Ethnic identification and relationship satisfaction in Chinese, Western, and intercultural Chinese–Western couples

Melisa Kaya, W. Kim Halford, Danika N. Hiew, Jeanie Sheffield, Fons J. R. Van De Vijver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Rates of international migration and intercultural marriage are rising. Migrants and intercultural partners may experience challenges in defining their ethnic identity relative to their own heritage culture, their partner’s heritage culture, and the majority culture of their country of residence. The current study examined Chinese and Western ethnic identification and relationship satisfaction in four cultural combinations of couples: Western–Western (Western male–Western female), Chinese–Chinese (Chinese male–Chinese female), Western male–Chinese female, and Chinese male–Western female. All couples were residing in Brisbane, Australia, a multicultural city with a majority Western culture. Intracultural couples (Western–Western and Chinese–Chinese) reported the strongest ethnic identification with their heritage culture and weakest ethnic identification with their nonheritage culture, whereas intercultural couples (Western male–Chinese female and Chinese male–Western female) demonstrated intermediate identification. Greater similarity between partners on ethnic identification with the majority Western culture of Australia predicted greater relationship satisfaction, but there was no association of relationship satisfaction with partner similarity on Chinese ethnic identification. We discuss patterns of ethnic identification in terms of acculturation of immigrants, the selection of partners who are similar in ethnic identification, and accommodation of individuals’ ethnic identification toward their partner’s ethnic identification. (APA PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-136
JournalCouple and family psychology-Research and practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019


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