive qualities in those from their in-group and negative qualities in those from their out-group. They are subjective and biased because such favoritism toward their own group enhances their self-image.

Social Categorization and Stereotypes

Stereotyping is the cognitive process of social categorization. It is natural for people to put things together into groups based on their similarities and differences. It is natural for people to stereotype others. Stereotyping is a normal tendency of social cognition when it is flexible and capable of adjustment.

A negative effect of stereotyping appears when social categorization turns into shaping an oversimplified and rigid image of a social group and a particular type of person. In this case, people tend to amplify the similarities between people belonging to the same group and the differences between those belonging to different social groups.

When members of one group identify as opponents of another, they must assert their status in order to maintain their self-esteem. Antagonism and contestation with other groups are related to their competing identities.

Cultural Stereotypes

Cultural stereotypes are just another kind of social stereotype. We categorize people in the same way, referring to the cultural groups they belong to. That is called a “cultural stereotype.”

Plenty of social labels can be perceived as cultural. These are Whites, Blacks, and Asians. These are Christians and Muslims. These are Palestinians and Jews. These are the Albanians and Serbs. One of these can be our “in-group,” while another can be our “out-group” for us.

The in-group is our “own culture,” while the out-group is “their culture.” Ours is certainly better than theirs. Our culture is noble and civilized, while theirs is savage and barbaric. Our great religion versus their primitive superstitions.

The in-group versus out-group distinction is a source of ethnocentrism, which seems difficult to overcome because it is entrenched in human social nature and the basics of social cognition.

Social and cultural stereotypes are at the root of intercultural prejudices and clashes. Prejudiced stereotypes between cultures can cause racism, discrimination, and other detrimental cultural clashes, such as between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, between the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda, and between the Serbs and Bosnians in the former Yugoslavia (McKeown, Haji, Ferguson, eds., 2016).

Who Is a Multicultural Person?

The article describes studies showing how multicultural communities and cultural mixing foster the formation of a multicultural mind and a multicultural person.

Intercultural Encounters and Cultural Mixing

Inter-cultural connections and cultural mixing in multicultural countries, states, and residential areas are conducive to the development of multicultural minds and personalities. These can be multi-national, multi-racial, multi-ethnic, and multi-faith neighborhood communities. People of different cultural groups live together and interact on a regular basis. The more they see each other, the more they like each other, unless some aversive circumstances appear.

Modern urban and metropolitan neighborhoods and the cultural borderlands (communities living near national borders) are often culturally mixed and multicultural. In such residential and workplace areas, the rate of intercultural encounters and relationships is often high. People of different races, nationalities, ethnicities, and faiths meet each other, date, marry, and raise their multicultural children.

Multicultural Communities that Are Conducive to Polycultural Development

In some residential or workplace communities, several cultures are concurrently circulated in the social lives of people. These conditions tacitly shape the culture of polyculturalism. Such polyculturalism implies that “individuals take influence from multiple cultures” (Morris, Chiu, & Liu, 2015, p. 631). The people in those communities naturally develop their polycultural personalities.

The culturally mixed and multicultural circumstances of living and working allow people to become bicultural and even multicultural. They develop their cultural competencies. Their minds and personalities become open and capable of perceiving and acting beyond cultural borders. They see in each other a person, not a member of a cultural group (race, ethnicity, or nationality).

What Does the Metaphor “Melting Pot” Mean?

The metaphor of the “melting pot” is widely used in the USA in reference to America’s status as a country of immigrants where all cultures merge. Although it has not always been and is not everywhere perfectly this way, nevertheless, this idea has always been an American cultural value and inspiration. The metaphor of the “melting pot” means that the cultural differences in the United States melt and blend together, like metals being melted down to become an alloy.

The Western states of the USA, and especially Hawaii, are excellent examples of such multicultural societies with many multicultural minds. Multicultural encounters in the lives of people living there are common. They do not pay much attention to the social and cultural attributes of others around them. They treat each other just as humans with their individual differences and personalities, rather than as members of social and cultural groups.

Who Are the Multicultural Minds?

Multicultural people are those who have good knowledge and understanding of two or more cultures. They have internalized two or more cultures in their self-awareness. These people identify themselves with two or more cultures. They can’t tell if they’re Americans, Mexicans, or Japanese. These people are somebody else. They are Mexican-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Arab-Americans, Chinese-Canadians, or Turkish-Germans. They have an identity mix of two or more cultures.

Due to the multicultural construction of their minds, such individuals are capable of functioning effectively in more than one culture. They know more than one language and develop multicultural competencies. They can think in ways that reflect multiple cultures.

There is strong evidence that being bicultural and having bicultural integration can have positive consequences for personal development. Multicultural individuals often develop multifaceted and complex emotions, cognitions, and personalities (Benet-Martinez & Haritatos, 2005; Hong, Morris, Chiu, & Benet-Martinez, 2000; Phinney & Alipuria, 2006; see for review, Karandashev, 2021).

Characteristics of a Multicultural Person

A multicultural personality is a set of attitudes, traits, and behaviors that predispose a person to adapt well to culturally different contexts, communicate effectively, and act adequately. Multicultural individuals are secure in their multiple identities, such as gender, race, ethnicity, and religion. They are intellectually curious regarding novel cultures, cognitively flexible, emotionally stable, culturally empathic, committed to social justice, and feel centered about spirituality. The traits of a multicultural personality are open-mindedness, social initiative, flexibility, emotional stability, and cultural empathy (Ponterotto et al., 2011; Van Der Zee & Van Oudenhoven, 2000).

Being open-minded

Being open-minded means having open and unprejudiced attitudes toward different cultural groups. Multicultural people are open-minded regarding cultural diversity. They do not care much about nationality, race, ethnicity, or religious faith. These people care more about what kind of person another individual is, what qualities she or he has, and what he or she is capable of. They do not have or, at least, suppress their explicit cultural stereotypes and prejudices. And anyway, they do not exhibit them.

Social initiative

Social initiative is a person’s trait expressed in the tendency to take initiative and approach social situations actively. Due to this disposition, multicultural people interact easily with people of other cultures. They are capable of making friends with other cultural groups.

Flexibility

Flexibility is a person’s ability to adjust their behavior to new and unknown situations. Such a person can change their communication and behavior according to a new cultural context. Multicultural individuals perceive new and unknown situations with flexibility. They consider them challenges rather than threats. They change their behavioral patterns in response to unexpected and limited situations that happen in another cultural context.

Emotional stability

Emotional stability is a personality trait of multicultural individuals that allows them to remain calm in stressful situations. Such emotional states are possible when a person encounters culturally different contexts and behaviors, when things do not go the way they do in one’s own culture. Because of this, a person may experience tension, social detachment, fear, frustration, and interpersonal conflict. Therefore, the disposition of emotional stability is useful for interaction with people from other cultures. It helps to cope well with such feelings of emotional discomfort and distress.

Cultural empathy

Cultural empathy is a personality trait of multicultural people that gives them the ability to emotionally understand and relate to the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of others whose cultural background is different from their own. Multicultural individuals function effectively with people of other cultures because they have an adequate understanding of those cultures. Cultural empathy is an important capacity that allows us to “read” other cultures.