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Copyright
VOLUME 3 (2001), ISSUE 5  (SUMMER)

 

FRIENDSHIP PATTERNS AMONG UNIVERSITY STUDENTS IN FIVE CULTURES

ROGER BAUMGARTE, NAMI LEE AND STEVEN KULICH

 

SUMMARY

The cross-cultural literature has assumed that people in collectivist cultures such as those found in South America and Asia have a more exclusive and interdependent approach to close relationships than people in individualist cultures such as those in North America and Western Europe. People in collectivist cultures, it is thought, focus most of their social needs and energies on a small, tightly knit in-group of family members, work colleagues and friends, and socialize infrequently outside this intimate inner circle. By contrast, people in individualist cultures make less of a distinction between in- and out-group members, preferring to socialize in a more open and superficial manner with a larger variety of acquaintances. Applying this principle specifically to friendship, the cross-cultural literature has asserted that people in collectivist cultures have smaller numbers of friends, and that these friendships are more interdependent and of longer duration than those in individualist cultures.This research tested these hypotheses by surveying university students (N = 1,410) in France, Romania, Korea, China and the U.S. Results suggest that people in collectivist cultures do not have smaller numbers of "best" friends, nor do they report that their friendships are of longer duration and greater interdependence. Also, women reported more self-disclosure and expressiveness than men across all of the cultures in this study. These results suggest a need to reassess or to refine commonly held beliefs about how friendships differ over cultures.

KEYWORDS

Friendship - Culture - Individualism - Collectivism - Gender

AUTHOR'S PRESENTATION

Roger BAUMGARTE is a professor at Winthrop University in Rock Hill SC, USA. Nami LEE is psychiatrist in private practice in Seoul, S. Korea. Steven J. KULICH is an instructor at Shanghai International Studies University in Shanghai, The Peoples Republic of China.

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