The topic “romantic love” interests a lot of researchers, many of whom sought to define romantic love in different cultures. In this thesis project, we asked the fundamental but understudied question: What is romantic love to Chinese? While romantic love was believed to be essential in marriages in Western cultures, family approval and financial support were found to be valued in marriages in China where there has been a long history of arranged marriages. In China, a dating relationship was considered as a prelude/routine to marriage. How was romantic love, as compared to other considerations (e.g., family approval and financial support), valued in dating relationships and marriages among the Chinese nowadays? Was romantic love related to cultural and individual differences variables?
In Study 1, I used the free-listing method to generate attributes of romantic love based on which I mapped out the underlying structure of romantic love among the Chinese. Four dimensions of romantic love were found, and they were companionship, commitment, passionate romance, and infatuation. In Study 2, I tested whether culture (Hong Kong vs. mainland China) and individual differences (personality, love style, and attachment style) were related to how people value romantic love. In dating relationships, both Hong Kong Chinese (HKC) and mainland Chinese (MC) valued romantic love the most; in marriages, HKC valued romantic love and compatibility and MC valued compatibility. Individual differences correlated with how people value romantic love in dating and marriages. For instance, people who were high on Neuroticism emphasized more on romantic love whereas those who were high on Extraversion valued family approval more; people with pragma style considered financial capability more than did those with agape style. Findings support a four-factor structure of romantic love which is valued more (as compared with other considerations) in dating relationship than in marriages and suggest that individual differences provide insight into romantic love.