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While researchers have long examined the dating and mate selection patterns among young adults, the vast majority have utilized Western samples. In order to further our understanding of the changing nature of dating behaviors and attitudes, this study examines a sample of young Chinese adults and focuses upon the gender differences therein. Using a foundation of social exchange theory, the analyses illustrate the differences between the dating attitudes and expectations of Chinese women and men. Per traditional expectations, both sexes place a low priority on sexual behaviors, yet more progressive attitudes and behaviors are also evident. Women, in particular, appear to be more focused on pragmatic qualities in prospective partners. The influence of individualist values and the changing cultural norms pertaining to dating and familial roles are discussed.
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R E S E A R C H Open Access
Dating attitudes and expectations among
young Chinese adults: an examination of
gender differences
Sampson Lee Blair
1*
and Timothy J. Madigan
2
* Correspondence: slblair@buffalo.
edu
1
Department of Sociology, The
State University of New York, 430
Park Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260-4140,
USA
Full list of author information is
available at the end of the article
Abstract
While researchers have long examined the dating and mate selection patterns
among young adults, the vast majority have utilized Western samples. In order to
further our understanding of the changing nature of dating behaviors and attitudes,
this study examines a sample of young Chinese adults and focuses upon the gender
differences therein. Using a foundation of social exchange theory, the analyses
illustrate the differences between the dating attitudes and expectations of Chinese
women and men. Per traditional expectations, both sexes place a low priority on
sexual behaviors, yet more progressive attitudes and behaviors are also evident.
Women, in particular, appear to be more focused on pragmatic qualities in
prospective partners. The influence of individualist values and the changing cultural
norms pertaining to dating and familial roles are discussed.
Dating and romantic relationships are a normal, yet essential, part of life during the
adolescent and early adult years. Beyond the basic desires which most individuals ex-
perience during this time, researchers have noted the relative significance of dating,
not only for individuals but also for societies. The initiation and maintenance of intim-
ate, romantic relationships have been linked with improved physical and emotional
well-being, stronger perceptions of community attachment, and better developmental
outcomes for the individuals (e.g., Amato 2010; Braithwaite et al. 2010; Proulx et al.
2007). During adolescence and the early adult years, dating enhances identity forma-
tion for individuals and provides socialization experiences which are necessary to
forming and maintaining intimate and interpersonal relationships in life (Chen et al.
2009). Although researchers have directed their efforts toward a better understanding
of the dynamics of dating and partner selection, focusing upon the influence of such
elements as the family environment (e.g., parental divorce, parental marital quality,
parent-child relationships), peer relationships, and community factors (Bryant and
Conger 2002; Cui and Fincham 2010; Yoshida and Busby 2012), the majority of studies
focusing upon dating and romantic relationships have utilized samples of Western
youth.
In China, marriage and family life continues to be a central element within Chinese
culture, with adolescents and young adults typically assuming that they will eventually
find a partner. What is lacking, however, is a broader understanding of how contem-
porary Chinese youth view dating and intimate relationships. Researchers have noted
The Journal o
f
Chinese Sociolog
y
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Blair and Madigan The Journal of Chinese Sociology (2016) 3:12
DOI 10.1186/s40711-016-0034-1
this shortcoming and have called for greater empirical examination of partner selection
in contemporary urban China (Xu et al. 2000) and particularly the attitudinal and ex-
pectational dimensions of dating (Hu and Scott 2016) and how these might vary by
gender (Shek 2006). The present study will seek to address these calls for empirical
study by using a sample of Chinese college students to examine the nature of attitudes
and expectations concerning dating among young adults in contemporary China. The
analyses which follow will attempt to more accurately discern the nature of such atti-
tudes and expectations, as well as differences which may exist between females and
males.
Dating and relationships
From a generational perspective, dating and romantic relationships in China are
regarded differently, as adolescents and young adults may have more progressive be-
liefs, as compared to their parents. Researchers have noted that Chinese parents tend
to oppose adolescent dating (Chen et al. 2009), perhaps due to their more traditional
perspectives. While there is no clear definition of what is an appropriate age for indi-
viduals to begin dating, those who begin dating at early ages will typically have to cope
with the opposition of parents (Wu 1996). Nonetheless, there is widespread acceptance
that dating is becoming increasingly popular among Chinese youth (Tang and Zuo
2000).
Among Chinese college students, in particular, dating has quickly elevated in popu-
larity (Yang 2011). Even the behaviors within dating appear to be rapidly changing over
time. Behaviors such as holding hands and kissing in public, which may been somewhat
taboo only a few decades ago, in China, are now becoming increasingly commonplace
(Xia and Zhou 2003; Yang 2011). For such populations, who are often away from the
eyes of their parents, college life may present opportunities for not only dating but also
sexual activity (Xia and Zhou 2003). Lei (2005) reports that over one third of college
students in China had become sexually active while enrolled in school. While dating
and sexual activity among Chinese college students have been previously noted by re-
searchers (e.g., Xu 1994), comparatively less is known about the attitudes and expecta-
tions of youth concerning these behaviors. In regard to premarital sex, for example,
some studies have reported that 86 % of respondents approve of it (see Tang and Zuo
2000), while other studies have noted that vast majority of men want their brides to be
virgins at the time of marriage (Ji 1990).
Seemingly, contemporary Chinese college students may be adopting a perspective
of dating and intimate relationships which focuses less on paths toward marriage
and more on immediate pleasure and gratification (Yang 2011). Much of this may
also related to institutional changes, as the interpersonal relationships of students
have been somewhat suppressed by colleges and universities (Aresu 2009). Univer-
sities commonly attempt to discourage sexual activity among students through edu-
cational programs and policies (Aresu 2009). Nonetheless, a comparison of college
students in 2001 and 2006 revealed that self-reported premarital sexual intercourse
rates went from 16.9 to 32 %, respectively (Pan 2007). Not surprisingly, Chinese
parents tend to strongly discourage their daughters and sons from becoming sexual
active, and many are opposed to their children being involved in dating relation-
ships, at all (Stevenson and Zusho 2002).
Blair and Madigan The Journal of Chinese Sociology (2016) 3:12 Page 2 of 19
The social and cultural context of dating
Aspects of dating, such as appropriate behaviors within dating and the appropriate age
at which to begin dating, are greatly influenced by the larger social context in which
they occur (Chen et al. 2009). Similarly, researchers have noted that attitudes and ex-
pectations concerning dating and intimate relationships are also affected by the larger
cultural context (Hynie et al. 2006; Sprecher et al. 1994; Yan 2003). But Chinas cultural
context goes back several thousands of years. It has a written language that has been in
use for the longest continuous period of time in the world, and it has the oldest written
history (Han 2008). Thus, in order to best understand and appreciate the social dynam-
ics occurring in present day China, one should first examine some of the important
long-standing traditions connected to its culture.
The traditional expectations concerning dating and marriage have a long history
within Chinese culture and are based heavily upon ancestor worship and Confucian
ideology. From this perspective, filial piety and the continuation of family lineage are of
tremendous importance (Han 2008). Hence, marriage (as the end goal of intimate rela-
tionships) is absolutely necessary and particularly so for males (Liu et al. 2014). One of
the enduring cultural traits is xiao,which, in the most basic sense, refers to filial piety.
The Chinese character for xiaocan visually be interpreted as a child with an old man
on his back (Han 2008). The long-standing expectation of xiaois that children devote
their lives, without question, to their parents and families. This involves, especially for
sons, the care for parents in their elderly years (see Ho 1996). Understandably, this
places great pressure upon unmarried sons to negotiate with his parents over the iden-
tification and selection of a suitable wife, who, in turn, will also provide assistance to
his aging parents. For sons, in particular, xiaomakes finding a spouse a priority and
consequently makes dating take on a different quality.
China is typically regarded as a collectivistic culture, in which obligations to the
greater society and social institutions (e.g., the family) are considered more important
than individual traits and needs (Kwang 2001; Ting-Toomey et al. 1991). Within indi-
vidualistic cultures, romantic love is regarded as essential to marital satisfaction and
well-being (Dion and Dion 1988). Hence, individual choice within dating relationships
and mate selection processes is more likely to occur within individualistic cultures. Col-
lectivistic cultures prompt young adults to regard love and romantic relationships
within the larger context of their familial and societal obligations (Yang 1968). This,
then, may lead young adults within collectivistic cultures to emphasize the pragmatic
functions of dating and eventual marriage, while having less concern with notions of
loveand romance(Hsu 1981).
Following the end of the reign of Mao Tse-tung, along with the collapse of the former
USSR, a fairly rapid pace of social, political, and economic changes occurred in China
(e.g., Croll 2006; Tang and Parish 2000; Wang 2004). The post-Mao Chinese govern-
ment has steadily encouraged economic modernization and the development of eco-
nomic practices based upon free market principles similar to those found in
Westernized countries. Social policies, such as the notable One-Child Policy,have
been relaxed over recent years (Denyer 2015), allowing for individuals to better seek
mates who are compatible in terms of number of children they desire to procreate.
Whereas Chinese culture once emphasized the role of family in the selection of part-
ners, with a strong tendency toward arranged marriages (Yang 1968), young Chinese
Blair and Madigan The Journal of Chinese Sociology (2016) 3:12 Page 3 of 19
adults now have greater choice in such decisions (Xu 1994). When combined with
other changes, such as higher rates of educational attainment for women (Li 1994;
Wu and Zhang 2010) and increased sexual activity among young adults (Feng and
Quanhe 1996), it is likely that both culture preferences and actual behaviors
concerning dating and mate selection may be undergoing substantial changes in
China, as well.
The economic changes have had a considerable effect upon traditional family struc-
tures and behaviors. The collectivist nature of Chinese culture has been altered by eco-
nomic factors in several substantial ways (see Yang 2011). First, there has been a steady
shift away from collectivism toward individualism, causing people to give priorities to
their own needs, rather than those of their family or larger society. Second, traditional
marital relationships, often formed as a matter of practicality, have diminished and
been replaced by a preference for relationships based on romance and Western notions
of love. Finally, Chinese women, by virtue of their increasing educational and occupa-
tional attainment, now have greater economic independence, thus lowering their need
to secure a spouse as a way of ensuring financial security. Hence, the traditional com-
bination of marriage, sex, and family, as upheld by long-standing Chinese cultural ex-
pectations, has become less influential, particularly in regard to serving as a foundation
of dating and partner selection.
Younger cohorts, who have had greater exposure to increasing individualism and
Western culture, may approach dating and mate selection in a different manner from
the previous generation. However, these younger cohorts must also recognize the exist-
ence of long-standing norms, as filial obligation remains a very tangible value in Chin-
ese culture (Chui and Hong 2006), and continues to bind children to their parents.
Indeed, recent studies have suggested that dating (Kim 2005) and decisions within mar-
riage, itself, are still strongly affected by Chinese parents (Pimentel 2000). Given the
relative paucity of research on dating and intimate relationships within China, it is diffi-
cult to accurately discern how these changes may be affecting young adultsdating be-
haviors. When combined with other changes, such as migration, urbanization, income
growth, increased social inequality, consumer culture, mass media, the Internet, and
personal communication devices, some qualitative research suggest that both attitudes
and actual behaviors concerning dating and mate selection are undergoing change in at
least one of Chinas largest cities. Research in Taiwan suggests that young adults are
shifting their perspectives on dating and romance, away from traditional expectations
(see Chang and Chan 2007). Zhang and Kline (2009), using a sample from mainland
China, found that many young adults found their partner on their own accord but still
maintained a desire to satisfy their parentswishes. In contemporary China, it is quite
likely that both traditional expectations and newer, more modern attitudes concerning
dating and partner selection are present. Whether one set of expectations is more influ-
ential, or if there is a merger or evolution of new attitudes concerning dating and part-
ner selection, remains to be seen.
Gender and dating
Among Chinese youth, attitudes and expectations concerning dating and intimate rela-
tionships will also likely vary between females and males. In terms of dating and part-
ner preferences, researchers have noted a considerable difference between the sexes,
Blair and Madigan The Journal of Chinese Sociology (2016) 3:12 Page 4 of 19
with a substantial double standard still prevailing (Piotrowski et al. 2016). For men, the
ideal quality in a woman is beauty, while for women, the ideal quality in a man is
intelligence (Xia and Zhou 2003). Generally, Chinese women are expected to marry at
an earlier age, while they are still at the peak of their physical appearance and capacity
to bear children, whereas men are expected to marry at a later age, after they have
achieved financial success (Piotrowski et al. 2016). Recent studies suggest that stereo-
typed perceptions of young men and women exist (Jankowiak and Li 2014). Men are
more often regarded as serious, ambitious, stubborn, deceitful, independent, and
powerful, while women are viewed as quiet, anxious, excitable, gentle, depressed, shy,
and jealous (Jankowiak and Li 2014).
In order to more fully comprehend these gender differences within Chinese culture, a
much longer historical context must be considered. Gender ideologies in China have
long been founded upon the general belief that women are supposed to be submissive
and secondary to men (Bloodworth 1973). With Confucian philosophy, women are ex-
pected to maintain the three rules of obedience: (1) obeying their fathers and brothers
prior to marriage, (2) obeying their husbands within marriage, and (3) as a widow,
obeying their adult sons (Chia et al. 1997; Yang 1968). This set of beliefs, while seem-
ingly outdated in contemporary society, is nonetheless one which has a very long exist-
ence within the Chinese culture. Indeed, several studies have suggested that even in the
face of modernization and the influence of Western culture, traditional gender attitudes
may persist. Researchers have found that many Chinese adults maintain traditional be-
liefs concerning the division of household labor (Cook and Dong 2011) and the respon-
sibilities of child care (Rosen 1992). Males are still generally assumed to occupy the
provider role within the family (Chia et al. 1997).
The relative roles and status of Chinese females and males have been patriarchal in
nature for many centuries, yet these long-standing differences may be changing. In
terms of educational attainment, for example, womens educational attainment rates,
which had previously lagged far behind those of men, are now rising. Indeed, both in
terms of enrollment and completion rates, women now exceed men in Chinese colleges
and universities (Wu and Zhang 2010). Womens employment, which has always been
guaranteed within China, is on par with that of men. Higher levels of educational at-
tainment, coupled with comparable employment and earnings levels, may lead Chinese
women to maintain more egalitarian attitudes concerning gender and gender roles.
How these gendered expectations affect contemporary dating attitudes and behaviors,
though, is yet unknown.
While addressing gender-related issues which may affect the dating and mate selec-
tion patterns of young Chinese adults, it is equally necessary to address the sex ratio of
the population, itself. One lasting effect of the one-child policy, when combined with
the traditional preference for sons, is that the current adult population contains more
males than females. Currently (based on 2010 census data), the sex ratio for the popu-
lation of never-married individuals, 15 years of age and above, is 134.5 (Liu et al. 2014).
Despite the recent changes to the one-child policy, the skewed sex ratio is expected to
create a male marriage squeezefor at least a few more decades, thus making it diffi-
cult for the current adult male population to find a wife (Guilmoto 2012). It is quite
likely that the sex ratio will have an impact, not only upon mate selection but also the
preceding dating behaviors. South and Trent (2010) have noted that the sex ratio
Blair and Madigan The Journal of Chinese Sociology (2016) 3:12 Page 5 of 19
imbalance is associated with higher levels of premarital sex among Chinese women but
is associated with lower levels of premarital sex among men.
Understanding gender differences in dating
Numerous perspectives have been offered as attempts to explain gender differences
which have been identified within dating and intimate relationships. Buss and his col-
leagues (Buss et al. 1990; Buss 2003) have suggested that there is an evolutionary basis
for such differences. Males, in this perspective, will seek females with greater physical
attractiveness, youth, and chastity, while females will seek out males with greater re-
sources (i.e., financial), intelligence, and ambition. Male preferences will be based upon
their desire to obtain a suitable mating partner, for the purpose of bearing offspring,
while female preferences will be based upon their desire for a provider/protector. Al-
though this perspective has generated considerable debate, it does not readily address
differences which may results from a specific cultural context.
Exchange theory may provide a foundation for better understanding the nature of
dating and partner selection in China. Parrish and Farrer (2000) posit that gender roles
within China have undergone considerable change, due to both micro-level mecha-
nisms of bargaining (e.g., within couples relationships) and macro-level shifts in exist-
ing social institutions (e.g., educational and occupational institutions). Given the
dramatic increases in both Chinese womens educational attainment and greater occu-
pational attainment, they now have greater status in many situations, specifically in re-
gard to bargaining and decision-making within personal relationships (Gittings 2006;
Guthrie 2008). From a historical perspective, the New Marriage Law of 1950 helped to
set into motion a shift toward improved statuses for women, by legalizing gender
equality and freedom of choice in both marriage and divorce. These improvements
have, in turn, set the stage for a considerable shift away from more traditional forms of
dating and mate selection and have also made the potential Westernizationof ideolo-
gies surrounding romance and dating relationships even more likely (Hatfield and Rap-
son 2005).
The imbalanced sex ratio may also create an environment in which women have
even greater influence, particularly in regard to dating and mate selection. Assum-
ing a strong preference for marriage, exchange theory would again support the no-
tion that women, as the smaller population, would have a decisive advantage. The
dyadic power thesis (see Sprecher 1988) posits that, in this instance, the relative
scarcity of women increases their dyadic power within relationships (see also
Ellingson et al. 2004). Hence, women would not only have greater control over the
selection of a partner but also wield greater decision-making power within the rela-
tionship. This perspective is supported byrecentstudieswhichshowthatChinese
womenhavebecomeincreasinglyselectiveinthemarriagemarket,preferringmen
with higher salaries, more prestigious occupations, and better living quarters (Liu
2005). Within the context of dating and intimate relationships, men with less social
capital (e.g., educational attainment, income, desirable housing) may find it increas-
ingly challenging to find a date, much less a spouse (see Peng 2004). Understand-
ably, the cultural expectation held by Chinese men that women should be docile
and tender may greatly complicate mens search for a partner, as Chinese womens
greater selection power, coupled with changes in the broader culture of dating,
Blair and Madigan The Journal of Chinese Sociology (2016) 3:12 Page 6 of 19
may directly counter long-standing gendered expectations (see Parrish and Farrer
2000).
Research questions and hypotheses
Given Chinas record setting leap into becoming a industrialized country in just a mat-
ter of decades on top of having a very ancient cultural history which serves as a source
of pride, one would half expect Chinas traditional culture to stand strong like bam-
booor, at worse, perhaps bend a bit. On the other hand, one would expect something
to give under such complete and rapid societal change. Young Chinese students should
be the members of society who would be most willing to abandon traditional Chinese
values and the associated behavioral processes which control dating (and marriage) and
move toward adopting Western style patterns where familial relationships are forged
out of affective individualism. Under this approach, marriages are based largely on love
type feelings and the decision about whom to marry resides mostly with the individual.
In an increasingly stratified society, the actors might feel most comfortable seeking out
life partners who occupy similar positions within the social structure (i.e., education
level, social class, occupational prestige, ethnicity). This process is called homogamy.
Hypothesis 1
The dating behavior of students should not be strongly influenced by parents who con-
tinue to hold a traditional perspective. In other words, elements of affective individual-
ism should manifest themselves.
An adolescent youth subculture is on the rise in China, and hence, the influence of
peers on the dating and courtship behaviors of individuals will increase and eventually
become stronger than that of the family. In the power vacuum caused by the decline of
parental influence, young people will most likely fill the void as the culture becomes
less backward looking and more forward looking.
Hypothesis 2
Peers and the adolescent subculture, as opposed to parents, should exert a significant
influence on the dating behavior of Chinese youth.
Chinese culture is thousands of years old. Thus, one should not expect the trad-
itional, conservative, patriarchal Chinese values will completely disappear among
present day Chinese youth and hence have no impact on dating relationships. Cultural
rebelsmale and femalewill be present, exploring the uncharted cultural waters.
However, cultural conformists who are reluctant to abandon family and tradition will
maintain some degree of cultural continuity across time and generations.
Hypothesis 3
Since culture and gender relations are generally resistant to rapid change in society,
centuries old traditional gender role attitudes should be found to continue to persist
among significant numbers of Chinese youth.
To the extent that traditional values about dating and relationships impact the
decision-making process, they may also be imbedded in the types of personal qualities
that singles are looking for in their potential mates. If traditional values continue to
Blair and Madigan The Journal of Chinese Sociology (2016) 3:12 Page 7 of 19
exert an influence on thinking and behavior despite changes in the social context, then
males and females will gravitate toward different criteria. Also, comparative research on
partner preferences finds that preferences fall into three broad or seemingly universal
categories: physical, practical, and personal. The extent to which these three categories
are gendered is not addressed in the literature. However, we expect to find them oper-
ating in our study population and to be gendered.
Hypothesis 4
Patterns in partner preferences which have been found across societies should be
present among Chinese youth, namely, concern about physical appearance, economic
prospects, and kind or compassionate personality of future potential spouses.
In addition to the above broad hypotheses, we also expect older students and those
who are religious to be slightly more conservative. Students who perform well academ-
ically might use that strength as a bargaining chip. Men could use it as an asset to be
sold on the dating and marriage market while women could use it as a signifier of them
possessing egalitarian values and seeking like-minded mates. It should be noted that in
the USA, students who exhibit high levels of dating behavior in high school are less
likely to be academic high achievers.
Data and methods
Data for this study were collected during the summer of 2015 at a large public univer-
sity in Shanghai, China. A random sample of students were approached and asked to
participate in a survey concerning dating and romantic relationships. Of those
approached, 87 % agreed to participate and completed the survey. After tabulation of
the responses, 17 cases were eliminated due to incomplete responses, resulting in a
sample of 341 students (191 females and 150 males). The students ranged in age from
18 to 22 and were all currently enrolled at the university. All of the students in the
sample were single and never married. Among females, 44.5 % described themselves as
currently dating someone,while 54.0 % of males described themselves as likewise.
A variety of questions were used to assess respondentsattitudes, preferences, and as-
pirations concerning dating and intimate relationships. In regard to dating, respondents
were asked to respond to the statement, I would like to date more frequently than I
do now.Responses ranged from strongly disagree(1) to strongly agree(5). Partici-
pants were also queried concerning their willingness to either kiss or have sex on a first
date. Respondents were offered the statements: (1) I would be willing to kiss on a first
dateand (2) I would be willing to have sex on a first date.Responses again ranged
from strongly disagree(1) to strongly agree(5). Together, these items provide a
broad range of assessment concerning dating and intimate relationships.
Respondents were also asked about a variety of family and individual characteristics.
In terms of their parents, participants were asked about the educational attainment of
their mothers and fathers. The higher of the two (when two parents were present) was
then included as a measure of the highest parental education, with responses including
eighth grade or less(1), beyond the eighth grade but did not complete high school
(2), high school degree(3), attended college but did not finish degree(4), four-year
college degree(5), and graduate or professional degree(6). Maternal employment
Blair and Madigan The Journal of Chinese Sociology (2016) 3:12 Page 8 of 19
was also assessed, with respondents being queried about whether their mother was
employed for pay outside the home (yes = 1, no = 0). Since the familial context is likely
to influence both dating and marriage patterns among young adults, participants were
asked: For most of the time when you were growing up, did you think your parents
marriage was not too happy (1), just about average (2), happier than average (3), or very
happy (4).Since western culture could potentially affect dating and marriage patterns
among Chinese young adults, the respondents were also queried as to whether English
was spoken in their homes (1 = yes, 0 = no). In regard to parental influence, participants
were offered the following statement: I would be willing to date someone of whom my
parents/family did not approve.Responses ranged from strongly disagree(1) to
strongly agree(5).
Individual characteristics were also examined within the survey. Respondents were
asked to provide their age and sex but were also asked a variety of other questions re-
lated to their own traits. Respondents were asked how often they attended religious ser-
vices, with responses ranging from do not attend(1) to once or more per week(6).
A basic measure of self-esteem was included, using responses to the statement: On
the whole, I am satisfied with myself.Responses ranged from strongly disagree(1) to
strongly agree(5). In regard to attitudes, respondents were asked about their beliefs
concerning gender roles within the family context. The statements used in creating an
index of gender attitudes included the following: (1) it is much better for everyone if
the man earns the main living and the woman takes care of the home and family, 2)
both husbands and wives should contribute to family income, 3) a husband should
spend just as many hours doing housework as his wife, and 4) the spouse who earns
the most money should have the most say in family decisions. Responses to each of
these statements ranged from strongly disagreeto strongly agree.After inverting
the coding schemes, the resultant combined measure of gender attitudes ranged across
a five-point scale, with a higher score indicating more conservative/traditional gender
role attitudes (Cronbachs alpha = 0.89). Respondents were similarly asked about their
pro-natalist attitudes by being asked to respond to the statement: a person can have a
fully satisfying life without having children.Responses ranged from strongly agree(1)
to strongly disagree(5). A measure of school performance was also included, with re-
spondents describing their overall grade performance. Responses ranged from less
than Ds(1) to mostly As(8).
Given the complex nature of dating and dating relationships, multiple measures were
utilized in these analyses. In regard to dating experiences, respondents were asked
thinking back about all of the dating experiences youve had, how long was the longest
romantic relationship you have had?Responses to this item ranged from less than a
week(1) to more than a year(9). A measure of respondentswillingness to date out-
side of their own social groups was included through the combination of responses to
three different questions. Respondents were asked if, in terms of dating partners, they
would be willing to date someone from (1) a different religion, (2) a different race or
ethnicity, and (3) a different country. The responses to each item ranged from yes,
no,and maybe.Affirmative responses (yes) to each were then combined to create
a measure of desired heterogamy (Cronbachs alpha = 0.87), with a range of 0 to 3. Par-
ticipants were asked how many of their close friends were currently dating or in a ro-
mantic relationship. Responses to this question ranged from only a few or none of
Blair and Madigan The Journal of Chinese Sociology (2016) 3:12 Page 9 of 19
them(1) to all or almost all of them(5). Participants were subsequently asked about
the specific characteristics which they are looking for in a partner. Respondents were
asked to indicate their preference for particular traits by stating whether each quality
was not at all important(1) to extremely important(7). Of the particular traits
which were queried, some were used to create indexed measures of a broader set of
characteristics. The first of these, pragmatic, is created through the combination of four
traits: well educated, wealthy, successful, and ambitious (Cronbachs alpha = 0.90). The
second, caring, is created through the combination of the following four traits: affec-
tionate, loving, considerate, and kind (Cronbachs alpha = 0.86). The third, appearance,
is created from the combination of four traits: sexy, neat, attractive, and well dressed
(Cronbachs alpha = 0.87). Together, these three measures provide a broader assessment
of qualities which the respondents might desire in a potential partner.
Results
Table 1 presents the mean levels of dating and marriage characteristics among young
Chinese adults, by sex. As shown, an overwhelming majority of both young women
and men would prefer to date more frequently. Approximately 66 % of women and
71 % of men expressed the desire to date more often. Given the age of participants in
the sample, this is to be expected. In terms of dating behaviors, however, significant dif-
ferences are shown between the two sexes. Respondents were queried about their will-
ingness to kiss on a first date. Here, significantly more men, as compared to women,
stated that they would be willing to kiss on a first date. It should be noted, nonetheless,
Table 1 Mean levels of dating and marriage characteristics among young Chinese adults, by sex
Females Males
Want to date more 3.85 (0.93) 3.87 (0.86)
Strongly agree 27.2 % 23.3 %
Agree 38.7 48.0
Unsure 26.2 22.0
Disagree 7.3 6.0
Strongly disagree 0.5 0.7
Would kiss on first date 2.65 (1.10) 3.27*** (1.12)
Strongly agree 3.7 % 8.0 %
Agree 17.8 14.0
Unsure 39.3 36.0
Disagree 18.8 27.3
Strongly disagree 20.4 14.7
Would have sex on first date 2.09 (1.27) 3.82*** (1.26)
Strongly agree 6.8 % 12.0 %
Agree 8.4 15.3
Unsure 19.4 35.3
Disagree 17.8 17.3
Strongly disagree 47.6 20.0
N191 150
Standard deviations are shown in parentheses; significance levels indicate difference between the means of females
and males
***p< .01; **p< .05; *p< .10
Blair and Madigan The Journal of Chinese Sociology (2016) 3:12 Page 10 of 19
that approximately 39 % of Chinese women and 42 % of men did not express a willing-
ness to kiss on a first date. This finding would appear to suggest the more traditional
Chinese cultural expectations pertaining to dating are still influencing dating attitudes
and behaviors among contemporary young adults. This possibility is further enforced
by the responses shown in regard to participantswillingness to have sex on a first date.
Although young Chinese men are shown to be significantly more willing to have sex on
a first date, as compared to young women, almost two thirds of the women and more
than a third of the men stated that they would not do so. Hence, while young men may
be significantly more likely to be willing to kiss and/or have sex on a first date, as com-
pared to women, it would appear that many, if not most, young men still adhere to a
more traditional or conservative approach to dating.
Table 2 presents the mean levels of family and individual characteristics among young
Chinese adults, by sex. As shown, the parents of both young women and men were re-
ported to have a relatively high level of educational attainment, with the typical parent
having at least some college. Among women, approximately 83 % reported that their
mother was employed outside the home, while the corresponding employment rate
among mens mothers was 77 %. Both young women and men reported that their par-
ents had relatively high marital quality. Assuming that these responses are reliable, it
would suggest that most young Chinese adults have had positive role models concern-
ing spousal roles and relationships. English was spoken only in a small percentage of
homes (13 % of womens families and 14 % of mens). Familial influence appears to be
slightly less influential among young men, as significantly more reported that they
would be willing to date someone without their parentsapproval, as compared to
women. This finding is somewhat intriguing, as given the patriarchal nature of Chinese
culture, one might anticipate parents being more cautious and involved in the dating
behaviors of their sons, as compared to daughters.
Table 2 Mean levels of family and individual characteristics among young Chinese adults, by sex
Females Males
Highest parental education 4.69 (1.25) 4.79 (1.23)
Employed mother 0.83 (0.37) 0.77 (0.42)
Parentsmarital quality 3.88 (0.97) 3.84 (1.08)
English spoken at home 0.13 (0.33) 0.14 (0.34)
Date without parent approval 3.09 (1.07) 3.37*** (0.94)
Age 20.31 (1.89) 20.69* (1.90)
Religiosity 1.85 (1.37) 1.98 (1.39)
Longest dating relationship 5.13 (2.68) 5.73** (2.37)
Desires heterogamy 1.18 (1.24) 1.12 (1.19)
Number of friends dating 3.20 (1.11) 3.13 (1.01)
Self-esteem 3.54 (0.90) 3.63 (0.92)
Conservative gender attitudes 2.48 (0.64) 2.83*** (0.61)
Pro-natalist attitude 2.68 (1.11) 2.64 (1.06)
College grades 2.31 (1.07) 2.41 (1.25)
N191 150
Standard deviations are shown in parentheses; significance levels indicate difference between the means of females
and males
***p< .01; **p< .05; *p< .10
Blair and Madigan The Journal of Chinese Sociology (2016) 3:12 Page 11 of 19
Men in the sample were shown to be slightly older than the women (20.69 versus
20.31 years of age, respectively). In regard to religiosity, most respondents reported par-
ticipating in religious activities only a few times each year. Self-esteem levels reported
by the respondents were moderately high, with no significant differences shown be-
tween women and men. Neither sex appeared to be overly anxious to become parents,
as their relative responses to the query concerning pro-natalist attitudes was somewhat
low. This is not entirely unanticipated, as one would tend to believe that college stu-
dents do not place parenthood high among their priorities at their age. It is worth not-
ing that young men do espouse significantly more conservative attitudes concerning
gender and gender roles within the family, in particular. Again, given the more patri-
archal nature of Chinese culture, this is to be expected.
In terms of dating, young men reported having had longer relationships in the past,
as compared to young women. In order to put this in context, however, it should be
noted that the mens longest relationships, on average, had lasted only a few months.
Approximately half of the friends of both women and men were reported to be cur-
rently dating. Hence, there is a potential for considerable peer pressure, in regard to
dating behaviors. In regard to potential dating partners, young Chinese women and
men appear to be only marginally willing to consider partners from outside their own
social groups (i.e., religion, race/ethnicity, and nationality). This may be a reflection of
the lack of diversity within China and certainly as compared to countries with more di-
verse populations.
Table 3 presents the mean levels of desired partner characteristics, as presented for
females and males. In terms of specific partner characteristics, young women expressed
a significantly higher preference for pragmatic qualities, as compared to men (4.90 ver-
sus 4.33, respectively). Across all four of the components, femalespreferences in a
Table 3 Mean levels of desired partner characteristics among young Chinese adults, by sex
Females Males
Pragmatic 4.90 (1.09) 4.33*** (1.25)
Well educated 5.34 (1.44) 4.80*** (1.40)
Wealthy 4.56 (1.36) 4.08*** (1.68)
Successful 4.90 (1.45) 4.41*** (1.52)
Ambitious 4.81 (1.44) 4.05*** (1.74)
Caring 5.27 (1.09) 5.20 (1.21)
Affectionate 4.71 (1.48) 4.91 (1.56)
Loving 5.47 (1.37) 5.48 (1.40)
Considerate 5.34 (1.40) 5.16 (1.40)
Kind 5.58 (1.47) 5.26** (1.55)
Appearance 4.73 (1.10) 4.84 (1.15)
Sexy 4.29 (1.57) 4.68** (1.50)
Neat 5.07 (1.36) 4.94 (1.47)
Attractive 4.96 (1.45) 5.11 (1.51)
Well dressed 4.61 (1.39) 4.61 (1.52)
N191 150
Standard deviations are shown in parentheses; significance levels indicate difference between the means of females
and males
***p< .01; **p< .05; *p< .10
Blair and Madigan The Journal of Chinese Sociology (2016) 3:12 Page 12 of 19
male partner where significantly higher than those of their male counterparts. Females
expressed a significantly higher preference for a male partner who is well educated,
wealthy, successful, and ambitious. While not statistically significant, women also
expressed a slightly higher preference for caring qualities. It is necessary to note, how-
ever, that females did express a significantly greater preference for a male partner who
was kind, as compared to their male counterpartssame preference in a female partner.
In regard to appearance, while men expressed a slightly higher preference for appear-
ance qualities, as compared to women, the difference was not significantly different,
overall. Men did express a significantly higher preference for a female partner who is
sexy,as compared to the preferences expressed by women for the same quality in a
male partner. Overall, these desired characteristics seem to support previously noted
gender stereotypes, with women expressing a stronger preference for more pragmatic
qualities in a partner, while men, to a lesser extent, express a stronger preference for
physical appearance. We will now examine how these various factors affect dating and
intimate relationships characteristics.
Table 4 presents the results of ordinary least squares regression models of dating
characteristics among young Chinese adults. The models are presented separately
for each sex, for each characteristic, so as to allow for a more direct comparison
of the effects of familial and individual traits. Previous analyses (not shown) were
performed to ascertain the need for separate models for each sex. In regard to
wanting to date more frequently, females whose parents have a higher level of edu-
cational attainment are shown to have a lower desire to date (b=.104). Given
that Chinese culture places a premium upon educational attainment (Stevenson
and Stigler 1992), this association may result from parentsdesire to see their chil-
dren succeed (i.e., placing greater emphasis upon education, as opposed to intimate
relationships). Femaleslevels of self-esteem are positively associated with wanting
to date more frequently (b= .143), suggesting that self-assurance and confidence
may play a substantial role in the dating patterns of young Chinese women. In a
similar manner, womens pro-natalist attitudes are positively associated with want-
ingtodatemorefrequently(b= .140). In regard to desired spousal qualities, a
stronger desire for pragmatic qualities is significantly associated with wanting to
date more often (b= .239). The strength of this association may imply that Chinese
women not only desire more pragmatic qualities in a spouse but perhaps also view
dating itself in more pragmatic manner. Caring qualities, such a loving and kind
partner, also yield a significant association with womens wanting to date more fre-
quently (b= .155), but the association is relatively meager. Finally, womensdesire
for appearance qualities is shown to be negatively associated with wanting to date
more frequently. Hence, women who place a greater premium upon physical ap-
pearance may actually be less likely to want to date more often.
In the comparable model of mens wanting to date more often, pro-natalist attitudes
yield a negative association (b=.147), which is opposite to the same effect shown in
the model for women. It is quite possible that men who espouse more pro-natalist atti-
tudes (i.e., desire children) may be more selective in their dating behaviors, thereby re-
ducing their desire to date many women. Young Chinese men who place more
emphasis upon caring qualities in a spouse (b= .377), on the other hand, are shown to
have a greater desire to date often. This difference between womens preference for
Blair and Madigan The Journal of Chinese Sociology (2016) 3:12 Page 13 of 19
pragmatic qualities and mens preference for caring qualities will be addressed more
fully in the discussion section.
Among women, parental educational attainment is significantly associated with the
willingness to kiss on a first date (b= .220). It is possible that higher parental educa-
tional attainment may also be linked with more progressive attitudes and expectations
about dating, on the part of parents. Not surprisingly, women who state a willingness
to date without parental approval are shown to be significantly more likely to kiss on a
first date (b= .233). Within the context of Chinese culture, both of these are likely to
be considered progressive and contrary to traditional standards of behavior for young
Table 4 Ordinary least square regression models of dating characteristics among young Chinese
adults, by sex
Want to date
more
Would kiss on
1st date
Would have sex on
1st date
Females Males Females Males Females Males
Highest parental
education
.104**
(.140)
.079 (.113) .220*** (.249) .156**
(.171)
.134* (.132) .119
(.116)
Employed mother .121 (.049) .114 (.056) .008 (.003) .190 (.072) .036 (.011) .125
(.042)
Parentsmarital
quality
.080 (.084) .015
(.019)
.073 (.064) .020 (.019) .042 (.032) .039
(.034)
English spoken at
home
.026 (.009) .045
(.018)
.058 (.018) .312 (.097) .496* (.130) .396
(.110)
Date without parent
approval
.005 (.006) .109 (.118) .233*** (.228) .046
(.038)
.323*** (.274) .096
(.072)
Age .036 (.073) .001 (.003) .046 (.079) .127***
(.216)
.092 (.137) .006
(.009)
Religiosity .095* (.141) .001
(.001)
.029 (.036) .186***
(.230)
.027 (.029) .134*
(.148)
Longest dating
relationship
.005 (.015) .017 (.048) .046 (.111) .049 (.103) .051 (.108) .049
(.093)
Desires heterogamy .023 (.031) .059
(.082)
.007 (.008) .219***
(.234)
.013 (.012) .081
(.077)
Number of friends
dating
.028 (.034) .002 (.002) .190*** (.192) .038
(.034)
.203*** (.179) .207*
(.166)
Self-esteem .143** (.140) .096 (.102) .169** (.139) .036 (.030) .195** (.138) .043
(.032)
Conservative gender
attitudes
.039 (.027) .118
(.083)
.180 (.105) .381***
(.206)
.260* (.131) .357**
(.172)
Pro-natalist attitude .118** (.142) .147**
(.182)
.295*** (.299) .076
(.072)
.197*** (.174) .167
(.141)
College grades .069 (.081) .054
(.079)
.094 (.092) .067 (.075) .150* (.127) .047
(.047)
Desired partner qualities
Pragmatic .239*** (.282) .052
(.076)
.025 (.024) .068
(.076)
.127 (.109) .072
(.071)
Caring .155* (.183) .377***
(.532)
.004 (.004) .032
(.035)
.154 (.133) .151
(.146)
Appearance .166* (.198) .119
(.159)
.039 (.039) .206*
(.211)
.183 (.159) .193
(.177)
R-square .209 .284 .291 .298 .371 .190
F2.684*** 3.082*** 4.171*** 3.294*** 6.006*** 1.825**
Standardized coefficients shown in parentheses; N= 191 females, 150 males
***p< .01; **p< .05; *p< .10
Blair and Madigan The Journal of Chinese Sociology (2016) 3:12 Page 14 of 19
women. Young women also appear to be readily affected by their friends, as the num-
ber of friends dating is positively associated (b= .190) with a willingness to kiss on a
first date. However, self-esteem yields a negative association with womens willingness
to kiss on a first date (b=.169), as does pro-natalist attitudes (b=.147). Among
young men, parental educational attainment reveals a negative association (b=.156),
which is directly contrary to the effect shown in the model for women. Clearly, the im-
pact of parental characteristics varies, depending upon whether they involve sons or
daughters. Older males are more likely to kiss on a first date (b= .127), as are those
who attend religious services more frequently (b= .186). It is noteworthy that the desire
for heterogamous relationships is positively associated with the willingness to kiss on a
first date (b= .219) among men, yet the same positive association is also shown in re-
gard to conservative gender attitudes (b= .381). This may possibly suggest that young
men with a more traditional set of attitudes wish to have both waysto date outside of
their own social groupsyet maintain a more traditional (i.e., patriarchal) role within
the relationship.
In regard to womens willingness to have sex on a first date, the willingness to
date without parental approval yields a positive association (b= .323), as does the
number of friends who are dating (b= .203). Since having sex on a first date repre-
sents a more tangible breech of traditional standards, it is logical that women must
also be willing to break away from parentsexpectations. Along the same vein, hav-
ing friends who are also dating may provide the social support and reinforcement
which make having sex on a first date seem more acceptable to young Chinese
women. However, womens self-esteem, along with their pro-natalist attitudes,
yields negative associations with the willingness to have sex on a first date (b=
.195 and .197, respectively). Having higher self-esteem, then, may provide
women with the confidence or security to not have sex on a first date, whereas
lower levels of self-esteem may bring about the opposite. The stronger desire to
have children, likewise, may lead young women to be more selective in their dating
behaviors or perhaps they may be more likely to associate sex with a more stable
and lasting relationship (such as marriage). Among males, the overall robustness of
the regression model is not as strong. However, conservative gender attitudes are
shown to be positively associated with mens willingness to have sex on a first date
(b= .357). Again, this may be related to the patriarchal roles found within broader
Chinese culture, such that young men with more traditional gender attitudes may
believe that they should assume a stronger role in the decision-making behaviors
involved in dating and dating relationships. The implications of these findings will
now be addressed.
Discussion and conclusions
This study was initiated to provide an exploration of dating and mate selection traits
among young adults in contemporary China. The sample used for these analyses is a
relatively small and select one and does not necessarily provide for making broad gen-
eralizations to the larger population of young adults in China. However, the findings
shown herein do offer fresh insight into both the nature of dating experiences and
some of the pertinent gender differences which exist.
Blair and Madigan The Journal of Chinese Sociology (2016) 3:12 Page 15 of 19
Overall, both young Chinese women and men expressed a desire to date more fre-
quently, suggesting that the more progressive notions of love and romance may be tak-
ing hold within Chinese culture. With the increasing influence of individualism and
consumerism, it is not entirely unexpected that Chinese youth should wish to emulate
behaviors which they believe to be more modernor western.Despite their seeming
eagerness to be more active in seeking dating partners, there also appears to be consid-
erable adherence to more traditional culture expectations. Specifically, only the minor-
ity of both females and males expressed a willingness to have sex on a first date. This
pattern is certainly more consistent with traditional expectations concerning what is
appropriate behavior for young adults in intimate relationships. As expected, signifi-
cantly more males than females expressed the willingness to have sex on a first date,
yet even among males, more expressed opposition, rather than a willingness to do so.
This would again seem to support the existence of long-standing expectations concern-
ing dating. Unlike more westernized beliefs concerning dating, sex and sexual behavior
still appear to be outwardly undesired by young Chinese adults of either sex. This con-
clusion is further supported by the unwillingness of both females and males to kiss on
a first date. Once again, more males expressed a willingness to do so, yet substantially
more males were clearly opposed to this. While these data are intended to provide an
exploratory examination of dating attitudes and behaviors, these findings do suggest
that both traditional and more progressive elements are concurrently present in the
dating traits of contemporary Chinese young adults.
Gender differences were also noted in regard to the desired partner characteristics, as
expressed by females and males. In keeping with long-standing gender stereotypes, fe-
males did express a greater preference for more pragmatic qualities in a male partner
(i.e., well educated, wealthy, successful, and ambitious). This supports previous research
which has noted such gender-based distinctions. Chinese men, on the hand, only par-
tially conformed to the gender stereotypes for males. Although men did express a
greater preference for a sexyfemale partner, no significant differences were shown for
the other attributes related to appearance. Hence, while it would appear that a double
standard does exist in regard to desired partner attributes, the more stereotyped expec-
tations are found among women and less so among men.
The multivariate models yielded several rather intriguing findings. In particular, it
was shown that Chinese women have a greater desire to date more frequently when
they have more pragmatic desires in a prospective partner. Chinese men, on the other
hand, have a greater desire to date more frequently when they desire a partner with
more caring qualities. On the surface, these two patterns offer some substantiation of
the traditional gender-typed beliefs that men are seeking love and romance from dating
(and from eventual marriage), while women are perhaps regarding dating as a pathway
to marriage and the subsequent security (e.g., financial) offered within. Obviously, add-
itional study is necessary in order to more accurately discern and understand these pat-
terns. These findings do lend support to exchange theory, as each sex does appear to
be approaching dating and intimate relationships with somewhat different perceptions
and goals.
The potential for more progressive (and westernized) traits can also be seen within
the models concerning kissing and having sex on a first date. Among females, the re-
gression models revealed that a willingness to date without parental approval (which
Blair and Madigan The Journal of Chinese Sociology (2016) 3:12 Page 16 of 19
would be directly counter to traditional cultural expectations) was shown to be associ-
ated with a greater willingness to both kiss and have sex on a first date. Essentially,
breaking away from parental control is associated with greater sexual expression among
young Chinese women. This would certainly be consistent with a tendency toward
greater individualism, as suggested previously. In addition, women were shown to be
more likely to kiss and/or have sex on a first date when they had more friends who
were also dating. Once, again, this suggests a strong peer influence, perhaps part of a
broader new youth subculture, which is generally considered to be antithetical to par-
ental and familial influence. Finally, women with pro-natalist attitudes (i.e., seeking to
have children, one day) were shown to be considerably less willing to kiss and/or have
sex on a first date. If the maternal role can be considered to be a more traditional role
for women, it would appear that young Chinese women are giving significant priority
to the later role of motherhood, as opposed to indulging in more immediate sexual be-
haviors in the context of dating.
Overall, these findings suggest that contemporary Chinese youth are perhaps forging a
path somewhere between the expectations of traditional Chinese culture and the more pro-
gressive expectations of an ever-changing modern society. Youth are often at the cutting
edgeof social change, and their attitudes and expectations are often portrayed as being dir-
ectly contradictory to and even boldly challenging those of their parents. These results do
not suggest that a polarized set of expectations are present; instead, it would appear that
Chinese youth have found a balance between the two and appear to be content with the
combination. As stated previously, while researchers have directed considerable efforts to-
ward better understanding the nature and dynamics of dating and mate selection among
young adults, most of these efforts have involved Western samples. Hence, much of the the-
ory and conceptual knowledge may not necessarily apply to non-Western samples. In par-
ticular, the appropriateness of applying of such existing theories and concepts to Asian
cultures has been called into question (Ho et al. 2012). The rapid economic and social
change which is occurring in urban centers of China, such as Shanghai, will eventually be
evident within the rest of the population, especially as the residential distribution shifts from
a rural to an urban majority. Researchers should attempt to address how these ever-shifting
social, economic, and political changes will affect not only the dating experiences among
the young adult population but also familial structures and behaviors in the longer term.
Competing interests
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Authorscontributions
SB and TM conceived of the design of the study. SB and TM drafted the questionnaire and reviewed it. SB and TM
carried out the data collection, data cleaning, and data entry. SB conducted the statistical analyses and wrote the
initial draft. TM reviewed and edited the paper. SB and TM both revised the paper, per feedback from reviewers. All
authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Author details
1
Department of Sociology, The State University of New York, 430 Park Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260-4140, USA.
2
Department
of Sociology, Mansfield University, 200 Pinecrest Manor, Mansfield, PA 16933, USA.
Received: 30 January 2016 Accepted: 19 June 2016
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Blair and Madigan The Journal of Chinese Sociology (2016) 3:12 Page 19 of 19
... For both genders, the rise of individualism has allowed young people to treat mate selection as a choice to fulfill their own needs and obligations, not that of their family and society as expected in collectivist cultures (Dion and Dion 1988;Yang 1968). Exploratory premarital relationships, dating, and even intimacy among college-age students have become more widely accepted in the past two decades (Yang 2011), and both young men and women wish to date more frequently (Blair and Madigan 2016). However, even in newer and more casual forms of matchmaking, such as online dating platforms, gender differences persist. ...
... Finding a partner who conforms to gender and generational expectations becomes a complicated negotiation process, as structural shifts in traditional norms and family values have introduced sharp discontinuities across both lines (Blair and Madigan 2016;Hu and Scott 2016). Understanding this negotiation process requires us to understand the preferences across both gender and generational influences and how they interact with each other. ...
... We appreciate that other variables, such as house prices and occupations, likely influence mate selection in China but the analysis of these other influences is outside the scope of our study due to a lack of consistent data on the blind date market placards and online profiles. Finally, prior research has empirically demonstrated that the variables analyzed in this study are relevant for determining partner selection in the Chinese context (Blair and Madigan 2016;Ong 2016;Su and Hu 2019;Xia et al. 2014). Age is commonly accepted as an attribute that influences partner choice (Pawłowski 2000) and age ranges are used to filter potential partners from an available pool of candidates (Schwarz and Hassebrauck 2012;Dunn et al. 2010). ...
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Online dating has modernized traditional partner search methods, allowing individuals to seek a partner that aligns with their preferences for attributes such as age, height, location, or education. Yet traditional forms of partner selection still exist, with continued parental involvement in the matching process. In this paper, we exploit different matchmaking methods with varying degrees of youth autonomy versus parental involvement. We use a unique dataset collected in Chengdu, China, where profiles from the blind date market ( n = 158) capture parental preferences and profiles from an online dating website ( n = 500) capture individual preferences. Regarding gender, we find that men generally display a desire for women younger, shorter, and less educated than themselves, while women desire older and taller men of the same education as themselves. With regards to parental influences, we find parents specify a narrower range of accepted partner attributes. Further, we find an interaction effect between gender and generational influences: the preferences of parents advertising their daughters on the blind date market show a greater discrepancy in attribute preferences to the online daters than parents advertising their sons.
... China is quite different from Western and African countries both in sex behavioral patterns and sex-related norms [7,11,12]. Some researchers argue that Chinese populations are strongly influenced by Confucianism and believing that women should stay virgins until they get married, and would rarely think of having sexual intercourse before age 15 [13,14]. However, significant and rapid social changes have taken place in China's coastal regions, majorly because of the urbanization and westernization during the past four decades [7,15]. ...
... Data were extracted from the baseline study of the Global Early Adolescent Study(GEAS). GEAS is a 5-year longitudinal study implemented through a collaboration of university and research institutions globally, focusing on gender norms in early adolescents(aged [10][11][12][13][14] and their relation to adolescent health, especially sexual and reproductive health, in disadvantaged urban environments. ...
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... The most valued attributes/qualities for a dating partner were things like honesty, loyalty, sense of humour and kindness. This finding is broadly in line with the findings of previous research about partner selection [17,26]. These valued characteristics are just as likely to be held by people with or without disability. ...
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This paper explores attitudes toward dating people with disability amongst young people in Australia and Hong Kong. Data relating to disability were extracted from an e-survey that investigated young people’s (n = 2208) experiences of and attitudes toward dating. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics while open ended responses were subjected to interpretive content analysis. When asked about preferred characteristics for potential dates, young people identified factors that were unlikely to be negatively influenced by disability, such as loyalty, honesty, dedication, humour, and kindness. Yet when asked whether disability would influence their dating choices, most said that it would and expressed an unwillingness to date people with disability. Young adults in Hong Kong expressed less openness to dating people with disability than those in Australia. Physical disability and mental health issues were seen as less of a barrier to dating than intellectual or developmental disability. Despite recent gains in public attitudes toward people with disability, improvements are needed in terms of young people in the general population viewing people with disability as suitable partners and thus, allowing them to enjoy equal rights to relationships and sexuality. Culture is an important determinant, indicating a potential for change.
... The findings of this study highlighted how intersectionality, social marginality, and resilience provide insight into participants' lived experiences of being foreign-born, female, and academic. The gendered expectations that participants reported were founded in traditional eastern cultures such as those of India and China, in which women are expected to single handedly helm the home while also raising their offspring, regardless of their occupational status (Blair & Mafigan, 2016;Dasgupta, 1998). The findings from this study illustrate how gender expectations hinder productivity and drain energy out of participants. ...
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This article reports on a study that examined the lived experience of 15 foreign-born female university faculty members through the qualitative research methodology called photo elicitation. The article investigates ways in which intersectionality, social marginality, and resilience offer a framework for understanding the participants’ lived experiences of being foreign-born, female, and academic in the United States. Findings demonstrate that as non-native-born women, the faculty members faced multi-faceted challenges in both personal and professional realms. Implications for the role of social work advocacy and higher education policy advocacy are discussed.
... In China, the average age at first marriage has been postponed to 26 years old (Peng, 2018), and this figure is notably higher for urban areas (e.g., 30 and 28 years old for male and female residents in Shanghai). The recent study suggests that for unmarried Chinese lovers, women not only take greater control over selections of partners but also wield greater decisionmaking power within love relationships than men, owing to China's imbalanced gender ratio of 48.47% females to 51.53% males (Blair & Madigan, 2016;Ritchie & Roser, 2019). However, such an initial dominant-inferior setup often changes after marriage as women want love, but men want wives (Singh, 2013). ...
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The days that precede Valentine’s Day are characterized by extensive gift shopping activities all across the globe. In China, where much shopping takes place online, there has been an explosive growth in e-commerce sales during Valentine’s Day over the recent years. This exploratory study investigates the extent to which each product category and each shopper group can exhibit romantic love within China’s e-market throughout the 2 weeks leading up to 2019 Valentine’s Day. Massive data from Alibaba, the biggest e-commerce retailer worldwide, are utilized to formulate an innovative romance index (RI) to quantitatively measure e-romantic values for products and shoppers. On this basis, millions of shoppers, along with their millions of products purchased around Valentine’s Day, are analyzed as a case study to demonstrate their love consumption and romantic gift-giving. The results of the analysis are then illustrated to help understand Chinese e-romance based on the perspectives of different product categories and shopper groups. This empirical information visualization also contributes to improving the segmentation, targeting, and positioning of China’s e-market for Valentine’s Day.
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Family pressure pushes a considerable proportion of Chinese queer individuals into heterosexual marriage. Few investigations have been solely devoted to examining family pressure. For a comprehensive picture of the issue, this study presents the results of a systematic review that identified 32 relevant papers to answer three research questions: (1) What are the antecedents (i.e., the drivers and sources) of family pressure to enter into heterosexual marriage? (2) What conditions shape the different manifestations of this pressure? (3) What are the consequences of being exposed to family pressure? Analysis revealed 10 drivers (reproduction, performing heteronormativity, maintaining face, experiencing stigmatized homosexuality, fulfilling familism, later-life care expectations, financial leverage, satisfying parental expectations of marriage, protecting parental emotions, and inquiries about marriage) and four sources (queer people themselves, parents, important others, and society); four conditions (gender, age, living arrangements, and family structure); and five consequences (resignation to heterosexual relationships, negativity toward queer identity, familial distancing, adjusted negotiation strategies for sexual autonomy, and emotional distress). Findings were used to formulate an extended definition of family pressure and to tentatively propose a conceptual model of family pressure for antecedents. The strengths and limitations of the study are also presented.
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Thesis
The sexual socialization of Asian American youth was examined using large-scale survey and focus group methodology. In the quantitative component, surveys were administered to 167 Asian American undergraduates who were predominantly second generation and East Asian in origin. Survey measures assessed the following types of variables: (1) Basic demographics; (2) Culturally relevant factors, including immigration history, acculturation, and ethnic identity; (3) Sexual Socialization Factors, including the quantity, quality, and perceived influence of parent-, friend-, and media-provided sexual messages; and (4) Level of dating and sexual experience. Results indicated that parents provided the least amount of sexual communication to Asian American children relative to other sources. Parents conveyed more sexually conservative messages, while the media conveyed more sexually permissive messages. Women who had rules about dating and received fewer messages from the media about the value of sexual exploration were significantly more sexually experienced. Men who received more sexual communication from friends and more messages from parents about the value of sexual exploration were also significantly more sexually experienced. In the qualitative component, semi-structured focus group interviews were conducted with 30 Asian American undergraduates. Results indicated that several features of Asian cultures contributed to Asian Americans' sexual socialization, including having: (1) an interdependent orientation that privileges the group over the individual; (2) a cultural emphasis on social propriety and saving face; (3) a cultural taboo that impedes parent-child communication about sex; and (4) a tight-knit Asian community through which sexual gossip spread like wildfire and sexually active girls risk developing a bad reputation. Whereas women perceived Asian culture to be sexually conservative and restrictive, they perceived mainstream American culture to be sex-positive, extolling the values of gaining pre-marital sexual experience. Tension was portrayed as the result of competing desires to fulfill their parents' expectations and finding those expectations to be overly rigid, unappealing, or inconsistent with expectations and ideology that they encountered outside of their homes. This study takes a cultural psychology perspective, based on the assumption that a process-oriented approach starting within one particular culture was most fruitful in understanding the normative developmental processes of sexual socialization among Asian Americans.
Chapter
Understanding interpersonal relationships requires understanding actors, behaviors, and contexts. This 2002 volume presents research from a variety of disciplines that examine personal relationships on all three levels. The first section focuses on the factors that influence individuals to enter, maintain, and dissolve relationships. The second section emphasizes ongoing processes that characterize relationships and focuses on issues such as arguing and sacrificing. The third and final section demonstrates that the process of stability and change are embedded in social, cultural, and historical contexts. Chapters address cultural universals as well as cross-cultural differences in relationship behaviors and outcomes. The emergence of relational forms, such as the interaction between people and computers, is also explored. Stability and Change in Relationships will be of interest to a broad range of fields, including psychology, sociology, communications, gerontology, and counselling.
Chapter
The life stage of adolescence now occurs in most corners of the world, but it takes different forms in different regions. Peers, with such a central role in Western adolescence, play a comparatively minor role in the lives of Arabic and South Asian adolescents. Emotional turmoil and individuation from family occur in some societies but not others. Adolescent sexual revolutions are sweeping through Japan and Latin America. In this 2002 book, scholars from eight regions of the world describe the distinct nature of adolescence in their regions. They draw on research to address standard topics regarding this age - family and peer relationships, schooling, preparation for work, physical and mental health - and show how these have a different cast across societies. As a whole, the book depicts how rapid global change is dramatically altering the experience of the adolescent transition, creating opportunities and challenges for adolescents, parents, teachers, and concerned others.
Chapter
The transition of courtship, mate selection, and marriage in China Daolin Yang, 77, a grandfather, is retired and lives in Hebei Province, China. In 1940, at 15 years of age, he married his wife, Yufen, then 13, in a village. Yufen's father was a rich farmer and a longtime friend of Daolin's father, who was a Chinese medical doctor, an occupation that provides both money and fame. A matchmaker proposed the marriage on behalf of the Yang family. Yufen's father accepted it. Daolin had not seen his fiancée until the wedding when he lifted up the red veil that covered her head. They have been married for 62 years and reared three children. “Mutual respect and caring” is how Daolin describes their marriage. He says that they married first and dated later. It is “cold at the start but hot in the end.” He does not approve of “modern marriage” ...
Thesis
In the past few decades, there has been a significant transformation from parentally arranged to self-directed marriages in urban China. This dissertation employs quantitative methods and the probability sample survey data collected among ever married women from Chengdu, Sichuan, the People's Republic of China, to answer several important questions that concern this transformation. These questions are: how is the marriage system transformation in urban China brought about? What are the important factors that cause this change? Would Chengdu women with free choice marriages feel happier or more satisfied with their marriages than those with arranged marriages? In order to answer these questions, two theoretical models are formulated. First, the author explicates a model that links structural changes such as the expansion of education, non-family employment, urbanization, and the role played by the socialist Party state system to the transformation of marriage arrangements in urban China. The results show that unlike Japan and Taiwan's experiences, the socialist Party state in urban China has played a significant role in transforming arranged marriages by transforming the urban economy and society and implementing the 1950 Marriage Law in the 1950s. This process exemplifies a different pathway toward marriage system transition under the socialist system. It is, therefore, argued that previous studies are inadequate, since the state as a change agent has been largely neglected. Another model that relates the transformation of marriage arrangements to marital quality is formulated. Marital quality has two distinct components: Marital Harmony and Marital Disharmony. The results from LISREL models indicate that net of premarital experiences, premarital and marital resources, the division of domestic chores, and the power relationship between husband and wife, free choice marriages produce more favorable marital outcomes than arranged marriages. However, the superiority of free choice over arranged marriages is reduced considerably at later stages. The results also show that there is no significant causal linkage between the transformation of marriage arrangements and Marital Disharmony.