INTERNET ROMANCE EXPERIENCES - A CROSS-CULTURAL STUDY
 
Leung, C. and Rohrmann, B., University of Melbourne, Australia
 
The study investigates how Australian (predominantly "individualistic") and Chinese (mainly "collectivistic") young adults aged 18-25 establish, evaluate and maintain "Internet Romance", i.e., love relationships established via Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) such as e-mail, message groups, or chatrooms. In Study A, a survey based on a standardised questionnaire, 80 participants were divided into four groups: Australian or Chinese with Internet Relationship Experience (AY and CY respectively), or without such experience (AN and CN). Main results are: AY and CY are less skeptical towards CMC than AN and CN, and view Internet Romance more positively. However AY score higher social risks propensity than CY. The Chinese sample prefers to find potential partners on-line more than the Australian sample, but is more likely to conceal the fact that they met on- line. In general, all participants still prefer to meet potential boyfriends/girlfriends in conventional ways rather than via the Internet. In Study B, an exploratory investigation, 5 Australian and 5 Chinese were recruited from the Internet to discuss their Internet Romance experience via qualitative on-line interviews. The findings show that Internet Romance is a serious matter for the participants and often progresses to "real life". Relevant issues related to Internet Romance e.g. on-line honesty, discrepancy between on-line persona and real life behaviour, and "cyber infidelity" are discussed. The results provide a better understanding of Internet-based relationships and could be utilised for applied psychology tasks such as the counselling of couples whose conflicts are linked to "Internet affairs".