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Building and Sustaining Intercultural Relationships: Public Perceptions and Practical Benefits of Friendships and Romantic Relationships in Intercultural Contexts
Unformatted Document Text:  Building and Sustaining Intercultural Relationships 6 Beginning an Intercultural Relationship There are four general principles why a relationship begins. These principles include proximity, similarity, complementarity, and physical attraction. Intercultural and interracial friendships seem to begin with a simple element: proximity or personal contact with a person from another culture or race. Personal contact between differing races “has been effective in the development of interracial friendships in desegregated schools” (Sachdeva, 1972, p. 45). A study in Social Science Quarterly found that interracial contact, especially when it occurs early in life, enhances the probability that African Americans will develop close friendships with European Americans (Ellison & Powers, 1994). When individuals are placed in similar spaces with members of other cultures and races, the friendship process may begin. The second reason why an intercultural relationship may begin is explained by the similarity principle. According to this principle, which applies to many cultural groups, we tend to be attracted to others that are similar to ourselves (Osbeck & Moghaddam, 1997; Tan & Singh, 1995). For instance, similarities in beliefs or values, such as a belief in God or a certain political stance, may help begin a friendship. When people find similarities, they usually have increased expectations for future interactions (LaGaipa, 1987). The third reason why an intercultural relationship may begin is based on the complementarity principle. Too much similarity may not be beneficial. This principle holds that we may be attracted to others who are different from us, which creates a sense of balance in the relationship. Clearly, intercultural relationships present differences that

Authors: Docan, Tony.
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Building and Sustaining Intercultural Relationships 6
Beginning an Intercultural Relationship
There are four general principles why a relationship begins. These principles
include proximity, similarity, complementarity, and physical attraction. Intercultural and
interracial friendships seem to begin with a simple element: proximity or personal contact
with a person from another culture or race. Personal contact between differing races “has
been effective in the development of interracial friendships in desegregated schools”
(Sachdeva, 1972, p. 45). A study in Social Science Quarterly found that interracial
contact, especially when it occurs early in life, enhances the probability that African
Americans will develop close friendships with European Americans (Ellison & Powers,
1994). When individuals are placed in similar spaces with members of other cultures and
races, the friendship process may begin.
The second reason why an intercultural relationship may begin is explained by the
similarity principle. According to this principle, which applies to many cultural groups,
we tend to be attracted to others that are similar to ourselves (Osbeck & Moghaddam,
1997; Tan & Singh, 1995). For instance, similarities in beliefs or values, such as a belief
in God or a certain political stance, may help begin a friendship. When people find
similarities, they usually have increased expectations for future interactions (LaGaipa,
1987).
The third reason why an intercultural relationship may begin is based on the
complementarity principle. Too much similarity may not be beneficial. This principle
holds that we may be attracted to others who are different from us, which creates a sense
of balance in the relationship. Clearly, intercultural relationships present differences that


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