Dating on the Edges of Two Cultures


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Dating on the Edges of Two Cultures A Qualitative Study on Mate Selection and Dating Behaviors of Chinese Students on a U.S College Campus
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Xie, Chen
University of Florida
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Gainesville, Fla.
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Master's ( M.A.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Sociology, Sociology and Criminology & Law
Committee Chair:
Koropeckyj-Cox, Tatyana M
Committee Members:
Shehan, Constance L


Subjects / Keywords:
chinese -- dating -- students
Sociology and Criminology & Law -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Sociology thesis, M.A.
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theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
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This thesis presents the research results from aqualitative study of Chinese international students who are currently studyingon a U.S. university campus. The research explores their perceptions andpreferences with regard to mate selection and dating behaviors within thecontext of their experiences of living and studying in a western setting. Thesestudents are of an age when dating and planning for future marriage areculturally expected, even as they focus on pursuing higher education andenhancing their future career options. Their status as international studentsin a foreign country provides an opportunity to examine the ways in whichmigration, social networks, and varying cultural expectations may influence andcomplicate their perceptions, preferences, and behaviors with regard to datingand mate selection. Research results supported the notions of segmentedassimilation of Chinese international students with regard to mate selectionand dating. The participants partially adopted American norms and ideologies onintimate relationships: dating is viewed as a casual way of ‘making friends’and ‘having fun’ instead of for the main (traditional) purposes of mateselection and family formation; singlehood and delay of marriage are viewed asacceptable alternatives; personal characteristics and emotional connections arevalued over social economic affluence and family background. However, someeastern traditional values and norms are still kept: parents’ acceptance of therelationship is still a ‘must’ for Chinese students; the tradition of ‘Dowry’and ‘Bride Price’ is still practiced; pre-marital intimacy and cohabitation are‘commonly practiced’ but have to remain ‘under the table’ (i.e., hidden fromparents and sometimes other social networks). The close network and communityamong Chinese students on the one hand provides support and assistance forseeking dates and potential mates, but on the other hand also functions toreinforce Chinese traditional cultural values within the group. Racial ornational homogamy is most commonly practiced and preferred, however, genderdifferences are apparent with regard to interracial relationships. Malestudents reported that they strictly preferred people of Chinese descent or atleast of Asian race for a future spouse. Female students were more open tointerracial relationships, particularly with white males, but they expressedconcerns about social pressures and negative perceptions of interracialrelationships with non-white men from minority groups. The findings arediscussed in the context of increasing access to international studies andpotential immigration among Chinese young adults
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by Chen Xie.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2013.
Adviser: Koropeckyj-Cox, Tatyana M.
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2 2013 Chen Xie


3 To My Mom


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to express my gratitude to my superviso r Professor Tanya Koropeckyj Cox for her useful comments, remarks and engagement through the learning process of this master thesis. Without her unlimited and unconditioned help and support, I would not be able to finish my research and thesis at all. She has provided me great mentorship and advice with her expertise, professional attitude and big heart; I was able to get through all the difficulties during my research. Also, I am here by express my special gratitude to my committee member Professor Constan ce Shehan. As a very helpful, supportive and cheerful professor and mentor, she has provided me great knowledge, understanding, and support and my gratitude to her cannot be fully expressed by words. I would also like to express my gratitude to my graduate program coordinator Professor Barbara Zsembik, without her professional advice and mentorship, I would not be able to finish my thesis and defense on time and keep on track in my program. I want to thank all the 21 respondents who were willing to p articipate in my research after I lost my initial data 2012 Aug in an unpleasant incident. I would also like to show my gratitude to all the participants who participated in my research before 2012 Aug. Your understanding during the unpleasant incident was great support to me and my research. Last but not the least, I would like to thank all my friends and family especially my beloved mother. All your love, understanding and support are great motivation and consolation to me.


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS pa ge ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ................................ ................................ ............................. 9 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 12 Research Questions ................................ ................................ ............................... 12 Background to the Research Questions ................................ ................................ 14 Identity of the Student Group ................................ ................................ ............ 15 Social Network and Community ................................ ................................ ....... 16 Mate Selection and Preferences ................................ ................................ ...... 17 Rationale of the Research Project ................................ ................................ .......... 18 Why Chinese International Students? ................................ .............................. 18 Why spouse/mate selection and dating behavior? ................................ ........... 21 2 OVERVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ................................ ................................ ....... 22 Theoretical Approaches on Spouse/Mate Selection Process ................................ 22 Theoretical Overview of Assimilation and Acculturation ................................ .......... 25 Previous Demographic Studies on Mate Selection ................................ ................. 28 Studies on Spouse/Mate Selection and Marriage of Chinese People ..................... 29 History and Life Styles of Chinese Immigrants in the U.S. ................................ ..... 32 Acculturation and Psychological Adjustment of Chinese International Students ..... 34 Summary and Reflection ................................ ................................ ......................... 35 3 METHOD ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 37 Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 37 Research Sample and Sampling Method ................................ ................................ 38 Setting o f the University Campus ................................ ................................ ..... 38 Chinese International Students on Campus ................................ ..................... 38 Sample of the Research ................................ ................................ ................... 41 Sampling Method ................................ ................................ ............................. 41 Data Collection ................................ ................................ ................................ 43 Data Analysis Strategy ................................ ................................ ..................... 46 Validity &Reliability ................................ ................................ ........................... 47 .......... 48 4 AMERICAN DREAM OR NIGHTMARE? ---THE LIFE THEY ARE LIVING .......... 51


6 Where Are They From And What Are They Here For? ................................ ........... 51 How Are Th ey in the U.S. ? ................................ ................................ ..................... 54 Where Are They Heading to? ................................ ................................ ................. 57 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 63 5 RA CE DOES MATTER: RACIAL ENDOGAMY AS A PRACTICED NORM, AND INTERRACIAL RELATIONSHIPS AS AN UNSPOKEN TABOO ............................ 64 Attitude Towards Interracial Relationships ---Gender Matters ................................ 65 ---Lack of Acquaintance as One Major Cause of Racial Endogamy ........................ 69 ---..... 72 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 78 6 DANCING CAREFULLY IN BOTH CHINESE AND AMERIC AN NORMS: SEGMENTED ASSIMILATION IN DATING AND MATE SELECTION BEHAVIORS ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 80 The Important Third Parties ................................ ................................ .................... 80 FACSS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 81 u ................................ ................................ ................... 81 ating ................................ ................................ 84 ................................ ................................ ........................ 87 Dating as Americans While Dating as Chinese --Bi Cultural Identity in Dating and Choosing Mates ................................ ................................ ............................ 91 What Are They Looking For in a Partner And Relationship? ............................ 92 Dating Like Americans While Dating as Chinese ................................ ............. 96 ................................ .............. 97 Bride Price & Dowry ................................ ................................ ......................... 99 --Premarital Intimacy as a Commonly Pract iced, Under the Table Norm ....................... 101 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 105 7 DISCUSSION AND CON C LUSION ................................ ................................ ...... 107 --Bi Cultural Identity and ............................ 107 Segmented Assimilation ................................ ................................ ....................... 107 Their Life in the U.S. ................................ ................................ ....................... 108 Racial Society ................. 108 Dating and Selecting Mates in Both Norms ................................ .................... 110 ................................ ................................ ................................ 111 APPENDIX LIST OF RESPONDENT WITH GENDER, RELATIONSHIP STATUS, MAJOR AND CHAPTER MENTIONED ................................ ................................ ...................... 114 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 115


7 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 120


8 LIST OF TABLES Table page 3 1 Quota Sampling Matrix --gender by relationship statuses (N = 21) ......................... 41


9 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS FACSS Friendship Association of Chinese Students and Scholars GPA Grade Point Average GRE Graduate Record Exam RENREN A Popular Chinese social network website with similar functions of Facebook TOEFL Test of English as a Foreign Language


10 Abstract o f Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts DATING ON THE EDGES OF TWO CULTURES: A QUALITATIVE STUDY ON MATE SELECTION AND DATING BEHAVI ORS OF CHINESE STUDENTS ON A U.S. COLLEGE CAMPUS By Chen Xie August 2013 Chair: Tanya Koropeckj Cox Major: Sociology This thesis presents the research results from a qualitative study of Chinese international students who are currently studying on a U .S. university campus. The research explores their perceptions and preferences with regard to mate selection and dating behaviors within the context of their experiences of living and studying in a western setting. These students are of an age when dating and planning for future marriage are culturally expected, even as they focus on pursuing higher education and enhancing their future career options. Their status as international students in a foreign country provides an opportunity to examine the ways in which migration, social networks, and varying cultural expectations may influence and complicate their perceptions, preferences, and behaviors with regard to dating and mate selection. Research results supported the notions of segmented assimilation of Chi nese international students with regard to mate selection and dating. The participants partially adopted American norms and ideologies on intimate relationships: dating is viewed as a (traditional)


11 purposes of mate selection and family formation; singlehood and delay of marriage are viewed as acceptable alternatives; personal characteristics and emotional connections are valued over social economic affluence and family background. Howev er, some social networks). The close network and community among Chinese students on the one hand provides support and assistance for seeking dates and potential mates, but on the other hand also functions to reinforce Chinese traditional cultural values within the group. Racial or national homogamy is most commonly practiced and preferred, however, gender differences are apparent with regard to interracial relationships. Male students reported that they strictly preferred people of Chinese descent or at least of Asian race for a future spouse. Female students were more open to interracial relationships, particularly with white males, but they expressed concerns about soci al pressures and negative perceptions of interracial relationships with non white men from minority groups. The findings are discussed in the context of increasing access to international studies and potential immigration among Chinese young adults


12 CHA PTER 1 INTRODUCTION processes, preferences, and dating patterns in the context of migration and the experience of living and studying on a U.S. campus. The study explores the u nique patterns in mate/spouse selection decision making for Chinese international students in America who have been immersed in traditional Chinese culture as well as exposed to American culture. The research is based on participant observation at two soci al events in the Chinese international student community as well as 21 in depth, qualitative interviews with Chinese male and female international students. Respondents represented a range of dating and relationship status categories, including single, in a local relationship, and in a long distance relationship. In this chapter I present the (a) research questions guiding this study, (b) the background for the research questions, and (c) the rationale for the research project. Research Questions The curren t project addresses the following six main research questions What are the standards of selecting spouses or mates among Chinese students? Standards of selecting spouses or /mates are likely to reflect both traditional Chinese values and westernized romant ic values. Also, as potential immigrants who may be seeking employment and permanent residency in the U.S. some materialistic values may be taken into account as part of the standards of selecting a future spouse or mate. How do western culture and life style influence spouse or mate selection preferences among Chinese students in the U.S. ? For those Chinese people who currently study and work in the U.S. their spouse or mate selection preferences may


13 differ from those of their Chinese peers who live in China. These differences might be the result of their acculturation and assimilation in the U.S. The study examines Chinese U.S. campus has influenced in their attitudes toward mate selection. Wha t are the means and media for Chinese international students to meet potential spouses or mates in U.S. ? Chinese students maintain a highly closed and interactive social network on many U.S. college campuses. This social network provides them with unique o pportunities to meet potential dates. The study examines how the relatively closed social network among Chinese students provides them with the means and media for seeking connections with friends and potential partners. What are the orientations and motiv ations for seeking spouses or mates among Chinese people in the U.S. ? Why do Chinese students look for their partners in America? Some may want to get married and build up their new homes in America. Others may just be interested in companionship in order to get over the loneliness and homesickness in a foreign country. Are they seriously dating? Why or why not? How do parents or families influence relationships and spouse or mate selection seeking in the U. S? In most cases, the parents are in China and o nly some of the parents may come to the U.S. for short visits. Most of the Chinese students keep in contact with their parents through the internet and phone calls. The current research students tell their parents that they are dating? How much do they reveal to their parents about whether and whom they are dating? Is there contact between their parents and their partners?


14 How does the racial dynamic in the U.S. mate selection preferences and attitudes towards interracial marriage? Besides students from China, American campuses also include immigrants and international students from a wide variety of background (e.g., Indians, South Americans, Europeans, Africans, etc.). Living and studying in the U.S. provides the opportunity for Chinese people to have contact with Americans and people of other nationalities. What are their attitudes towards dating or marrying people from another country or from other racial ethnic groups? Do they have any preferences regarding the nationality and race of their significant other? Who is favored? Why? Background to the Research Questions The cultural diversity of the United States is reflected in the large size of the international student population in American higher educational institutions (Bradley, Parr, Lan, Bingi, & Gould, 1995 ). According to data collected by the Institute of International Education, the enrollment of international students has increased significantly over the years. Recently, many U.S. educational institutions have further expanded their enrollment of international students as a way of broadening their reach academically and funding themselves through the income from tuition. At the same time, significant economic growth in China has increased the financial ability of many Chinese familie s, allowing more Chinese students to study in the U.S. As a result, the number of Chinese international students enrolled in U.S. educational institutions is significantly increasing. According to data from IIE (Institute of International Education), 194,0 29 Chinese international students came to U.S. seeking education in 2012 from China (Institute of International Education, 2012). And these numbers are likely to


15 continue increasing in the future. China is second only to India when graduate students and un dergrads are counted. A large number of potential immigrants enter the U.S. every year through the channel of education. Thus, the increasing number of incoming Chinese students results in a growing population of potential immigrants as many of these stude nts will seek employment after graduation and permanent residence in the U.S. According to data from the US Census Bureau's 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) and the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) for 2008 and 2 009, there were about 1.6 million foreign born from China (including Hong Kong) residing in the United States in 2008. In the decade between 2000 and 2009, more than 630,000 Chinese foreign born gained lawful permanent resident statuses in the United State s. Identity of the Student Group The current research focuses specifically on Chinese international students from visas, the types of non immigrant student visa s that allow foreigners to pursue education in the United States. Mo st of them finished their college education or at least high school education in China, and they came to the U.S. to pursue higher education and attend graduate or professional schools. Although these Chinese international students initially entered the U. S. with Non immigrant student visas, most of them expressed their desire to seek employment and permanent resident status in the U.S. after their graduations. I would describe their identity as students as well as potential new immigrants. As students and potential immigrants, these Chinese international students are experiencing academic pressure from school and work as well as going through the process of acculturation and assimilation. While all college students face


16 challenges adjusting to college life, Chinese international students face particular challenges such as adjusting to a different language and cultural values, academic expectations and preparation, and experiencing isolation, alienation, and potential discrimination ( Winkelman, 1994 ; Kline & Liu, 2005). Between disruptions to their established social network and the challenge of new cultural surroundings, Chinese international students are more suscep tible to stress and attendant psychological problems than American students. Cultural alienation, confusion, and conflict can then impede the process of achieving the level of acculturation desired by Chinese students ( Kline & Liu, 2005) Social Network and Community In their social lives, Chinese international students usually maintain their social networks within their group as they represent a unique population facing similar pressures of adaption and acculturation. Associations and societies formed a nd run by Chinese international students are common at U.S. colleges. These associations usually organize certain types of activities during traditional Chinese holidays and provide assistance to newcomers that have just arrived in the U.S. Chinese student s stay close to each other, and they usually prefer to go for interpersonal social support from their peers instead of choosing to seek help and assistance from school official s or local communities (Ye, 2006 ). The close social networks among Chinese stud ents make it possible for them to stay immersed in their traditional culture and social norms; in other words, these networks may slows down or even segment their acculturation and assimilation in U.S. society.


17 Mate Selection and Preferences With referenc e to spouse selection and marriage, the Chinese international students continue to practice endog amy, preferring a future partner/spouse that is Chinese or at least of Chinese descent. In addition, the associations and organizations run by Chinese students provide opportunities for single, unmarried male and female Chinese students to meet and get to know each other. Activities such as welcome parties for new students, BBQs, picnics and speed dating events are popular and common among Chinese students on U. S. college campuses. Filial piety beliefs are still very influential to Chinese international students, and they usually keep close contacts with their parents and family members in their home country (Kline & Liu, 2005). Such close contact with family mem spouse selection decisions and dating behaviors. However, since the Chinese students are gradually adapting to Western culture and being influenced by individualism in the west, their dating behaviors m ay also reflect their acculturation in the U.S. : Choosing a spouse or partner based on romantic, emotional feelings instead of expectations from parents; engaging in pre marital intimacy and cohabitation which is common and generally accepted among interna relationships instead of having the man pay for most or all of the expenses. Chinese international students are among the largest group of international students on most U.S. college campuses (Institute of International Education, 2011), and many of these students intend to stay and settle down in the U.S. (Institute of International ) Knowing the patterns and preferences with regard to their spouse or mate selection processes may allow for better predicti ons of future trends in immigration as well as better support for these students during their years of education on U.S.


18 campuses. On the other hand, there are also a large number of Chinese students returning to their home country right after finishing t heir study in the U.S. Their experience of being immersed in Western culture may also be influential for these understanding their experiences on the edge of two cultures may help to elucidate processes of assimilation and acculturation as they relate to dating preferences and behaviors. Rationale of the Research Project The significance of this research project that is related to two essential questions: Why Chinese internati onal students? Why focus on spouse or mate selection and dating behavior? In responding to these two questions, I provide the rationale behind this project. Why Chinese International Students? Research on diverse groups of people of different countries of origin is a relatively underdeveloped area when compared to studies of different racial ethnic minority groups in the United States. Studies on inter national students from a particular country are even rarer. Chinese international students would usually b e categorized under the label of students, new immigrants, Asian students, or Chinese. However, Chinese international students on U.S. college campuses represen t a unique and important group due to their special socio economic background, marital status, a nd immigration status. First of all, Chinese international students who come to the U.S. are usually from advantaged educational backgrounds and well off families, thus there socio economic status is different from that of earlier generations of Chinese immigrants who migrated


19 to the U.S. as labor workers and refugees (Holland, 2007). Most Chinese students who come to study in the U.S. are pursuing graduate and professional degrees. For them to be admitted into a graduate program in a U.S. educational in stitution, they need a relative competitive GPA (Grade Point Average) in college and score well in their GRE (Graduate Record Exam) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). They also need to go through application processes in U.S. graduate schoo ls and wait several months for news on the admission decisions. The relatively high admission requirements and potential high costs of attendance in most U.S. educational institutions allow only students with high academic achievements or well off families to be able to attend college and graduate school in the U.S. The Chinese students who end up attending American colleges or graduate schools are also relatively fluent in the English language, familiar with Western Culture, and are self motivated to come to study in the U.S. This pre selection effect may be correlated with unique acculturation and assimilation patterns different from those of earlier generations of Chinese immigrants. Secondly, as students, they are usually faced with not only pressures from acculturation and assimilation, like other immigrants, but also academic pressures from their new learning environment. For most international students, U.S. college campuses and academic programs are unique environments for international students to get first hand information on U.S. society upon arrival. International students have opportunities to get to know their fellow students of similar ages from both the U.S. and other countries. International students are required to take classes, finish assi gnments, and take exams in English rather than their mother tongue. For Chinese international


20 students, they also need to encounter considerable acculturative stress because of the differences in academic and social norms between Chinese and U.S. cultures (Yeh & Inose, 2003). Most Chinese international students are socialized with beliefs about the virtues of humility emotional restraint, self effacement, and saving face (Ho, 1989; Kim, Atkinson & Umemoto, 2001). For example, students from China are usual ly taught to be compliant, remain quiet in class, and withhold expressing their thoughts or asking questions until invited to do so by their teachers according to their collectivistic cultural tradition. But they are now expected by their American professo rs and peers to take the initiative in asking questions and expressing their opinions (Wang & Mallinckrodt, 2006). For them to measure up with their American peers and conquer language strains, they usually choose to socialize and work with their Chinese p eers in the same academic program or same class. This phenomenon is especially common in academic progr ams in the hard sciences and engineering where lots of Chinese students choose to enroll. e international students from the rest of the college student body. Thirdly, unique study abroad experience and culture backgrounds distinguish Chinese international students from other Asian students. Chinese students are usually categorized as Asian righ t upon their arrival in the U.S. U.S. becoming racial minorities in a new environment is a unique experience for these students who come from a re latively homogeneous country. Different from their American Chinese/Asian peers, Chinese international students have to adjust to both American culture and the racial dynamics in the U.S. Simply categorizing Chinese


21 tegory would neglect their unique experiences and their special angle of viewing the U.S. racial dynamic as foreign newcomers. Why spouse/mate selection and dating behavior? Some previous study has been conducted regarding acculturation, psychosocial and language adjustment, and family relationships of Chinese international students (Wang & Mallinckrodt, 2006; Ho, 1989; Kim, Atkinson & Umemoto, 2001; Yeh &Inose, 2003; Winkelman, 1994 ; Kline & Liu, 2005). However, the spouse or mate selection and dating behavior of Chinese international students have not been widely studied. Dating, coupling, and mate selection are important life stages for human beings, especially in young adulthood, and they fulfill important functions of socialization and recreation (Schwartz & Scott, 2012). Considering the fact that most Chinese international students on American college campuses arrived after high school and college at the age from 18 to 30, the majority of these students are unmarried and in the life stage of dating and getting involved in romantic relationships, mate selection and family formation. Having newly arrived in a foreign environment and being immersed in western cul ture may create unique norms of dating and mate selection for Chinese international students. us to see how the interface of Eastern and Western cultures affects mating and coupling us expanded understanding of the Chinese student population from the point of view of marriage and family concerns.


22 CHAPTER 2 OVERVIEW OF THE LITERATURE This section gives an overview of the literature and has been divided in to the following subsections: theoretical approaches on spouse/mate selection processes; theoretical overview of assimilation and acculturation; previous demographic studies on mate s election; studies on spouse/mate selection and marriage of Chinese people; history and life styles of Chinese immigration to the United States; and acculturation and psychological adjustment of Chinese international students. Th eoretical Approaches on Spou se/Mate Selection P rocess Research about marriages and families provides us with important observations about intimate relationships. Various marriage and family theories and perspectives provide us with basic frameworks to help in analyzing and understand ing observations (Schwartz & Scott, 2012) Social exchange theory and the theory of complementary needs provide conceptual frames and possible theoretical explanations for the proposed study. In addition, theoretical works on intermarriage and homogamy prov ide us with more in depth explanations of mate selection and related phenomena. Social Exchange Theory adopts an economic model of human behavior based on costs, benefits, and the expectation of reciprocity; for this reason it is sometimes referred to a s the rational choice perspective (Schwartz & Scott, 2012). The fundamental premise of social exchange theory is that people seek through their interactions with others to maximize their rewards and to minimize their cost ( Benokraitis, 2011) A number of s cholars have used social exchange theory to explain the process of spouse or mate selection. They argue that one person is attracted to another person because the latter can provide certain resources. Whether the two


23 people can be matched to each other dep ends on whether an exchange of resources can be formed between them. As a result, most people will continue in a relationship as long as there are more benefits than losses. There are different types of resources, such as wealth, personality, social status and capability. In perhaps the most popular interpretation of exchange theory as applied to mate selection, men are seen as exchanging their socioeconomic resources for women's sexual a nd domestic services (Schoen & Wooldredge, 1989). Hence, women are tho ught to be more concerned with the socioeconomic status of potential spouses, and men more concerned with physical attractiveness ( South, 1991). If there is a lack of resources on either side, there need to be certain kinds of reimbursement taking place su ch as dowry and bride price. For of men The Theory of Complementary N eeds was developed from social exchange theory. The basic hypothesis of the theory of complementary n eeds in spouse/mate selection is that each individual seeks within his or her eligible field for that person who gives the greatest promise of providing him or her with maximum need gratification. It is not assumed that this process is totally or even larg ely conscious (Winch, Ktsanes, & Ktsanes, 1954). The theory of complementary needs in mate/spouse selection suggests can be biological, social, economic and emotional. P revious theoretical work on intermarriage and homogamy helps the understanding of mate selection patterns. Mate selection and marriage patterns arise from the interplay between three social forces: the preference of individuals for certain


24 characteristics in a potential spouse, the influence of the social group to which one belongs to, and the constraints of the marriage market in which one is searching for a spouse (Kalmijn, 1991). Unmarried men and women seek spouses or potential dates within a marriage m arket where each individual considers a set of potential spouses/mates. Potential mates are evaluated on the basis of the resources they have socioeconomic resources and cultural resources are considered as the two most being while the role of cultural resources is based on a preference to marry someone who is similar. Preferences for cultural similari ty have been addressed most extensively in the social psychological literature on personal attraction (Byrne, 1971; Kalmijn, 1998). Similarity of values and cultures can be translated into mutual confirmation of each ading to personal attraction, so it is one of the an incentive to keep new generations from marrying exogamously because it may threaten the internal cohesion and homogeneity of the group. Group identification and group sanctions intervene in mate selection choices of grou p members as group members develop a sense of identification and an awareness of a common social history (Gordon, 1964) and then develop the tendency toward being attracted to someone who shares the same identity. The family, the church and the states are three


25 most important examples of parties that may sanction out marrying. Strong group sanctions on exogamy scare group members away from out marrying. The third important determinant of endogamy or exogamy is the marriage market (Kalmijn, 1998). Group si ze and gender ratio affect the possibility of endogamy by defining the availability of potential similar partners. An imbalanced gender ratio or small group size may prompt group members to seek alternatives outside of the group. Also, the chance of encoun size alone but also on the way a group is dispersed geographically (Blau & Schwarts, 1984). Concentrated geographic distribution generally contributes to a high rate of endogamy. Local marriage ma rkets in which unmarried people spend most of their time are often socially segregated and are therefore very important for explaining marriage patterns. Three local marriage markets have been considered most frequently: the school, the neighborhood, and t he workplace. Demographic distributions within local (Kalmijn.1998). Theoretical O verview of Assimilation and Acculturation Migration to another country necessitates some adaptive res ponse on the part of immigrants to the culture and society of the host country. In the case of Chinese immigrants in the U.S. some living habits and values are changed in order to adapt to American society. We may guess that their spouse/mate selection pa tterns are going through such changes as well. Classical assimilation theories were first conceptualized and developed to describe European immigrants in the United States. Assimilation was conceptualized as s come to share a common culture and


26 necessarily involved the desertion of ethnic cultural traditions and behavioral patterns and the adoption of those of the host soc iety in this case, the U.S. society is creating a melting pot for immigrants from all kinds of cult ural and social backgrounds. Gordon (1964), one of the premier exponents of this perspective, identified seven stages in the process of assimilation commenci ng with acculturation which he conceived of as the --and proceeding minority into primary group Assimilation theories have been criticized as inapplicable with regard to the experiences of Asian American immigrants to the U.S. and the flaws in the assimilation perspective have become more e vident. Alba & Nee(1999), and Zhou(1999) note d that the greatest shortcoming of the assimilation argument has been in its expectation of an mainstream American society and to gain equal access to the opportunity structure. In addition, assimilation theories do not account for structural constraints the most important being socio economic class and racial and ethnic systems inherent in American society that impinge on the abili ty of an immigrant group to assimilate into American society. This is especially evident in the conceptualization by Gordon (1964) of the desired cultural standard that represented the direction and eventual outcome of the acculturation process class cultural patterns of, largely, white Protestant, Anglo This conceptualization does not account for the heterogeneity in American society with


27 regard to social class and racial an d ethnic systems into which an immigrant group or people may assimilate. It should also be mentioned that assimilation theories refer largely to new and permanent immigrants. Several scholars proposed segmented assimilation in response to the flaws of assi milation theories (Porte & Zhou, 1993; Zhou, 1999; Zhou & Xiong, 2005). Segmented assimilation explained that immigrants tend to become an integral economic part of the host society while preserving ethnic culture and identity. In response to the flaws of assimilation theories, some scholars of migration and immigration developed theories of acculturation instead. Gans (1999) states that different from assimilation, which refers to newcomers leaving their original formal and informal ethnic associations and other social institutions and attempting to fit into the host society as non ethnic ones, acculturation refers mainly to the adoption of culture, behavior, practices, values, and lifestyles of the hosting society. The concepts of assimilation and accultu ration were developed to explain different waves of immigration in the U.S. Assimilation is more suitable in explaining the European cultures of different kinds. Acculturation is more suitable in explaining later ta tion after migrating to the U.S. and adoption of existing process in which new immigrants arrives in the host country making an effort to fit into the mainstream of the host society while preserving and holding onto their own culture and identity.


28 Assimilation and acc ulturation theory thereby provides a very good theoretical background on how immigrants adjust themselves in order to adapt or melt into American culture, which is relevant for understanding how American culture and ouse/mate selection processes in the U.S. Previous D emographic Studies on Mate Selection Many demographic studies have been conducted on mate selection, which provide us with larger overall background on social demographic differentials in mate selection p references and processes. Notably, gender differences in mate selection preferences have been reported as significant in demographic studies. Men place more value than women on physical attractiveness in a spouse, while women emphasize a potential mate's e mployment stability and earnings (South, 1991). However, economic more willing than women to marry someone who is not likely to have a steady job, someone who earns less, and someone who has less education (Sprecher, Sullivan, & Hatfield, 1994). But other studies show that among male respondents (not comparing to women), there has been a shift toward being less willing to marry a woman l acking steady employment ( South, 1991 ), though men who are looking for women with less education and who earn less money have a higher likelihood of marriage (Raley & Bratter, 2004). Several demographic studies on racial and ethnic intermarriages are found to be enlightening for the proposed study. Previous studies show that there is a rapid increase in the trend of inter racial and inter ethnic marriage in the U.S. (Qian &Lichter, 2011) Changes in marital assimilation have taken on momentum of their own; that is, population has fueled the growth of interracial marriages


29 with whites. Asian Americans are third most likely to marry whites following Hispanics and American Indians (Qian & Lichter, 2007). The overwhelming share of immigrants tend to marry same race immi grants rather than same race natives or other racial minorities. At the same time, racial minority immigrants are substantially more likely to marry their native same race counterparts than to marry Whites (Qian & Lichter, 2001). Interethnic marriage betwe en Asian ethnic groups is limited to several ethnic groups, but is much more frequent among natives than among immigrants. Among Asians, Japanese and Chinese Americans, who have lived in the United States for several generations, have the highest rate of i nterethnic marriage (Qian, Blair & Ruf, 2001). Studies on Spouse/Mate Selection and Marriage of Chinese People Many studies on spouse/mate selection and marriage of Chinese people have been conducted which have specifically focused on Chinese people who li ve in mainland China. These studies provide additional cultural background on the spouse/mate selection processes of Chinese people. Since the respondents of my study will be Chinese international students who were brought up in mainland China, it is impor tant to get the knowledge on the spouse/mate selection processes of Chinese people in mainland China and to compare potential differences between the spouse selection processes of the two groups and observe the influence of American culture among Chinese i nternational students. Both qualitative and quantitative studies have been done on spouse/mate selection of Chinese people. Xu and Fang (2002) conducted research on 1,328 dating advertisements published in major Chinese magazines using the method of conte nt analysis. The research found that there were gender differences in the standards of mate selection among Chinese unmarried young people. Male advertisers were more likely to describe


30 themselves as healthy, muscular, and wealthy. They were also more like ly to note the properties that they owned, such as having a self owned car, having two apartments, owning a company, etc. Female advertisers were more likely to describe themselves as young, kind, having great sympathy, tender, understanding and good at do ing housework. The research reported six most common standards of mate selection among Chinese people: personality, appearance, property, age, height, and previous marriage history. Xu (2000) and his research team conducted a survey in Shanghai and Harbin Cities to collect data on spouse/mate selection processes of Chinese urban residents. The research applied regression models to identify the most important mate selection preferences. The findings showed that Chinese people still valued stability and long lasting marriage. However, since the late 1980s, people began to pay more attention to socioeconomic and physical conditions. The results did not support previous studies on specific inter group differences: that people who were over marriageable age and h ad lower occupational status generally gave more consideration to economic features of potential mates or that young people paid more attention not to recent economic status but to the potentials which could be transformed into material gains in the future Xu posited that greater modernization of our living environment increases attention given to romantic love. Mate selection and family forming decision makings started to become a way for unmarried people acquire social economic status and material resour ces other than based on pure romantic unconditional love. William R. Jankowiak (1989) conducted mate selection and sexuality research in China, which included differences in mate selection standards between genders,


31 marriage patterns, and sexual behavio r. The researcher employed standard ethnographic techniques that included guided and open ended interviews, external and participant observation of domestic and public interactions, and collection of life histories. In this study, most of the data were col lected through interviews conducted by the researcher and his research assistant in Huhhot, one of the largest cities in northern China. The research found out that Chinese women preferred to dwell on romantic fantasies that focused on pulling men into int ense, emotional, and enduring emphasized the enduring qualities of the relationship. Chinese men consistently preferred a sexually attractive wife, desired sexual intercou rse more frequently than their spouses, assumed the primary responsibility for initiation of sexual intercourse, and were more inclined to seek partner variety. virginity in the spouse/mate selection process of Chinese people. Virginity is considered an important value in traditional Chinese culture. Premarital sexual involvement is scorned and regarded as a social vice. However, among the youths today, it has become more accepta ble. One study of sexual attitudes among 541 way or the other. Gender differences were found in this study with 55% of females versus 38% of males considering virginity important; 36% of males and 31% of females considered this concept too old fashioned; 26% of males and 13% of females did not have a n opinion one way or another (Zhen et


32 al., 2000). In another study, among those 20 to 30 years of age, 34% considered chastity outdated; 64% of males and 84% of females thought the concept unfair for women (Li & Xu, 2004). As virginity is still a sensitive topic in China, it is hard to get respondents for qualitative interviews; existing studies have all employed survey methods in data collection and quantitative methods in data analysis. The results of the above mentioned studies show that although virgini ty is highly valued in traditional Chinese culture, its importance has declined among young people for both genders. To be noted here, one comparative study on spouse/mate selection between Chinese and American college students has been conducted by Zhan g and Kline intention to marry and on relational commitment among 616 college students in both China and the United States. Compared with U.S. participants, Chinese students belie ved that their dating partners would meet their filial piety beliefs, that such beliefs were more important in their potential decision to marry their dating partner, and that they were more likely to comply with network members regarding the decision to m arry. Social networks were seen as having a significant influence on Chinese marital intentions and relationship commitment, whereas relationship length and beliefs about support, care, living a better life, and network influence predicted U.S. participant marital intentions and/or relationship commitment. History and Life Styles of Chinese Immigrants in the U.S. In absolute numbers, the United States remains by far one of the principal receiving countries of Chinese immigration flows and has experienced a steady increase in immigration since the end of World War II under the influence of the 1965 passage of the Hart Cellar Amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act


33 (Rumbaut, 1994; Fix & Zimmermann 1995 ; Lapinski, Peltola, Shaw & Yang, 1997). By no w, there are approximately 3 million ethnic Chinese living in the United States and they are becoming one of the largest visible minorities in the United States (Holland, 2007). The first immigrants from China arrived in the United States in the 1820s in small numbers and were mostly male labor workers. A larger number of Chinese immigrants arrived in the United States in the 1850s as a result of the discovery of gold in California in 1849 and an increase in political and economic instability in southern C hina caused by the Taiping Rebellion and the Opium Wars (Holland, 2007). Later on, more male labor workers entered the west coast of the United States to work on the construction of the railroads. However, after the transcontinental railroads were complete the demand for cheap Chinese labor dropped greatly. In order to minimize the perceived competition of Chinese laborers with white workers, Congress enacted the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882. This policy of excluding Chinese immigrants continued unabated in the U.S. into the first quarter of the 20 th century until the end of World War II. The United States repealed the Chinese exclusion acts in 1943 because veterans of Chinese ancestry fought for the U.S. in the Second World War. The Chinese Exclusion Repe al Act, commonly known as the Magnuson Act, allowed Chinese immigration to the U.S. in 1943. People of Chinese ancestry were allowed to immigrate to the U.S. and become naturalized citizens however the allowance every year was very small. It took another 20 years until Chinese immigrants began to be admitted into the U.S. under the same criteria as all other applicants of immigration ---through the 1965 passage of the Hart


34 Cellar Amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act (Holland, 2007) which elim inated regional quotas and restrictions on immigration. Several studies have explained life patterns of Chinese immigrants in the U.S. Most have focused on the differences between first and second generation Chinese immigrants, examining spouse/mate select ion issues and acculturation among Chinese immigrants and the second generation. The study by Rosenthal and Feldman (1992) revealed a significant association between generation in the United States and feelings of being Chinese among Chinese Americans. Fir st generation Chinese Americans were more likely than their second generation peers to identify themselves as being more which provided general information on the differe nces in self identity between the two generations of Chinese immigrants. Hynie, Lalonde and Lee (2006) examined parent child similarities in traditional mate preferences among Chinese immigrants in North America. They found that family allocentrism (the c reation of an affective or emotional dependency of a person towards one or several othe r people, because of a need for identity may, therefore, facilitate intergenerational transmission of values in immigrant Asian families, including preferences for marrying within the group. Acculturation and Psychological Adjustment of Chinese International Students By 2012 Chinese internation al students beca me one of the largest groups of international students on most U.S. college campuses (Institute of International Education, 2012 ). The large and increasing number of Chinese international students on U.S. college campuses has aroused attent ion, debates, and concerns in both


35 academic and non academic circles with regard to well being, adaptation, and acculturation of Chinese international students. Most academic studies of Chinese international students have come from areas of counseling, psy chology and education (Wang & Mallinckrodt, 2006; Kline & Liu, 2005; Wei, Heppn er, Mallen, Ku, Liao & Wu, 2007; Ye, 2006; Huang; 2005 ) These research studies mostly focus on cross cultural adaptation, language adjustment, acculturation, psychosocial adj ustment and social network support, and academic stress. Previous research has noted that Chinese international students face particular challenges, such as adjusting to a different language and cultural values, academic expectations and preparation, and experiencing isolation, alienation, and potential discrimination ( Winkelman, 1994 ; Kline & Liu, 2005). Chinese international students were found to be more vulner able than American students and other international students from western countries when facing academic pressures (Wei, Heppner, Mallen, Ku, Liao & Wu, 2007; Ye, 2006; Huang; 2005 ). However, their acculturative stress tended to decrease with greater lengt h of time staying in the United States and improvements in their English proficiency (Wei, Heppner, Mallen, Ku, Liao & Wu, 2007). Previous research also found that Chinese international students tended to maintain strong communication and close relationshi ps with their parents and family members in China. Social network was also very important for the cross cultural adaptation of Chinese international students; however, they tended to limit their social networks to Chinese nationals or people of Chinese des cent in the U.S. instead of socializing actively with other American students (Ye, 2006). Summary and Reflection The theoretical overview of the literature provides us with solid background regarding mate selection as well as immigration. However, the sum mary of previous


36 quantitative and qualitative research on the population of interest reveals important gaps in the existing research and in our knowledge of mate selection processes among Chinese international students. Research on Chinese international st udents has generally been limited to an emphasis on academic adjustment, cultural assimilation and psychosocial adjustment, whereas mate selection and dating behaviors have rarely been touched on by previous research. When lifestyle and mate selection topi cs have been examined, Chinese inter national students have been over generalized into the Feldman,1992; Hynie, Lalonde & Lee, 2006; Qian and Lichter, 2001; 2007; 2011). C selection and dating behavior need an independent study that distinguishes them as a unique population with the identities of U.S. In an effort to explore the underdeveloped ar eas with regard to knowledge of Chinese international students in the United States, this study chose to focus on examining the patterns of mate/spouse selection and dating behaviors of Chinese international students. The researcher adopted qualitative re search methods, including two observations (one participant observation and one non participant observation) and 21 semi structured qualitative interviews. The research method and sampling procedure will be explained in detail in the next chapter (Chapter 3).


37 CHAPTER 3 METHOD The current chapter outlines the methods that were used in this study and covers the following topics: (a) research design, (b) sample, (c) sampling method, (d) data collection, (e) analysis strategy, and (f) validity. Research Desi gn 19 international students are an understudied group and the focus of the proposed research. Th erefore, use of a qualitative research design has enabled me to examine how Chinese students themselves think about, interpret and understand their spouse/mate selection processes in the context of U.S society and how western culture influences their opin ions and practices with regard to spouse/mate selection and relationships. Through the study, I have sought to better understand mate selection issues among Chinese students and to generate rich and holistic data, with detailed descriptions and illustratio ns of the life experiences of the participants (Miles & Huberman, 1994). Qualitative research is also a particularly suitable approach when the research project is perceived to be sensitive and private by the participants and the researcher (Heyink & Tyms tra, 1993). Spouse/mate selection and especially dating patterns are private and personal subjects that are generally not to be openly discussed in public.


38 Drawing upon my own Chinese identity, I realize that this topic is most commonly discussed with clos e friends and family members among Chinese people. Even with family members and close friends, people are still conservative about talking about details of their mate/spouse selection standards and dating behavior, especially details regarding pre marital intimacy and cohabitation. Thus, qualitative research method has been used to enable me to get closer to the respondents and build up mutual trust and thereby to collect more complete data. Research Sample and Sampling Method Setting of the University Cam pus In this study, 2 observations and 21 semi structured qualitative interviews were conducted on a public university located in a college town of a southeastern state in the United States. This is a major, public, comprehensive, land grant, research unive rsity and it is also the oldest and most comprehensive university in its state (from the university website). Both undergraduate and graduate/professional degrees are offered in the university. This university is distinguished by its diversity of academic areas and the student population. According to data provided by the International Center of the university, there are 5,500 international students and 1,000 international visiting scholars hosted by the campus each year. Chinese International Students on Campus The data submitted to the Institute of International E ducation Open Doors Report (2012 ) shows that the university had 1,536 Chinese internationa l students enrolled in fall 2012 China has become the biggest contributor of international students on t his campus, followed by India, South Korea and Taiwan. The majority of Chinese


39 international students are enrolled in this university for graduate school. Most of them major in science, engineering and b usiness. Chinese international students on this univ ersity campus have formed several organizations to facilitate social networks and bonds. The student organization FACSS ( Friendship Association of Chinese Students and Scholars ), run by Chinese international students, helps to organize major events within the Chinese community. New arrivals are usually offered help by volunteers --fellow Chinese international students who arrived earlier. The forms of help usually include picking up from the airport, providing temporary accommodations, advising on housing o ptions, providing transportation to local stores, etc. Some students even receive advice in academic fields from their fellow Chinese students who arrived earlier. The same mother tongue and cultural background bring Chinese international students very c lose with each other. The accommodation arrangement among Chinese international students also reflects their closeness with each other. They usually choose to share apartments with fellow Chinese students rather than with American students or students from other countries. Most newly arrived students choose to live in apartment complexes with lots of other Chinese residents. There are a handful of apartment complexes known for their large Chinese resident populations in this college town. Chinese students u sually form close social networks and friendships with each other not long upon their arrival. The pressures from adjusting to various aspects of the new environment bring them closer to each other. Private dinner parties, BBQs, picnics, and other sorts of social get togethers are common and popular among Chinese international students. During their get togethers, their homesickness gets relieved to


40 some extent by having Chinese food, speaking their own mother tongue with their peers, and discussing shared pressures from school and cultural adjustments. Chinese international students in this university not only share close ties with each other in real life but also online in cyber spaces. Online chat rooms and discussion forums are common means of communicat ion among this population: students who were admitted each year usually have their own online chatting groups or forums to exchange information on housing options, part time work opportunities, and even experience of vehicle shopping and registration. Some major academic programs where there are a large number of Chinese international students have their own online forums in which to exchange academic information, including rating of each professor, course options, assignment requirements, review of exams, etc. Larger online networks, such as the email list serve among Chinese people in this college town, also exist. Anyone Chinese can join the email list serve for free and send out emails to everyone on the list. Carpool information, advertisements of used furniture for sale, advertising of used vehicles for sale, and information on available housing are commonly exchanged on this list serve. Although the Chinese internation al student population is large (over 1,500) Chinese students are bonded to each othe each other in private dinner parties and get togethers; they may have mutual contacts and heard of each other; they may have talked with each other online; or they may even just meet somewhere in Chinese grocer y stores and restaurants. Such close network bonds among Chinese international students make this population rather hard to reach without inside contacts.


41 Sample of the Research The sample for the study was made up of unmarried Chinese students on this uni versity campus. There were two groups included in the current study: the sample for the qualitative interviews and the sample for the observations. The sample for the qualitative interviews was made up of Chinese international students who were currently e nrolled in the university. I created a sample of sufficient numbers of women and men who were not married to ensure the reliability and interview. I interviewed 21 res pondents in total (11 male and 10 female), who were in one of three different relationship statuses: single/not in any romantic relationship; in a local romantic relationship; in a long distance romantic relationship. Table 3 1. Quota sampling m atrix --ge nder by relationship statuses (N = 21) Single In a local r elationship In a long distance r elationship Male 5 3 3 Female 4 4 2 The research also included two observations of the Singles' Day speed dating party for Chinese students, organized by FACSS, the Chinese international students organization. The sample for the observations consisted of the Chinese students who attended the two speed dating events on Nov 11 th 2010 and 2011. It is assumed that all peed dating parties were people not involved in romantic relationships or at least not in committed relationships. Sampling Method For the interviews, participants were recruited using a combination of quota, snowball sampling, and convenience sampling me thods. Although the population of


42 Chinese international students at the university was large enough to construct a department or organizations (Bernard, 2000). Quota sampli ng was therefore used to the final sample. As stated above, the participants were recruited to represent roughly equal numbers in three relationship statuses. Since g ender is an influential factor in dating and mate selection behavior suggested by previous research (Schwartz & Scott, 2012), I also took gender into account when sampling to make sure there was enough data from both genders among the three categories. Sn to populations (Bernard, 2000). Convenience sampling is useful for exploratory research when there are no sampling frames available (Bernard, 2000). I adopted convenience sampling me thods in the recruitment of research respondents. I posted recruitment emails on the list serve of subscribers of the FACSS ( Friendship Association of Chinese Students and Scholars ) list serve, offering the best way to reach the largest number of Chinese s tudents on campus. I also asked Chinese students that I knew to introduce me to people that they thought might be interested in participating in my research. However, since my research did not offer monetary or material reimbursement (and possibly also bec ause of the relatively personal nature of the research topic), the response rate from the email list serve was relatively low. To ensure validity and objectivity, I did not recruit people that were very close to me before I interviewed them. I have mainta ined contact with some of the respondents after the interviews, and they have been helpful in providing suggestions and commentary from their points of view on


43 my research. These key participants also helped me to get in contact with several other particip ants so that I could get enough interview participants in a short amount of time. Finally I was able to recruit 21 people in total. Data C ollection Gubrium and Hostein (1998) have described the interview as a means of contemporary story telling, where peo ple divulge life accounts in response to interview questions. The goal of this study was to examine the stories and perspectives regarding dating and spouse/mate selection among Chinese international students on this U.S. college campus. Interviewing was u sed as one of my data collection methods. Semi structured, in depth interviews are effective in facilitating the exploration of topics more openly than in a structured interview (Esterberg, 2002). Most importantly, the semi structured interview format enab led me as the researcher to remain in control of the interview while allowing the participants the flexibility to express their perspectives on the topic in a non structured manner and elaborate to the greatest possible extent; it facilitated the investiga tion of leads and topics as they emerged in the course of the interview (Bernard, 2012 ; Esterberg, 2002). The interviews were conducted with attention to the convenience of the participants. The interviews are all conducted in Mandarin Chinese as it was mo re comfortable for the researcher and respondents to communicate. Using the same mother tongue brought us closer so that my participants were more willing to tell me more inside stories of their lives. Interviewing provided a way of generating empirical da ta about the social world by asking people to talk about their lives. In this respect, interviews are special forms of conversat ion (Holstein & Gubrium, 1997). In order to get more vivid data, I wanted to make the participants comfortable. Interviewing the m at


44 their office or home where they were familiar helped to ease nervousness and allowed them to chat comfortably. Conducting the interview with them in their first language helped to avoid difficulties in communication and allowed them to talk more comfo rtably. I interviewed the participants on their own and brought the proper documents from IRB (Institutional Review Board), and I ensured them that their privacy was protected. I asked questions appropriate to their relationship statuses: single, in a loca l romantic relationship, or in a long distance romantic relationship (see Appendix section for detail s for the questionnaires). For those people who were single, I asked about their previous dating stories in the U.S. and their plans for finding new dates and mate selection. For those participants who were currently in a relationship, I asked questions about their current relationships and their future plans with their current partners. Interviewing people gets information about their attitudes and values a nd what they think they do. What people say they do and what they actually do are not always the same (Schwartz & Scott, 2012). However, when we want to know what people actually do, we can conduct direct observations, watching people and recording their b eh avior on the spot (Bernard, 2012 ). Two direct observations were therefore included in the research design -one participant observation and one non participant opportunit ies for Chinese international students to meet their potential dates and was organized by FACSS ( Friendship Association of Chinese Students and Scholars ) Nov 11 th 11 is considered to be m


45 annual speed dating event among Chinese international students in 2010 and 2011. As suggested by Bernard (2012), participant observation reduces the problem of reactivity, of people changing their behavior when they know they are being watched or studied. Participant observation also helps to get vivid and inside information through natural hang outs and conversations with participants. So I conducted a participant observation in the 2010 speed dating event organized by FACSS. I signed up for the nd actually had conversations with over 50 male students at the speed dating event. I wrote up detailed observational notes as soon as I arrived home. After having conducted one participant observation, I noticed that I was only able to talk with male stu dents who were looking for potential dates at the event. However, the behaviors of female students were automatically neglected by me during the observation since I only had limited attention and I had to talk with male students only 2012), I was only able to record some aspects of the environment around me and was not able to get an overall picture, so I decided to go back to the event the next year conducting a non parti cipant observation. In the next year, November 2011, I conducted a non participant observation of the speed dating event organized by FACSS. I joined the group of people who were FACSS members working on organizing the event. I got permission from their g roup leader and was able to observe the event as the speed dating activity objectively and even had the chance to chat casually with


46 some of the participants when they came for a snack or soda. I noted down my observations as detailed as possible when I got home as I did the first time. Data Analysis Strategy The interview transcriptions and field notes were analyzed qualitatively by identifying themes as they emerged from the data, a process called coding, which is mainly adopted a modified grounded theory approach when analyzing the data. The grounded theory approach is the method of analysis of data that uses codes to connect data and theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). It is especially suitable for analyzing interview transcripts since it helps in identifying any emerging themes and patterns from the conversations. My first step in an alyzing the data was to develop a summary sheet that generalized the main theoretical and methodological themes that emerged during the interview and observation (Bernard, 2012). This procedure helped me to get an overall picture of each interview and obse rvation and helped me to further id entify themes and patterns artway transcription and observation notes. Coding started with identifying some general themes derived from the reading of the literature with the addition of more themes and su b themes as the analysis progressed (Miles & Huberman, 1994). I started with generalizing some main themes: gender differences in mate selection, influence of social network, attitudes towards pre marital intimacy, influence from parents, etc.


47 During the c oding, as more sub themes appeared, I paid more attention to how the emerging themes were linked to one another and how these sub themes linked to the main themes --a process of building conceptual models (Bernard, 2012). While examining the linkages betwe en the sub themes and main themes, I composed memos Once a conceptual model selection processes emerged from the data, I searched for negative cases which did not fit into the model and thus suggested new connections that needed to be adjusted and accommodated into the main themes (Be rnard, 2012). The results of the data analysis will be reported in detail in the following two chapters. Validity &Reliability To ensure validity of the research, I tried my best to rely on proper data collection processes, proper data management, and prop er research instruments. As stated above, data were collected through two means: interviews and observations. These two data collection processes complemented each other and helped to minimize any biases of the sample. Through interviews, I collected in de experiences. Through observations, I could get insights into how people actually behaved when looking for dates and potential relationships. Observation notes were composed in Chinese, and all of the interviews were recor ded and transcribed in Chinese. The data in the original Chinese language were then analyzed in Chinese using the analysis procedure described above. Using the


48 same language to collect and analyze the data helped to reduce mistakes and gaps between transla tions. Limitation & Reflexivity: Insider Pers As a Chinese international student myself, I enjoyed the convenience of being an been hard to bias and limitations. My identity as a member of the group I was studying brought me into the research as I saw and heard stories of spouse/mate selection from Chinese international students that were familiar to me. We have relatively close social networks in this college town in which people are highly connected with each other. The experiences and conversations contributed to my interest of the current study. Being Chinese enabled me to better understand the spouse/mate selection situation of Chinese people. I am familiar with the cultural background regarding marriage and family among Chinese people, including moral values and family values. Holstein and Gubrium (1995) explained th within which the interviews are embedded can be a valuable resource for assisting am familiar with the cultural backgrounds, I was able to probe into some of the sensitive questions in a non threatening manner and in a culturally appropriate way especially for s towards sexual behaviors. Being Chinese also implied that there were shared of meanings between my participants and I where we were both aware of the contextual nature of specific referen ces to union formation. Denzin and Lincoln (2003) argue that these common


49 understandings act like a mnemonic device wherein certain terms convey certain ideas. Knowledge of the Chinese language is also a clear part of the advantages of being an insider as a Chinese student. Sharing the same first language with the participants allowed me to appear to be more fam iliar and more understanding to them. Being able to conduct interviews in Chinese also helped to avoid the difficulties of communication and nervousness of the participants. However, one potential disadvantages of being an insider is that if mutual underst anding is implicitly assumed, my respondents may have I tried to ask and confirm with them more details and encourage them to explain their points by asking questi d phrases such her kind of intimacy behaviors. Such phrases a re commonly used to imply sex and intima cy by Chinese people. As a Chinese student, I understand their implications but I would confirm with them in order to make sure they were really meant to imply the mean ings as I understood them nights together and live together some time, do you mean sex and intimacy were Being Chinese decreased the difficulty in finding enough participants. As I have many personal connections with Chinese people in the university and I was friendly with participants through these connections. Also as a Chinese international student, I was able to observe the speed dating e vents as they are only open to Chinese students.


50 Being Chinese, however, had one potential disadvantage for my research. Although I had less difficulty finding respondents, recruiting respondents mostly through personal connections might have caused some b ias in the sampling. People out of the reach of my social network would not have been included in the sample. As Chinese students in town had a relatively tight and close social network, my respondents might also have worried about their privacy being disc losed due to my Chinese identity. Since I am very likely to share mutual friends with them and I am more likely to attend social events with other Chinese people, they may have worried that I might talk about them and disclose private information However, I worked hard to build up mutual trust with my respondents with sincerity and academic seriousness and by as suring them that the study was approved and supervised by the Institutional Review Board of the university. I assured all respondents of the ethica l conduct of the research, and that I would maintain their anonymity in all the transcriptions and research papers. Most of the respondents seemed to behave in a relaxed way and felt non threatened during the interviews, but I did have people further ques tioning me regarding my intentions and confidentiality issues. Although my insider status presented a few challenges, overall, I believe that the research mainly benefitted from the access and cultural knowledge of being an insider.


51 CHAPTER 4 AMERICAN DREAM OR NIGHTMARE? ---THE LIFE THEY ARE LIVING This chapter describes the overall lifestyles of Chinese international students that I am studying. Knowing the lives that Chinese students are living on a U.S. university campus is essential for developi ng further understandings of their mate selection and dating behaviors. In order to analyze their mate selection and dating behaviors using theory of intermarriage and homogamy we have to be able to consider the situations in which the respondents are placed. The following exploration includes three major themes: social economic well being of the respondents; psychological well being and pressures from academic work and assimil ation; and. uncertainty with regard to future plans Where Are They From And What Are They Here F or? All of the respondents in the current research have come from m ainland China and are of Chinese nationality. Although mainland China has a great geographica l variety with regard to levels of social economic development, all respondents reported that they were from urban areas and above average family backgrounds. Over half of the respondents (14 out of 21) were pursuing a doctoral degree in their academic pro of 21), their current university was the first educational institution they had ever attended overseas. Among the 14 doctora l students I interviewed, only one was not fully funded by his program; the rest of the students were funded with teaching or research assistantships in their academic programs. All of the M.A students were self funded through family support or wages from part time jobs. For example, Julia, a student fr om


52 ex pectations and her own feelings All interviews were conducted in confidentiality, and the names of interviewees are withheld by mutual agreement all names appear below and throughout the thesis are aliases. international students. My parents pay for my tuition and my other costs, I feel bad but they told me that they consider it as an investment for my U.S. degree. I guess even I go back to China, I will be better off than others who only have Chinese degrees. (Julia, single, Non science/engineering professional student) International study was p erceived by families as an important investment in the future, but it was also connected with feelings of guilt among the students and obligations to parents. Financial support and closeness with parents was also discussed ations about whether to pursue job opportunities in the U.S. or return to China. My parents know my plans from the very beginning and they try to support worried about them if I am goi they can come to visit me too. They still have each ot her, and their jobs, my dad has engineering major) Male students in particular expressed a desire to supplement their financial support from parents with their own earnings, and they were concerned about establishing their independence from parents. Most of my tuition and living expenses come from my parents...I do not have to work for money and my paren ts advised me not to do that because course work and I am a man. I want to be independent and not taking engineerin g major)


53 These results confirmed my expectations regarding the characteristics of Chinese international students: they are generally a well educated group and from families of above average socio economic backgrounds. Although some research oriented gradu ate programs in U.S. universities do provide fellowships and other kind of teaching/research assistantships to graduate students, the available funding has decreased since the 2008 recession making it harder for Chinese students who seek to attend graduate school in the States to get funded. Also many U.S. universities have opened greater admission opportunities to self funded Chinese students as a substitute for the funding shortages they are experiencing; more self funded Chinese students have been coming to the United States for college and graduate educations. The cost of attending a U.S. institution is very high for most Chinese families, and only relatively wealthy families can afford to send their children to U.S. colleges and graduate schools. In a d dition, the standard tests (TO E F L and GRE) that students must pass to apply to U.S. universities are also expensive, potentially limiting the applicant pool to students from more affluent families. Students admitted with financial aid and assistantships a lso have to cover up front costs of application. In this way, students from rural areas and poor family backgrounds in China are less likely to pursue the opportunity to attend college or graduate school in the U.S. and Chinese international students who have come to the U.S. are usually from stronger education backgrounds and well off families. Their select social economic and education backgrounds raise important questions about their potential mate spouse selection and dating behaviors: Are their family opinions more influential to them due to the financial support they had received from their families? Are they adjusting and assimilating better than other foreign populations


54 in the United States due to their high levels of education? Will they be more o pen and accepting to western culture and social norms? All these questions will be explored in greater details in later chapters. How Are T hey in the U.S. ? From the last section we see that all the participants in the current study came from urban and abov e average family backgrounds in China. Well educated before arrival, they are here in the U.S. for more higher education. As part of the general college/graduate student population, they are faced with academic challenges from school, including research, a ssignments, and exams, as are all other students. As foreigners and newcomers in the U.S. society, they also face a series of difficulties --difficulties associated with a ssimilation and acculturation. For most international students, U.S. college campuses and academic programs are unique environments for international students to get first hand information on U.S. society upon arrival. International students have opportuni ties to get to know their fellow students from both the U.S. and other countries of similar age. International students are required to take classes, finish assignments and take exams in English rather than their mother tongue. Chinese international studen ts also encounter considerable acculturative stress because of the differences in academic and social norms between Chinese and U.S. cultures (Yeh &Inose, 2003). As part of the group myself, I experienced the above dif ficulties and adaptations firsthand. My interest in the situations of other fellow Chinese international students arose from bot h my personal curiosity and from some themes that emerged from the first few interviews.


55 (Intervi single, engineering major) ed to my engineering major) Both Li nda and Jeremy were engineering students who put most of their attention in their school work and research. For students like them, they were indeed looking forward to new dates and relationships, but their occupied life spared them no time to actively loo king for dates nor relationships. Some r elationships that happen accidentally not looked for, but arose out o f interactions, social networks. My fianc was very helpful to me, he took care of me when my car had problems, when I was immobile without my ca thinking of getting in a relationship with him back then, but he was really helpful during my difficult time and you know how important it can be right? (Int erviewer: I sort of understand but can you give me more details about car was malfunctioning when one day I could local relationship, science major) the new environment when facing unmanageable life difficul ties. He sort of took care of everything for me


56 me after I Since he was really helpful to me and my roommate, we sort of naturally roommate has boyfriend in California, the othe r one was in a relationship shopp store any more science/engineering professional student ) hers actually pus hed them into their current relationship. Facing difficulties of settling down in a new country, Doris and Diana chose to develop a relationship with some one Some couples Met They feel it is very hel pful to have people to talk to and provide support. Such psychological need led them into relationships. (Interviewer: Could you please tell me the characteristics of your girlfriend t was her first impression on me. (Inte rviewer: why that is attractive to you? Can you say something more?) Well, I know most man are attracted to some happens all (Interviewer: I see, so you meant that your girlfriend is a good listener and science major)


57 From the above interviews we can see that t he lifestyles of Chinese international students influence their mate selection and dating behavior to a great extent: Linda and Jeremy indicated in the interview that they were looking forward to getting into a relationship and finding a romantic partner b because they were too occupied with research and school work and had no time and opportunity to meet anyone. Jeremy s were common among the single participants in my research: they were serio usly occupied with getting used to the new environment and adjusting to the new research and learning environments. They generally put dating and mate selection on the bottom of their to do list. On the other hand, the unique experience of living in a fore ign country studying as international cases. Living abroad as a foreigner experiencing difficulties in life and study made people like Doris and Diana feel attracted to peop le that could help them through life difficulties such as fixing their car and taking them grocery shoppi ng. Their needs for help at the beginning of the migration process and settling in to a new living environment led to the development of romantic relati her car while Diana and her roommates need lifts to the grocery store. Migration made Daniel changed his mate selection preference: he indicated that most men would Where Are They H eading to? During the interviews, t he majority of the respondents (19 out of 21) indicated that they intended to stay or at least try to stay in the U.S. seeking employment and


58 immigration after graduation. Although these students indicated that they would make an effort to look for employ ment opportunities in the U.S. or at least in North America (e.g., U.S. or Canada), all of them expressed worries for their uncertain futures. For James and his fianc, the prospect of seeking work and settling down in the U.S. was a topic of concern from the beginning of their relationship: U.S. ] after we graduate. We are kind of on the plan for getting a job, settling down, getting our green card applications on the way, and then thinking ab out he is going to graduate soon, in jobs but it is not much easier even we decide to go back home, right ? Hard (James, in a local relationship, engineering major) James and other respondents w ho were not single also mentioned that they had to make sure with their significant others tha t they were on the same plan before their relationship became more serious, and now they were working on putting forth their plans together. For Harry, future plans about work involved balancing concerns about his parents irations and work. I was thinking of going back to China after I graduate for sure because my parents are getting older and they need me nearby, especially my father, he than me and if I go back we will have to deal with international U.S. city where she lives] to see her whenever I have time off, it costs money and time, but it is still better than she ki U.S. for Ph.Ds. was her


59 (Interviewer: If she insists on staying here after her gra duation, would you ouple has similar situations in life like this, we kind of have to work through it together, not one compromises the nce relationship, science major). ho was also in a relationship, showed how one not intend to come to the U.S. for graduate school but wa Although he had a strong wish of returning home and to take care of aging parents, Different from students who are faced with making joint decisions with thei r significant others, single students have more freedom in choosing their future job locations and career opportunities: they are more likely to go with the flow in their career ying to find a jo California for job hunting friends and previous classmates working in Silicon Valley there, and I am heading there hoping they can recommend me in to their stay here forever or go ba ck to China after I got a few years of work experience in the U.S. the Sta internship opportunities for us (electronic engineering majors) there in m (the school he applied)


60 am still deciding between going to either those two schools or just go look ? will want to get a job in the U.S. ering major). Each of these students expressed a desire to stay in the U.S. after graduation yet they were also unsure if things would go as they have planned. Some of them talked about the possibility of going back to China sometime in the future, but ove rall their decisions to try to stay first had been made. Earlier generations of Chinese immigrants who came to the U.S. as cheap labor and refugees had to stay as they had paid large amounts of money to the agencies that brought them over; they had no cho ice but to work in the railways or other kinds of construction to pay off the costs of entry. Also, earlier generations of Chinese immigrants were mostly from poor family backgrounds and came from politically and economically uncertain circumstances (Holla nd, 2007). Going back to China would have most of them ended up staying with no other alternatives. Different from earlier generations of Chinese immigrants described by Hol land (2007), this current cohort of Chinese students has come from good educational backgrounds and will be graduating being compared to earlier generations, it is easie r for these Chinese students to seek However, their better off backgrounds and resources also provided them with more choices and uncertainties. The choice of going back to China meant being able to stay closer to their families, friends and potentially better or more certain career


61 degrees, and they would not face potential discrimination against immigrants and minoriti es. Although not the majority, some respondents indicated that they were going back to China right after their graduation. For Mandy, the decision was connected to her I am heading back to China for sure, even not right after graduation only I get a super well paid job upon graduation, like more than 10,000 USD get post s in industry, but not graduat definitely not coming back to the U.S. so I guess I will head back, too. (Mandy, in a long distance relationship, science major). For Jeremy, who was single, the decision to return to China was related to the possibility of staying close family members and confidence of a future successful career with his newly achieved U.S. for jobs in China yet b ut I guess will be in Beijing, Shanghai and big cities am not used to here (the U.S. will get good jobs in China with my degree so I am not too worried about Both Mandy and Jeremy indicated that their decision to head back home was also related to their negative perceptions of life in the U.S. and the fear of potential discrimination they may come across as new immigrants in the U.S.


62 I was pretty active and traveling but not for long time residency. I think I will get better job For students like Mandy and Jeremy, the choice of staying in the U.S. was influenced by a desire to be united with families and partners an d better career opportunities. Although I only had one case in my sample in which the respondent was in a committed long distance relat ionship with a partner in China, this (Mandy) showed the possible influence of a relationship partner on decision making about whether to return to China. Mandy told me that although she agreed with her what she saw as the impossibility for her fianc to move back to the U.S. : her fianc clearly expressed his intention of staying in China pursuing more successful career and unwillingness to return to the U.S. From the stories of Mandy, Harry, and James and many others, we can see tha t Chinese international students. However, for single students like Linda, Jennifer, Wayne and Jeremy, since they have no strings attached from any romantic significant other s; they feel they have more flexible options as they follow opportunities Based on


63 international students, but there was little discuss ion of this issue in my interview transcriptions. Summary This chapter summarized the lives that Chinese international students are living on this U.S. university campus. For them, coming to the U.S. to pursue an education was a dream and it was the dream that they had worked toward for a long time, preparing for tests, completing their applications, and putting together all of the other in the U.S. they came across a series of difficulties in both school and everyday life. The experienced difficulties of living in a foreign country and studying as international students restrained some of them from actively seeking mates or dates even if they really wanted or intended to. Also, their unique experiences as international students shaped some of their mate/spouse selection standards. For some of them, mate sele ction decisions were influenced by their need for help in t he new living and lea rning environment. After experiencing difficulties and hardships studying and living in the U.S. by trying to stay for employment and immigration after graduation. Of course, most of them expressed their concern over their uncertain future and how such uncertainty would affect their relationships. Further research needs to be conducted on Chinese immigrant couples who have managed to stay and get through the immigration process and how these processes influenced (or were influenced by) their relations hips and family considerations.


64 CHAPTER 5 RACE DOES MATTER: RACIAL ENDOGAMY AS A PRACTICED NORM, AND INTERRACIAL RELATIONSHIPS AS AN UNSPOKEN TABOO This chap ter explores the mate or spouse selection standards of Chinese international students with regard to the race/ethnicity of their potential significant others. The following explorations of race/ethnicity as part of mate selection standards reveals three br oad areas that emerged from the in depth interviews: (a) gender differences in attitudes towards interracial relationships; (b) a lack of acquaintance as relationship taboo s. Race/ethnicity has to be taken into account as a fairly important part of mate/spouse selection criteria for Chinese international students within the context of the multi racial/ethnic society of the U.S. Race/ethnicity is a relatively new and unfami liar concept for Chinese international students who have newly landed in U.S. society since China is pretty much a homogeneous society: the whole population would U.S. racial definitions and the majority of the population is of U.S. society upon their arrival, and students report feeling that it seems that they ha ve to preferences in mate s election and attitudes towards interracial relationships. As summarized in the literature review, Kalmijn (1998) suggested that mate selection and marriage patterns arise from the interplay between three social forces: the preference of


65 individuals for cer tain characteristics in a potential spouse, the influence of the social group to which one belongs, and the constraints of the marriage market in which one is searching for a spouse (Kalmijn, 1991). The research results of the current study reflect and co preferences. Previous demographic research has suggested that racial endogamy is most commonly prac ticed among Asians in the U.S. especially for Asian immigrants. Compared with other groups, Asian immigrants are most likely to marry immigrant partners of the same race followed by native partners of the same race rather than marry interracially. And for Asian immigrants who do marry interracially, the chances are higher that they are married to Whites rather than o ther racial minorities (Qian & Lichter, 2001; 2007; 2011). In many ways, as discussed in Chapter 1, Chinese international students have a uniq ue standpoint within the U.S. racial system. To what extent the above demographic findings apply to the population of Chinese international students and what really influences their decisions and preferences on the racial aspects of dating and mate selecti on are waiting to be explored. Attitude T owards Interracial Relationships ---Gender Matters The current study found a high level of racial endogamy and nativity endogamy reflected in the preferences and practices of Chinese international students. All of t he single respondents (9 out of 9) revealed that they would primarily prefer Chinese people or at least Asians as their future partners or spouses. However, there was an obvious gender difference regarding racial preferences. Males were more likely to admi t frankly


66 statements of racial preference were less clear and potentially more ambivalent in their own minds. Most single male respondents (4 out of 5) expressed their prefere nce for a female of Chinese descent or at least Asian race. White and light skin Latina females were considered as alternative options, but these men revealed that they would go for single males admitted non Chinese or non Asian woman, so their choices were limited t o Chinese/Asian females anyhow. Three of them even admitted frankly that they would certainly not choose to date dark skin minorities. Michael expressed doubts that he could connect with a non Chinese woman. e or at least American born think I will ever feel connected to them in the future either. However, I would not mind hanging out with girls of other races or go on l, single, engineering major). Leo went a bit further in noting a sense of living in different worlds from women of other racial groups. He admitted to finding White and Latina women physically attractive, but felt that such women were too different from him to allow for common understandings, tastes, or experiences. same world. Although I admit that Whi te girls and Latino girls are hot and


67 appy about to date Chinese girls. We would have so much in common: language, experience, even preference but definitely not every day and I cannot expect a western girl to cook Having common interests and experiences was an important theme, and th is was assumed to be connected with having a common ethnic and racial background. school and then decide to stay to find a job would be ideal. Well, I mean I think I would have a lot in common with them and have will have common topics to talk about with someone who is your girlfriend or wife mind dating other races of course as long as we have something in common to talk about. I am not a racist of course. However, I would be considered but I would choose not to if I can. (Interviewer: Are there any special reasons why you would not want to date dark skinned girls? Do you just dislike dark skinned people in general or there are any special s and it attracted to any Indian looking people. As for black people, I think they are from a dif All of the four female respondents suggested that they would not typically they would like to date people of ot her races although they would prefer someone Chinese or at least Asian to be their future partner or spouse. Interestingly, contrary to dating dark skin minorities. Ot


68 acceptance towards interracial relationships mind their skin color as long as they are nice people and are nice to me. I think I might be mo st likely to date White beside Asian or Chinese because am wondering if I would feel attracted to the m. And I am not sure I would as I like them but I am not sure if I would have such emotional connection Latinos Blacks, but some Chinese girls do marry Whites and it would not be a big White babies are cute and beautiful, but they always make bad jok es about Asian Black date men of any race?) Well, maybe not AN Y race. I think I might be more attracted to Chinese guys just because I know Chinese guys better. I think White guys are acceptable as long as they have a stable job and they make enough income to be independent. Latinos are fine but I really do not know any Latinos in person so I am not sure if I will even get in contact with any Latinos. I think I would say NOT Blacks if you are really interested what ink my parents would be happy to see me marrying Black not to mention when I am imagining the look of our future For both Jennifer and Linda, opinions about interracial dating were expressed in terms of both personal preferences and attractiveness as well likely responses from family and others. Their comments also reflected basic assumptions and stereotypes, with White men assumed to be acceptable if they were financially stable, whereas men from racial minority grou ps were regarded as more different and less acceptable as potential dates or partners.


69 The current research results correspond to previous demographic research that has reported that Asians and Asian immigrants were more likely to marry within their rac e and that any interracial marriage was more likely to happen with Whites rather than other minorities (Qian & Lichter, 2001; 2007; 2011). From what we can see above, male students were more likely to express concerns about with personal preferences while female Chinese international students were more likely to note the influenced of their social group (Chinese society), as suggested by Kalmijn (1998). bout ---Lack of Acquaintance as One Major Cause of Racial E ndogamy As results suggested above, all single respondents revealed that they felt closer to other Chinese people and were more likely to date Chinese or at least Asians. The researcher found that the lack of acquaintance with othe r racial groups may be a major contributor to the taboo of interracial dating. All of the respondents (21 out of 21) admitted that their major social network was within the Chinese community and that the majority of their friends and acquaintances were Chi nese. Some of them even worke d in research labs that were run by Chinese supervisors, and all of their colleagues were Chinese graduate students and post doctoral researchers. These people noted that they had very few opportunities to communicate or hang o ut with people other than Chinese, not to mention getting to know people of a variety of racial/ethnic backgrounds. potluck dinners, play basketball, football; sometimes we travel tog ether if there is somewhere we all want to go. It is not that I do not like to hang out a language barrier, I speak English well enough to go out and traveling with Chinese is so much simpler, no language nor cultural


70 problems. We typically bring Chinese food if we have potluck dinners play complain about our classes, assignments and difficulties we come across in The supportive social network of other Chinese in ternational students provided a comfortable context for socializing, but also resulted in social segregation of these students, thus limiting opportunities for them to get acquainted with their non Chinese peers. There are American people in my lab and in are friendly to each other and we have conversations m ore or less, mostly regarding our research projects or during lab meetings...But we are just not the ki nd of friends that would hang out with each other. (Interviewer: What are the races/ethnicities of your American colleagues? Are there other international students from other countries?) All my American colleagues are White. There is a girl from Thailand b ut she told us she came to the U.S. with her parents when she was very young, so she is not an international students. All the other people in my lab are Chinese, our supervisor is Chinese, too. I think he typically hires Chinese because it is easier for h relationship, science and engineering major) Chinese if I knew any of them better and if I like some Whites and Indian guys through classes and we say hi to each other than me in my department and I sometimes asked him for help of all kinds and he was really helpful and resourceful, so naturally we became Chinese man, science major) Chinese), but I know many western guys. I dated one White guy last year for a couple of and we were both single at the time. That was my only experience of dating non Chinese. I only know a fe with. Only the guy that I dated was a single man of my age so I guess I sort of wanted to see if we would work out and if it would work out for me to be


71 busy with my research and I started teaching a year ago. I feel I am occupied every day and I have no ti me to hang out with Americans. If I have have to feel uncomfortable and comp licated. (Jane, single, non science/engineering professional student ) The above examples reveal that Chinese international students generally opted out of any interracial relationships in their mate selection choices due to both their personal preferences for Chinese partners and their lack of acquaintance with people of other races/ethnicities/nationalit ies. For most Chinese international students, interracial dating and relationships were not an option for them because they did not know many non Chinese people in the marriage market. Some respondents mentioned that they prefer Asians in mate selection p rocess which indicate that they would be willing to accept people of other pan Asian groups: Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, and the etc. as their potential mates, but the fact that they are only socializing with their same nationality peers decide that the probability of them choosing mates from other nationality groups is very small. Their preference towards Asians actually means the The above result can be interpreted within the framework of assimilation theor y proposed by Gordon (1 964) and Alba and theory of intermarriage and homogamy. Intermarriage has been viewed as the final step of assimilation (Gordon, 1964; Alba & Nee, 1999). The commonly practiced racial endogamy among Chinese international students can be viewed as a reflection of their levels of assimilation in the U.S. society. As most Chinese international students choose to socialize and maintain their social networks within the Chinese community and isolate t hemselves from other racial/ethnicity groups in U.S. society, the low likelihood of them


72 dating or marrying interracially can be expected. Kalmijn (1998) suggested that endogamy and homogamy are not only governed by individual and group level factors but a lso by structural arrangements. The chances of marrying endogamously are higher the more often one meets people within the group and the more often one interacts with group members on a day to day basis. Although physically in place on a U.S. university c ampus, most of the Chinese international students on this U.S. university campus limited their social networks and contacts with other Chinese international students and therefore had limited acquaintance with non Chinese and American students. Thus, their marriage market was limited within the Chinese community. In this way, their practice of racial endogamy resulted from both their personal preference towards same race partners and the limitation of available candidates of other races/ethnicities. ---aboos As my research went on, I heard almost all of my respondents express their preference for finding a partner of Chinese descent or at least of Asian race. At the beginning, all of the n on single participants introduced to me during snowball sampling were in relationships with Chinese. They either had Chinese partners with them in town or were in a long distance relationships with someone who was Chinese. I heard participants who were sin gle telling me their preference towards Chinese people as future partners as well as their concerns about interracial relationships. That raised my curiosity to explore the real life experiences of Chinese international students who were currently in inte rracial relationships. Their side of the story might either support or contradict the themes that already emerged. I then went on asking my key participants to introduce me to people that they knew who were dating non Chinese. Two female Chinese students w ere introduced to me who were both dating White men. Their stories


73 corresponded to the previous emerging themes and added insights from their different set of experiences. The first female respondent who was willing to participate in my research was Wendy; I remember other people telling me that her boyfriend is White. Although not knowing her well, I still tried to contact her through online social network among RenRen (People & People, a network like Facebook for Chinese young adults). She was very easygoing and accepted my invitation to be my participant. Wen dy expressed her initial reason to da te her current White boyfriend : n o one Chinese was interested in her because of her liberal, untraditional personal character: dating him. But unfortunately, it seemed that none of the Chinese boys around me was interested in me. I am too carefree and non submissive I guess I had to accept the fact (Wendy, in a local relationship, science major) instead of through everyday traditional face to face interaction which correspond s to the theme that Chinese students do not socialize with people of different races, rather they would stay close and connected to their I met my boyfriend th rough Facebook. We had a mutual friend, an my status asking if anyone wanted to hang out and he responded. We started to hang out and he asked me to be his gir lfriend after a couple o f (Wendy, in a local relationship, science major)


74 Mandy tried to hide her interracial relationship from her Chinese social network and family as a strategy for gradual and selective disclosu re until her relationship became more serious and committe d: Only a few people knew about our relationship at the beginning, I tried my best to stay low key. Only my really close friends knew. I tried to keep our relationship unknown for most Chinese friends until we were committed to her people to know about him, not even my parents to be excited or worried because it may not work o ut. My parents c ame over to the U.S. last year and kind of met him but only for a dinner; Ma ndy feels the invisible threat and potential negative judgments that she might get from her Chinese peers so she resists by hiding her relationships to minimize possible negative reactions. She felt such social pressure only from her Chinese peers, yet she felt freer revealing her interracial relationship to Americans. I feel I am kind of two faced between my Facebook and RenRen profile (an equivalent of Facebook for Chinese people). We updated our relationship status on Facebook and sometimes we post our pictures on our Facebook profiles. People could tell who I am in a relationship wit h from my Facebook but the majority of my Facebook friends are Americans and I sort of feel relationship with a White man on RenRen where the majority of people I am friends with a extreme Chinese people hate Chinese women who date White or any non ple to comment but I have family members in China who are my RenRen friends. They is g oing back to China with me to meet my parents again and the rest of my family. Not a lot of people know about our trip and I am not sure how it will (Wendy, in a local relationship, science major)


75 As a female Chinese international student, Wendy end ed up dating interracially because she experienced the shortage of available dates from the marriage market (Kalmijn, 1998): she indicated that no Chinese male students were interested in her because of onal character. Her decision to date interracially was not totally out of her personal preference: she had intended to date Chinese but no dates were available for her. Alt hough she did not typically want to date interracially, she would still feel it necessary to keep her relationship hidden to avoid negative comments and r eactions from her Chinese peers. S he worried that her Chinese friends s till would judge her and gossip However, the fact that Wendy felt freer on her American social network and with her American friends indicated that she felt more comfortable accepting interracial relationship among Americans under the multi racial background of this country. Wendy felt that dating o r even marrying interracially was a diverse society. She felt that she could frankly reveal her relationship with her different race boyfriend a mong Americans since she was now situated in U.S. society, but at the same time she felt the tension with her Chinese identity sensing guilt and shame to hide her relationship to avoid group sanction from her Chinese peers. Although they are engaged and are planning a c ivil marriage ceremony in the U.S. Wendy is reluctant to reveal this to her peers and plans to have a separate wedding celebration later with family in China. Like Wendy, Eva did not meet her boyfriend of a different race through usual social settings; bu t through engaging in western religious activities:


76 I am grateful that Church brought us together and it is really important that n get (Eva, in a local relationsh ip, science major) Eva was also worried about being portrayed negatively among her peers. She expressed concern that her peers might attempt to discredit the legitimacy of the relationship to obtaining a green card. As a result, Eva has had to pretend that she is not so intimate with her fianc. me ent from the girls who are marrying Americans for a green card. I have good education and we met in that people hate and I plan on being with relationsh ip, science major) Kalmijn (1998) suggested that group sanctions may restrain people from marrying exogamously. Kalmin (1998) identified three most important examples of parties that sanction intermarriage: the family, the church, and the state. However, the narratives from the two female Chinese students who were in interracial relationships comments from a more generalized Chinese society of acquaintances and pee rs. Neither Wendy nor Eva identified the person or persons who commented negatively but they all expressed the idea that they knew how people would comment and how people would think about them.


77 The hateful comments about Chinese girls who date non Asians mentioned by Wendy and Eva have existed for a long time. No research has been done regarding these negative comments but they exist on the common online social networks among Chinese immigrants and international students. Negative comments were initially focused on Asian girls who wanted to marry westerners to get residency and citizenship in more developed western countries. Their marriages were regarded as not out of love but based on exchange: an exchange of sex and opportunity to move to western countr ies. Wendy and Eva both regarded themselves as international students who have migrated to the U.S. for educational attainment and their own professional aspirations; they expressed feeling troubled and hurt by negative comments about interracial ma rriages based on exchange and motivations regarding foreign residency Yet their choices with regard to dating non Chinese or non Asian men were still interpreted within the cultural framework of the stereotypical exchange because they had the potential c hance of getting a green card and citizenship sooner than their peers who chose to date Chinese men. These hateful comments were spread through the internet, online forums among Chinese people in the U.S. and of course through word of mouth. Although neit her Wendy nor Eva had come across such hateful comments regarding their own relationships, they both responded to the expectation of such pressures and sanctions: Wendy tried her best to stay low key to avoid such comments and Eva understood the implicatio ns of people asking her about her immigration status so she tried to hide the nature of her relationship with her fianc.


78 Although rumors and hateful comments as group sanctions were not carried out by formal parties or organizations, they acted as invisib le group sanctions that played mate selection choices in the U.S. And if we look back at the interview with Jennifer, such concerns were evident with regard to expected soci al attitudes about different kinds of interracial relationships: some Chinese girls do marry Whites and it would not be a big deal if you White babies are cute and beautiful, but they always make bad jokes about Asian (Jennifer, single, engineering major) We can see how rumors and hateful comments influence dating behaviors of Chinese students who are in interracial relationshi ps as well as pressure single Chinese students to avoid dating certain races. Summary Racial endogamy is what the majority of Chinese international students choose and prefer to practice even though they are now located in the multi racial society of the United States. Although both male and female respondents expressed their preferences for racial endogamy, their preferences reflect different factors: personal preferences were the major factor that influence d ale respondents seemed to be more open and accepting of interracial relationships, and their preferences for same race partners w ere expressed mainly around concerns about Chinese as future partners and spouses because they did not have many acquaintances from other racial/ethnic groups. Rumors and hateful comments on interracial marriages also shaped the behaviors of Chinese students who were currently


79 in interracial r elationships (and awareness of such pressures probably influenced the behavior of single students more generally). The current research results discussed in intermarriage and homoga my. However, themes such as gender differences in the attitudes towards interracial relationships and the negative influence of rumors and hateful comments in restrain ing interracial dating and relationships provide important details that build on


80 CHAPTER 6 DANCING CAREFULLY IN BOTH CHINESE AND AMERICAN NORMS: SEGMENTED ASSIMILATION IN DATING AND MATE SELECTION BEHAVIORS This chapter presents the research results on the assimilation of Chine se international students regarding their dating and spouse selection behaviors. The presentation is framed by three basic themes: (a) the role played by the close and exclusive network and community among Chinese students with regard to dating and selecti with regard to mate selection standards, perceptions of romantic relationships, and acceptance and practice of pre marital intimacy. The Important Third Parties As I have mentioned in previous chapters, Chinese international students maintain a very closed and exclusive social network and community on the U.S. university campus where the research was conducted. Chinese students usually limited their social networks and fri endships within the Chinese community. Most Chinese students socialized and communicated with Chinese people only, although they were situated in a foreign country surrounded by people of different cultural and social backgrounds. Besides their personal pr students had the effect of limiting their options for potential dates/partners within the Chinese community (Chapter 5). In this section, I discuss the role played by this close, exclusive network among Chinese stu dents with regard to dating and selecting a potential mate. On the one hand, this social network provided support and opportunities for Chinese international students to seek dates and partners. However, on the other hand, it functioned to reinforce Chines e traditional social and cultural values within the Chinese international student community.


81 FACSS FACSS ( Friendship Association of Chinese Students and Scholars ), a student organization run by Chinese international students, helped to organize major ev ents within the Chinese community. Among the activities it organized, two major events ic k u At the begin ning of every fall semester, FACSS organized volunteer activities to help Chinese students who had just arrived in town to settle down and get used to their new living environment. Every summer, the org for ents through their mail list which reached every C hinese student on the mail list. Chinese students who were willing to help and had means of transportation, which typically meant they owned a car, would sign up to become a volunteer to help new students in settling down. It was implied and encouraged that single senior male students were to actively help new students, especially new female students, to settle students. And of course, they were allowed and encouraged to develop romantic relationships with young female students who had just arrived. Diana, a newly arrived non science professional student told me about her story of how she met her current boyfriend. signed up to be volunteers to help in picking up newly arrived students from the airport


82 and help them in settling down. Howev original volunteer assigned to help Diana and her roommates, started a relationship with another female new student he had helped. As soon as the male student found a girlfriend among the new students, he stopped h elping Diana and her roommates. nd) was the person who helped me to get around when I first got here. He took us, me and my two other roommates to grocery assigned as a volunteer to help you?) Not initially, another seni or male student picked us up from the airport and settled us down at a temporary happened?) He [the senior male student who picked them up] got a rom the airport including girlfriend and her roommates frequently, so we had no one to help us ... (Diana, in a local relationship, n on science/engineering major) The original volu nteer stopped helping Diana and her roommates immediately soon as his true inten is my b non science professional student) a irport is associated with the important opportunity to look for girlfriends. We can see


83 (Interviewer: So as you mentioned you are still single, are you looking into getting a girlfriend sometime soon? Are you actively looking for a students [f engineering major) However, the implication for airport pick up is gendered. It seems that only men are expected to do thi s. Women can be the recipients of this attention but are not supposed to be the helpers: (Interviewer: So as you mentioned you are still single, are you looking into getting a boyfriend sometime soon? Are you actively looking for a men can go helping to pick up new students [from the airport], but we details?) Well, it would be embarrassing; people will th ink I am desperate, And there seem to be some rituals to the interaction initial pick up, further communication and assistance Male students help new female students with the expectation and intention of de veloping romantic relationships with them; in return, gratitude from female students who accepted help is expected. Thus, in some female on the part of the man. Some fe critical of the practice. (Interviewer: Could you please tell me the characteristics of your boyfriend that attracted you at the first place ?) He is not like the others, the pitiful elp new students just to find dates and o I went to him asking for help ask for? For exampl e, was that hel p in academic area?) Both academic


84 help and non academic help. I asked him questions about registration for to take me to grocery store a couple of times... long distance relationship with her fianc in China, science major). was considered as a very important opportunity for senior male students to meet potentia l dates and partners. In some cases, this initial encounter brought single male and female students together and provided opportunities for male newly arrived female students, with the hope of beginning a relationship. However, as we attitudes, male students were more likely to take the initiative, while female students were expected to be passive in this activity. The recruitment of volunteers was not gender limited: both ma le and female volunteers were welcomed. However, male students were more likely to take the opportunity and view it as a valuable opportunity to seek girlfriends, while some female students would viewed it negatively as a pitiful ating FACSS ( Friendship Association of Chinese Students and Scholars) also organized another very important event to help Chinese students to find dates and partners. Every year FACSS organized one speed dating event for single Chinese student s, and it always happened on November 11th. This day is commonly called 11 is considered to be most representing a single p erson). This date is therefore considered to be an auspicious day


85 for seeking potential dates or mates. I conducted a participant observation at this event in 2010 by signing up for the event online, and I conducted a non participant observation in the fol lowing year, 2011, by joining and assisting the group of organizers. Results from analyzing my observation notes provided more insights into how such an event was viewed by the students. Gender norms that men should take the initiative and be assertive whi le female should be submissive and passive can be seen from the way the event was organized and set up: We as girls were seated on one side of the table, and there is a seat across the table, it is for our speed dates. We had 2 minutes to talk to the other person. There were more male students than females, so some male students had times when they have no one to talk to and they had to wait for their turns. The place was decorated pretty romantic, there were candles lighted up in the room and chocolate pla ced on the tables that we can eat. I could tell most guys that I talked to were pretty relaxed but a few of them Interactive activities were designed following gender norms. Female students who tri ed to break the gender norms encountered negative reaction from their peers. All the interacting games and activities needed participation by pairs of two. The host and organizers always encourage male students to invite female students to particip ate together. And usually, guys would do that. I saw a lot of them inviting girls to participate with them. However, in one activity, they were short for participants, a girl with glasses suddenly turn around and invited the guy beside her and went ahead a nd joined the game. Everybody was shocked and then started scoffing. The guy who was grabbed the girl invited the non participation observation)


86 Many male Chinese students s eemed to attend this event with the true intention nervous and quiet. I could tell he is much older than me and really serious. I asked him wh y he is here participating in the speed dating. He told me he is for long term committed relationship there and a marriage. He asked me if I like the environment around and if I like the speed dating event. I told him I because h rticipation observation) All the participants seemed actively involved in the speed dating activities and engaged in the process of getting to know each other briefly. After they finished talking to each other intensively, all of them appeared to be really thirsty and they all rushed over to the bar for water and beverages. But as soon as the interaction and game section started, they left the bar to participate in the games. However, some female students could not found any men who fit into the age range for ideal spouse. They seemed to be still following traditional gendered norms of mate selection: women are expected to date and marry men who are older than themselves: Lillian. non participation observation) tunities for single Chinese international students to meet and interact with a large number of singles from the


87 opposite sex in a short amount of time. For people like Robert, it was a great opportunity to get to know other single Chinese students outside his daily social network and potentially develop a romantic relationship. FACSS as an agency and important third party was playing an active role in assisting single Chinese students to meet their potential significant others. However, I also found out th at such arranging activities organized by the Chinese community also served to reinforce traditional eastern gender norms. As we can see from the notes above, single females were placed in the situation and activities submissively. Female participants were asked to be seated still while male participants were allowed to move around and talk to different females. Interacting games and activities were designed to have male participants inviting female participants instead of the opposite. Any female who tried a woman cannot date a was reinforced and reflected her own practices during the speed dating: she gave up actively looki ng for dates at the events and stopped interacting with other male participants. Besides official and formal organizations like FACSS, informal, unorganized groups of acquaintances, friends, or colleagues and social networks also playe d interviews with participants, I noticed that almost during every interview, there were i more details about where they heard these comments and opinions. Most of them were


88 not able to identify who exactly passed these comments and opinions onto them or th ey just gave me a vague answer saying comments are passed around by a group of people --a vague social network among them and their Chinese friends. The earlier examples of how Wendy and Eva were worried and upset by rumors and hateful comments about inter racial relationships reflected this generalized sense of relationships or pretend to be NOT so close with their intimate partner in order to pass --their Chinese peers. I know some extreme Chinese people hate Chinese women who date White or any non eople say, but I have family members in China are my RenRen friends. They people know about our trip and I am being together in China is different from being here. I am not sure if I am science major) Thus, Wendy cited concerns about generalized negative comments from her broader online social network, both in the U.S. and China, though she described being more candid about her relationship with her family (who was accepting of her interracial relationship). Eva, on the other hand, confronted comments and insinuations about women using relationships to get a green card. And they were saying that it would be easier for me to get green card and d and when I will am not the kind of girls peopl e hate and I plan on being with my fianc for science major)


89 According to Wendy and Eva, neither had experienced harassment, discrimination, or isolation from their Chinese peers du e to their interracial relationships. However, they both expressed clearly that they were engaging in behaviors to prevent such negative events from happening. Eva mentioned that her peers had asked about her immigration status. But according to her own wo were saying it in an envious as well as jealou reactions and behaviors. es demonstrated the fairly explicit role of peer selection behavior, other examples provide similar evidence of the importance of third party comments. For example, in her acc ount of an ex Mandy offered a vivid illustration of the shared group perceptions within her network of Chinese international students. Jones was considered to be physical attractive so her peers expected her to find partners o f better qualities in all aspects, including someone with a great social economic background: They all say that beautiful girls get more suitors as well as more beautiful, we all agree. But she gets more trouble in relationships than us t as happy as she appears to ( Mandy)


90 hey match up with her: We We have a job. He could not find an employer to sponsor his working visa after he properly, he had to go back to China and re apply for graduate school. Well, he came back eventually and got into another program here trying to get another M.A degree and have another round of shots later (Mandy). Among Chinese international students, good social economic circumstances for a man include being able to find a stable job with sponsorship of immigration status and having their own wide social network But we doubt if he will find a job this time when he graduates. If he would, he would already have a job right? Also, he is hanging out mostly We all think that man should be help ing woman in a relationship and the man should be better off than his (Mandy) reak up with her boyfriend. Thus, close social networks among Chinese international students acted as We advised her to give up her relationship. She is struggli ng and sometimes she wants to give him up. But you know when you are (Mandy telling me about the experience of Jones ) --the social network that both Ma ndy and Jones belonged to -were the best out of the elationship with her partner. According to Mandy, the judgments and


91 give up her relationship. Obviously, negative comments from peers and her own emotional attachment to this partner had created a dilemma for Jones in her relationship. Jones was not the only one who was influenced by peer pressure and third party comments. Other respondents had reported similar situations where they had to make a exclusive social network among Chinese students created an atmosphere of people wanting to watch out for each other in their big decisions such as mate selection, but it also restrained their persona l freedom of choice and created struggles for people who were involved like Jones. Dating as Americans While Dating as Chinese --Bi Cultural Identity in Dating and Choosing Mates On the one hand, immersed in a western culture and living environment, Chine se international students had adopted western values and ideologies with regard to dating and mate selection behaviors. On the other hand, having been brought up in China and still having parents resident in China, it was impossible for Chinese students to eliminate and throw away their cultural traditions in a short amount of time. This section displays and illustrates the emerging bi cultural identity of Chinese students in dating and mate selection: they would accept and adopt western norms and consider ilial piety beliefs (Kline & Liu, 2005).


92 What Are They Looking For in a Partner And R elationship? and intimate relationships have been shaped by their experiences of living and assimilating into western society and their adoption of western value and norms. of young adults in China, Chinese international students on this U.S. campus expressed that they valued personal character and emotional connections over physical characteristics, social economic affluence, and family backgrounds. The results from the current study also contradict previous findings from Jankowiak (1989) and Xu (2000) --Chinese young adults at the ages of family formation valued the stability and long lasting and enduring qualities of the relationship. Different from their peers in China, Chinese st udents on this U.S. campus appeared to be more open to free, fun, casual and less committed relationships. For them, dating and romantic relationships were no longer just for family formation and reproduction purposes only. Intimate romantic relationships were also seen as functioning to complement their needs for emotional connection, mutual support, psychological consolation, and other kinds of support in life. Although most participants admitted that western culture and social norms such as liberalism an d individualism led to changes in their dating and mate selection ideology, they also implied that the unique experiences of migration and assimilation helped to encourage and implement such changes. For Chinese people, a long lasting relationship wa s rega rded as crucial For example, the respondents expressed that it was best to avoid divorce for the benefit of the children because they d id not want their children to suffer from negative consequences f rom parents divorce. However, for some Chinese interna tional


93 students, a l ong lasting marriage was no t necessarily the ir primary concern, rather the y emphasized happiness and emotional connection a s more important They explained that they would not give up personal happiness as sacrifice for the family and n ext generation: One important thing occurred to me after you asked me earlier if there is any significant change in my attitude towards dating and mate selection. I think dating, romantic relationships and marriage should have been things associated with h appiness. However, I think many Chinese people tend to turn them into burdens somehow. We make ourselves nervous, pressured and worried as we see other people getting into relationships, engaged or married. Or we would have many concerns on mate selection. And I think in ip, non science /engineering professional student These changes i n their expectations and standards for judging the quality of relationships were seen as coming from the influence of their western peers : I have come across many westerners talking about thei casually and frankly. For them divorce is neither stressful nor shameful at emotional connection no longer exists any more, they should absolutely choose to break up otherwise both the y and the ones they care about will get Tiffany, in a long distance relationship, non science/engineering professional student) mate selection appeared to be influenced by western liberalism and the emphasis on romantic love in western society. Personalities and emotional connections rather than social economic factors or family backgrounds we re considered: ).


94 (Interviewer: what are the most important characters that you think your future significant other should have?) She has to be an easygoing, optimistic, and happy person, it would be a plus if she has good erence regarding her education, income, or job?) No, I do not any preference on these aspects. (Interviewer: how about her family? Would you prefer her to about it. I will be spending tim e with her mostly, not her family. (Interviewer: your preference ever changed before and after you came to t he U.S. ?) Yes in China neither but I have had situations when I have to consider realistic created difficulties f or my previous relationships. But I think I would not care so much about these things any more, we are in the U.S. now, and these Jennifer went further in noting that physical attract iveness was not that important to her, but she cited the influence of American culture in explaining that feelings and the quality of the relationship sh ould never been neglected: b e more specific? (Interviewer: Just anything you care about such as physical character, family background, education, income and job) Well, as long as he is not ugly enough I would feel sick looking at him, hahaha as long as we feel connected to U.S. culture affect your overall opinions on dating, mate selection and family forming?) really care about any more. (What do you mean by the factors Chinese people care about? Can you give me more details?) I m ean, things like you background. I know these factors are very important for Chinese, but I see Americans are more concerned about personality, emotional connection, romance, and psychological co (Jennifer, single, engineering major).


95 Similarly, Wayne described what he saw as the positive values of western individualism a s a model for life and relationships, while criticizing what he regarded as problematic in Chinese culture: (Interviewer: How does U.S. culture affect your overall opinions on dating, mate selection and family forming?) Well, I really like the way Americans deal with life. Here people believe that if you work hard, you put effort in things, you will get success one day. Everyday depends on ys have the confidence to according will you make your family happy if you are not happy yourself? A man work d wait until they become rich to enjoy life, ey Most of the respondents indicated that they witnessed other people or they had pe rsonal experience of being restrained by social norms in China: Tiffany told us the Chinese standards of selecting a spouse; Jennifer mentioned that she knew Chinese peopl family backgrounds; Wayne expressed his deep sympathy towards hard working Chinese men who seldom enjoyed their own lives. Their impressions of Chinese mate selection standards family corresponded to previous research findings on Chinese young adults (Jankowiak,


96 1989; Xu, 2000; Xu & Fang, 2002). However, all of them indicated that their attitudes and expectations on their future spouse and marriage changed after they had witnessed and experienced American individualism and liberalism. They believed that happy relationships and marriages were not based on social economic factors only; family members should have person al freedom to enjoy their lives; a relationship or marriage should be ended if it no longer includes emotional connections and turns into unhappiness, suffering, and restraint for both parts. The changes experienced by these respondents indicate how migrat ion from a conservative/realistic culture to a that we see here, these Chinese students had already started to understand and set up expectations on marriage and famil Dating Like Americans While Dating as Chinese This section will present how segmented assimilation and bi cultural identity previous section that Chinese international students had adopted some western/American cultural values and ideology on marriage and family. However, segmented assimilation of Chinese students should also be taken into account as they were born and brought up in China and were i mmersed in Chinese cultural values and social norms for more than 20 years. American social norms and culture values were cultural identity.


97 Questions regarding how Chinese young couples distributed financial responsibilities and made joint decisions were asked during the interviews with non single participants. Based on the themes and patterns that emerged in d ata analys is, I found that most dating couples adopted western norms but also kept traditions brought from China. Although in some cases, the female actively made contributions to mutual expenses and w as involved in decision making, males were expected to take care of the majority of financial responsibilities and make the majority of the decisions in the relationship. (Interviewer: How do you distribute financial responsibilities with your dollars a month, and he takes care of everything else: car insurance, gas, I just pay a fixed amount every month, but for him, som etime s it is a lot more than what I pay. (Interview: How about the costs of eating out, social izing and traveling? I saw you guys have traveled a lot, these travel pictures on the t ravel, it depends, usually I pay for something, like air tickets, and he would track o f you both have stipend s and does he get students and yes we both am relationship, science major). Although some female students like Doris would like to contribute to the mutual costs in her relationship and act as functioning parts in the relationship, some female students experience d patriarchal attitudes and expectations from their significant others T hey reported that they were expected not to take the initiative or to contribut e to financial responsibilities or joint decision making:


98 U.S. ) he in [a distant U.S. city] he would book air ticke back in China, he would take care of the costs when I go back to visit him make more than you? U.S. but only on small coming back to the U.S. so I guess I will head back too B esides I think he ly over to see her. I can get more time off than make about the same amount but she lives near (a distant U.S. city) prices I am the long distance relationship, science major) From the pattern of how these Chinese young adult s dis tributed financial responsibilit ies with their significant other s we can see that their behavior does not align with standard expectations suggested by the social exchange perspective (Schwartz & Scott, 2012; N.V. Benokraitis, 2011; Schoen and Wooldredge, 1989). According to the social exchange perspective, human beings calculate costs and benefits in intimate relationships, they always try to maximum their benefit while minimiz ing the costs. Most people will continue in a relationship as long as there are more benefits than losses (Schwartz & Scott, 2012; N.V. Benokraitis, 2011; Schoen and Wooldredge, 1989). However, we can see above in the transcripts that the men did not make more than the women in all three couples ; instead, patriarchal gender expectati ons appeared to dominate over social exchange considerations


99 decisio n makers while women were expected to act as passive followers. T heir ideology and reflects the expectations of equity theory : they do what seems fair, even when it does not follow rational, calculated decis ion making. But even more importantly, gender stratification expectations of male dominance appear to trump other considerations. Bride Price & Dowry exchange perspective. The groo expected to provide a support in her new marriage and better status in her future in concepts are still alive and the traditions are still practiced among these westernized/Americanized Chines e young adults who now live overseas. During our interviews, some respondents brought up phrases using the referred to these traditions in somewhat ironic ways, suggesting that they did not really ex pect to have a exchange (at least not in the traditional sense) with in the ir relationships. partners :

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100 my parents. They have been so supportive both financially and ond ring and I accepted it and I told my know what accepting a diamond ring means in western culture, right? It m om said a diamond ring is far not enough for the bride price, you need to However, some Chinese students and their families do still practice the traditional s: money, right?...(Diana, in a local relationship, non science professional student ) Bride Price & Dowry showing g new marriage and better status in her future in alive and the traditions are still practiced among these westernized/Americanized Chinese young adults who now live overseas. During our interviews, some respondents brought up phrases using the

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101 my parents. They have been so supportive both financially and know what does accepting diamond ring means in western culture, right? It mom said a diamond ring is far not enough for the bride price, y ou need to However, some Chinese students and their families do stil l practice the norm of t my money, right?...(Diana, 24, in a local relationship, non science/engineering major) Together, is Not a Big D --Premarital I ntimacy as a Commonly Practiced, Under the Table Norm Previous research has suggested that virginity and chastity are no longer regarded as an important standard for selecting a partner or spouse among Chin ese young adults (Zhen et al., 2000; Li & Xu, 2004) The current research confirmed this observation and provided a more detailed and nuanced view of the attitudes and practices regarding pre marital intimacy among Chinese young adults. Questions on attitud es and opinions about pre marital intimacy were asked of both single and non single participants during the interview. All 21 respondents expressed their acceptance of pre marital intimacy but some also indicated that although pre marital intimacy was comm the that should not be brought up openly, with other people even close friends and family members.

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102 Since I have knowledge about the conservative cultural norm regarding pre marit al intimacy among the Chinese, I worded my questions very carefully in order to be polite and non threatening. Instead of probing into their personal privacy, I asked the marital intimacy and how they thought othe r Chinese young adults within their social network were dealing with pre marital intimacy instead of asking them if they had ever had pre marital intimacy. For Chinese students who were in a romantic relationship, I asked about their intimate behaviors wit h their current partner carefully and replaced the word s and and As I mentioned previously, most Chinese s tudents preferred to use the more socially accepted phrases implying sex and intimacy instead of using the two words directly: In college, some of my friends who ha d boyfriends would d a boyfriend, my boyfri end in college, he reported to our advisor; because we did not go back to our dorms for two to his office knew about the facts that we sometime s spent nights together anc, we in a long distance relationship, science major). However, m ost of the respondents reported acceptance and openness towards pre marital intimacy: (Interviewer: Do you thi nk all kinds of pre marital intimacy are wrong? To condition under which it happens? (Interviewer: Both). Well, a

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103 non science/engineering major) They also indicated that pre marital in timacy is expected and commonly practiced in China among their age group: do it, right? It happens everywhere. It is kind of an unspoken norm for everybody, ev en people in China. (Doris, in a local relationship, science major) However, most of them still expressed pressure from older generation family members and concerned about being judged by their peers: non science/engineering major) ...We moved in with each other thre e month after we started dating. It is just now live together, we sold his car, and we only need to pay one rent and u approve it, and other people would think we moved in with each other too is not a secret any more since we got engaged. (Doris, in a local relationship, science major) Also, most of them believe d that pre marital intimacy should be kept as a secret between the couple and should not be openly discuss ed. Some male students indicated that they would potentially feel uncomfortable knowing that their future partner s intimacy history included someone besides them selves They would expect pre marital

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104 intimacy had happened for their future partner, but they would choose not to ask about details But it should be kept only between the couple, I would admit it if I was u guys think of your future partner if she had pre marital intimacy and cohabitation about her negat such conversations. (Wayne, single, engineering major). During my interviews, I observe d my respondents spontaneously and naturally elf, I realized that these phrases were more these non threatening and culturally more acceptable phrases from them in my later interviews. Both single and non single partic marital intimacy) was commonly practiced among Chinese young adults, even the ones in China. They appeared to be accepting and open to all sorts of pre marital intimacy but they would prefer to keep their own behaviors under the table. They believed that what happened should only be kept between the couples and no one else should be known marital intimacy and cohabitation) was a common norm and expected among Chinese young adults in romantic relationships, they still flet that it would lead to be judgments by parents, peers and even themselves.

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105 Some of them, like Tiffany, Mandy, and Doris, would not acknowledge to their parents in order to avoid the potential for blaming or criticism Doris kept her cohabitation from other Chinese friends and worried about being judged based on how soon she moved in with her partner. Some of them like Wayne chose not to discuss past history of intimate my respondents indicated the tensions between acceptance and old fashioned traditional judgments towards pre marital intimacy. On the one hand, they were open to and involved in pre marital intimacies and expressed t heir acceptance and non judgmental attitude towards it; they considered pre marital intimacy as a common norm that everyone practiced. On the other hand, they would yield to traditional opinions from older generations and police themselves by setting rules conditions, and timelines on how pre marital intimacy should happen. Summary (and bot h the similarities and differences between cultures) We can see how the bi cultural identity was reflected in a variety of aspects of their dating and mate selection behaviors. On the one hand, organizations and agencies such as FACSS provided opportuniti es to encourage Chinese students to actively seek their significant others; Chinese students to a great extent adopted western social norms and standards when choosing mates and forming families; Chinese young couples from both genders would get actively i nvolved in their relationships; and pre marital intimacy was commonly practiced and accepted. However, on the other hand, eastern/traditional culture norms still influenced their dating behaviors to a great extent: traditional gender norms were

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106 still follo wed as men were expected take the initiative, pay for expenses, and function as major decision makers while women were expected to be submissive, passive and act ideologies of marriage and family; and pre and not something they would frankly talk about.

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107 CHAPTER 7 DISCUSSION AN D CON C LUSION In this chapter, I conclude my thesis by summarizing key analytical themes and patterns that emerged from the interviews and the two observations regarding ovide a discussion to compare the current findings with previous theoretical and empirical studies. The discussion provide s me an opportunity to elaborate on the connections between emerged themes as well as attempt to construct a generalized narrative ab out s Also summarizing the current research necessitates making suggestions for future research to be conducted in more detail on what the current research failed to explore. Overall this discussion and conclusion chapter includes two major components: ( a ) a summary of the current research results and their connection s with previous literature; and ( b ) suggestions for future research on dating and mate selection behaviors of young adul ts based on the current research findings. --Bi Cultural Identity and Segmented Assimilation As I have mentioned from the start of the thesis, Chinese international students group represent a unique population and they should not be only studied or generalized with in bigger groups such as students, immigrants, or Asians. As Chinese young adults born and raised in China while now studying and living on U.S. university college campuses, Chinese international stude nts have been influenced by Chinese social norms as well as American/Western individualism and liberalism.

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108 Their Life in the U.S. The surrounding environment, daily routines, and social psychological well being of the participants provide us with an overa ll background for understanding their behavior, thoughts, and ideolog ies towards dating and selecting mates. Chinese international students entered the United States to seek further education and they arrived with strong education al backgrounds and academ ic records. For them and their famil ies the time, energy and financial costs spent on preparing for all kinds of standard ized tests, applications, and travel documents were an opening gate that led to opportunities in the western wor l d and investment for their futures. Upon arrival, Chinese international students would have to go through all kinds of adjustment s and assimilation into the ir new learning and living environment s They experienc ed pressures from academic s social life, and assimilation. As ne w arriv al s and new students, they carr ied high expectations from themselves as well as their families to make the most effort to fit in to American society and enhance their future career options. However, as sexually mature young adults at the proper age f or dating and family form ation their dating and mate selection patterns change d during the same time of their assimilation process. Racial Society Race/ethnicity were relatively new and different con cept s for Chinese international students who newly landed in U.S. society since China is pretty much a homogeneous society. However, the current research found out that the themes and patterns raised from the interview transcriptions regarding Chinese stud s and experience s o f interracial relationship s correspond ed to previous demographic research results on interracial relationship s among Asian immigrant population s : Asian

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109 immigrants are most likely to marry same race immigrants or natives. I nterracial marriages among Asian immigrants are most likely to happen between Asian immigrants and White s instead of with other minority groups. Rate s of interracial marriage var y greatly among Asians: Asian women are far more likely to marry interracially than Asian men (Qian and Lichter, 2001; 2007; 2011). Among Chinese international students, female s we re more open to interracial marriage while males insist ed on racial endogamy. It appeared that only interracial marriage s with White s were considere d particularly among female Chinese students. However, female students who were involve d in interracial relationship still expressed their worries and concerns over judgments and possible discrimination from their Chinese acquaintances. Although in termarriage has been considered as the final step of the process of immigrant group s assimilat ion and melt ing into the host society by many classic assimilation theorists (Gordon, 1964; Alba & Nee, 1999), it appears that Chinese international students we r e more likely to assimilate into their same race native population s, as reflected in their attitude s and preference s regarding interracial relationship s S econdly, they would consider the option of assimilat ing into the mainstream White/European American p opulation when choosing intimate partners. Their rejection towards interracial marriage with other minority groups due to the fear of group sanction (Kalmijn, 1998) reflect s the segmented assimilation suggested by Zhou (1999): they are trying to fit into t he host society at the same time that they try to p reserve the norms they were socialized into in their country of origin.

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110 Also, in this research, it is found out that although most respondents announced their preference towards same race mates/spouses. H owever, such preference is actually limited to their same nationality peers only due to the limitation of their social network: most Chinese international students hang out with their same nationality peers only rather than expanding their social network t o other pan Asian groups. We may connect such facts with the findings of the importance of third parties: the student organization FACSS has been working on building strong community connections within the Chinese community and most Chinese students built up their social network through mutual friends they initially got to know upon arrival who are most likely to be Chinese. However, it is also highly possible that the settings of the college town had been contributing to the cause of the fact. Since all th e respondents are currently graduate students, they are putting most of their energy on their study and research instead of putting effort in expanding their social network to other racial/ethnicity/national groups. Their experience may become different wh en they move onto their future jobs: they may be able to network with more people of other races/ethnicities/national origins. By now, we can only make the conclusion that Chinese international students on this specific campus would practically prefer thei r same race same nationality peers as their potential mates/spouses Dating and Selecting Mates in Both Norms From the research results we can see that Chinese students try to make an effort to fit into American norm s by adopting westernized standards in ma te selection and western ideolog ies toward dating and family form ation From the interviews and observations, we can see the effort s they have made to adjust to Americanized dating norms: the Chinese student organization tries to creat e opportunities for s ingle students

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111 to meet and get onto the track of developing romantic relationships; some female students expressed that they have made big contributions to the financial costs between the coup le s; and sex and cohabitation have been commonly accepted and pr acticed. However, being brought up in Chinese culture and tradition, these students still kep t some traditional norms on dating and family forming behaviors. Furthermore the close and exclusive Chinese community and social network provide d both prom otion of western dating norm s and protection/reinforcement of Chinese tradition. In some extreme cases, closed and exclusive social network s even function ed by advising C we re kept and partially practiced. Sex and cohabitation we re practiced as under the table norms and considered as topics that Again the way s that Chinese students partially adopt ed Americanized norms and ideologies while keeping and practicing traditional norms they were socialized into in China reflect ed their segmented assimilation: On the one hand, they want ed to consider t hemselves and behave hand y struggle d to carefully navigate and balanc e Chinese crea ting American and Chinese bi cultural identit ies As a Chinese international student myself I really enjoyed the research as the research also help ed me to identify and better understand my own behaviors and ideologies. The results f rom the current study however, revealed a variety of issues that went beyond m y initial expectation s and my daily observations. As an insider, I enjoyed

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112 my conversations, interviews and observations. I used the current research as an academic study as wel l as a self reflection --an opportunity to learn about myself. The research results allowed me to explore the rationales behind Chinese international extended to explor e segmented assimilation among Chinese international students in all aspects of social life in the U.S. However, my research was limited in not being able to examine further the to a grea ter extent. Although some indicated that they would hide some facts such as sex and cohabitation from their parents because of concern about possible critic i s ms all of the respondents suggested that their parents gave them enough freedom and support towa rds their decisions made on intimate relationships. Further studies should definitely investigate how family members in China function as an important tie between Chinese students overseas and their home culture. Also, the current study only reflect s the facts about Chinese students in U.S. society. Some aspect s of the study were very specific to an American setting, particularly the meanings of interracial marriage with in the U.S. racial system. I wonder how Chinese students in less racially diversi fied or hierarchi cal western countries view interracial relationships. Would they be more tolerant towards intermarriage with a variety of racial groups, including dark er skin people in contexts with fewer negative stereotype s and less racialized social re lations? To what extent are taboo s about intermarr iage with other racial minorities influenced by fear s of group sanction within Chinese networks or the effects of interacting within American settings with existing racial prejudices and hierarch ies ? Further research across a variety of

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113 settings should be conducted to explore the influence of both Chinese social networks and varying social contexts in receiving countries and institutions.

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114 APPENDIX L IST OF RESPONDENT WITH GENDER, RELATIONSHIP STATUS, MAJOR AND CHAPTER MENTIONED Alias Gender Relationship Status Major Chapters Mentioned Julia Female Single Non Science /Engineering professional 4 Jane Female Single Non Science /Engineering professional 5 Jennifer Fe male Single Engineering 4,5,6 Linda Female Single Engineering 4,5,6 Jeremy Male Single Engineering 4,6 Jimmy Male Single Science 6 Wayne Male Single Engineering 5,6 Leo Male Single Engineering 5 Ryan Male Single Science 5 Joe Male In a long distance relationship Engineering 4 John Male In a long distance relationship Engineering 4 Charles Male In a long distance relationship Science & Engineering 4 Harry Male In a long distance relationship Mandy Female In a long distance relationship Science 4,5,6 Tiffany Female In a long distance relationship Non Science /Engineering professional 6 Daniel Male In a local relationship Science 4 James Male In a local relationship Engineering 4,6 Doris Female In a local relationship Science 6 Diana Fem ale In a local relationship Non Science /Engineering professional 6 Wendy Female In a local relationship Science 5,6 Eva Female In a local relationship Science 5,6

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116 Gubrium, J.F. & Holstein, J. A. (1998). Narrative practice and coherence of personal stories. Sociological Quarterly, 39, 163 187. H eyin k. J. W ., & Tymstra, T.J. (1993). The functions of qualitative research. Social Indicators Researc h 29, 291 301. Ho, D. Y. ( 1996 ). Filial piety and its psychological consequences In M. H. Bond (Ed.), The handbook of Chinese psychology (pp. 15 5 165 ). New York : Oxford University Press Holland, K. M. (2007). A history of Chinese immigration in the United States and Canada. The American Review of Canadian Studies 37, 150 160. ptions of the problem based learning experience. Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education 4, 36 44. Hynie. M Lalonde. R. N ., & Lee. N. (2006). P arent child value transmission a mong Chinese i m migrants to North America: Th e case of traditional mate p references. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology 12, 230 244. Institu te of International Education. (2012 ). Data table from open doors. Retrieved on June 24th, 2013 from and Publications/Open Doors/Data/International Students/Leading Places of Origin/2010 12 Ir ving, R. (1957). Issues in the concept of need c omplementarity. Sociometry, 20, 216 233. Jankowiak, W. (1989). Sex difference in mate selection and s Republic of China. The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, 22, 63 83. Kalmijn, M. (1991). Status hom ogamy in the United States. American Review of Sociology 97, 496 523. Kalmijn, M. (1998). Intermarriage and homogamy: Causes, patterns, trends. American Review of Sociology 24, 395 421. Kim, B.S., Atkinson, D.R., & Umemoto, D (2001). Asian cultural val ues and the counseling process current knowledge and directions for future research. The Counseling Psychologist 29, 570 603. Kline S. L ., & Liu F. (2005). The influence of comparative media use on acculturation, acculturative stress and family relationships of Chinese international students International Journal of Intercul tural Relations 29, 367 390

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118 Schoen R., & Wooldredge, J. ( 1989 ). Marriage Choices in North Carolina and Virginia, 1969 71 and 1979 81. Journal of Marriage and Family 51, 465 481. Schwartz M. A., & Scott, B.M. ( 2012 ). Marriages and Families: Diversity and Change (7 th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education. Smith, J ., & Osborn, M. (2007). Interpretative phenomenological a nalysis. Qualitative Psychology 27, 53 80. South, S. (1991) Sociodemographic Differentials in Mate Selection Preferences. Journal of Mar riage and Family, 53, 928 940. Sprecher, S ., Sullivan, Q., & Hatfield, E. (1994) Mate selection preferences: Gender differences examined in a national s ample. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 66, 1074 1080. Suzuki, L., & Greenfield, P. (2002 ) The construction of everyday s acrifice in Asian America ns and European Americans: The r oles of e thnicity and a cculturation Cross Cultural Research, 36, 200 228. T ang, S., & Zuo. J. (2000) Dating attitudes and b ehaviors of Americ an and Chinese college s tudents. The Social Science Journal 37, 67 78. US Census Bureau (2010) American community s urvey Washington, DC: US Census Bureau Retrieved from documentation/ 2010_release/ Wang C,DC., & Mallinckrodt, B. ( 2006 ). Acculturation, attachment, and psychosocial adjustment of Chinese/Taiwanese international students. Journal of Counseling Psychology 53, 422 433. Wei, M., Heppner, P P., Mallen, M. J., Ku, T., Liao K. Y., & Wu, T. ( 2007 ) Acculturative stress, perfectionism, years in the United States, and depression among Chinese international students. Journal of Counseling Psychology 54, 385 394 Winch, R. F., Ktsane s, T., & Ktsanes, V. ( 1954 ) The theory of complementary n eeds in mate selection: An analytic and descriptive study, American Sociological Review 19, 241 149. Winkelman M. (1994 ), Cultural shock and a daptation. Journal of Counseling & Development, 73, 121 126 Xu, A. Q. (2000), Standards of mate s election: Changes over 50 years and reason a nalysis Sociological Study, 6, 18 30.

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120 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Chen Xie graduated from Shandong University, P.R. China with a Bach elor of Arts in sociology, 2010. She entered the Ph.D. program of s ociology in Univer sity of Florida the same year. She has finished her M aster of A rts level of courses and requir ement by finishing this thesis in Aug, 2013.