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But China’s cultural context goes back several thousands of years.It has a written language that has been in use for the longest continuous period of time in the world, and it has the oldest written history (Han ).While dating and sexual activity among Chinese college students have been previously noted by researchers (e.g., Xu ), comparatively less is known about the attitudes and expectations of youth concerning these behaviors.In regard to premarital sex, for example, some studies have reported that 86 % of respondents approve of it (see Tang and Zuo ).Seemingly, contemporary Chinese college students may be adopting a perspective of dating and intimate relationships which focuses less on paths toward marriage and more on immediate pleasure and gratification (Yang ).Not surprisingly, Chinese parents tend to strongly discourage their daughters and sons from becoming sexual active, and many are opposed to their children being involved in dating relationships, at all (Stevenson and Zusho ).
One of the enduring cultural traits is “xiao,” which, in the most basic sense, refers to filial piety.
While researchers have long examined the dating and mate selection patterns among young adults, the vast majority have utilized Western samples.
In order to further our understanding of the changing nature of dating behaviors and attitudes, this study examines a sample of young Chinese adults and focuses upon the gender differences therein.
For sons, in particular, “xiao” makes finding a spouse a priority and consequently makes dating take on a different quality.
China is typically regarded as a collectivistic culture, in which obligations to the greater society and social institutions (e.g., the family) are considered more important than individual traits and needs (Kwang ).The Chinese character for “xiao” can visually be interpreted as a child with an old man on his back (Han ).