Mate Selection in India: A Health Psychological Perspective
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Objective: In individualistic societies where mate selection is autonomous, interpersonal attraction and love are considered to form the central basis for marriage, while, in societies like India that are more oriented towards collectivism, the process of mate selection is more strongly influenced by the family. This familial and societal influence in a major life decision points to the central role that sociotropy may play in the process of mate-selection in the East. Sociotropy is defined as an individual's investment in positive exchange with others. Individuals who are sociotropic are therefore inclined to seek approval from others, and thus in the context of mate selection, would mean seeking approval from the family and community. Sociotropic personality traits would indicate a preference for a traditional mate selection process in India, as arranged marriage requires the individual to consider factors beyond their personal preference. Additionally, research has established that adolescents in India who have more traditional identities endorse less stress, better life satisfaction, and greater happiness. Therefore, in the present study, sociotropy is examined as a potentially adaptive and protective personality trait within India's collectivist culture. This hypothesis is founded on the notion that collectivist societies are known to value interdependence, embeddedness within the family structure, and relatedness. By appeasing the community members and the family they would likely avoid conflict or social rebuff ensuring less affective distress and better health outcomes. Method: The sample was comprised of college students recruited at St. Xavier's College, located in Mumbai, India. Upon consent each participant was given a packet of questionnaires. This sample was approximately 19 years of age and predominantly unmarried. A total of 212 individuals were recruited for the study, 73% of the population was female and the mean age of the sample was 18.8 (SD = 1.04), 45% were Christian, and 39% were Hindu. Results: Our study found that traditional identity was significantly related to pragmatic love (R² = .09, F(1,187) = 19.28, p < .001). Additionally, Indian students who respond in a more sociotropic fashion also endorsed a more pragmatic love style (beta = -.15, p = .035). Data indicated that sociotropic individuals expect that they will have an arranged marriage AUC = 60.4%, p = .02 (95% CI: .52 - .69). While traditionally Hindu students were found to have a preference for and an expectation of an arranged marriage and believed it to be most practical. Sociotropy was significantly related to affective distress (Nagelkerke R² = .04, chi² (1) = 4.54, p = .03) but is not related to self-rated health. Lastly, traditional identity was unable to predict less affective distress or better self-reported health. Conclusion: Despite its limitations, this study provides one of the first glimpses into an urban, educated and westernize group of young adults in India. The results of this study are important because they contribute to a greater understanding of how globalization has impacted attitudes and behavior of a younger Indian generation.
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