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Differences between Saudi and U.S. Students in Reaction to Same- and Mixed-Sex Intimacy Shown by Others Research Paper

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Updated: Dec 5th, 2019

Introduction

The title of the journal article of discussion is “Differences between Saudi and U.S. Students in Reaction to Same- and Mixed-Sex Intimacy Shown by Others.” It is an article written by Hewitt, Jay and Alqahtani A. Mushbab of the department of Psychology University of Missouri in Kansa City.

The article is in the Journal of Social Psychology and the citation is as follows: Hewitt Jay and Alqahtani A. Mushbab. Differences between Saudi and U.S. Students in Reaction to Same- and Mixed-Sex Intimacy Shown by Others, The Journal of Social Psychology, 2003, 143(2), 233-242.

Every research is usually undertaken to solve a certain problem. This is done through giving all possible insights in regard to the topic of discussion, analyzing the information got and making informed conclusions based on what has been found out. In this article, the research problem entails same and mixed sex intimacy as depicted by others.

Much focus is however given to the differences in reaction upon the issue as shown by Saudi and United States students. Intimacy is a critical aspect that is viewed differently by different people and cultures and the article seeks to clarify some of the issues involved taking the United States and Saudi Arabian students as research elements.

To gather enough information in the research, three photos of two women sitting at a close, intermediate and far distance from each other were shown to United States and Saudi Arabian students after which there reactions were observed.

Discussion

There are various concepts that have been discussed in the article, each contributing a certain degree to our understanding of the topic of discussion. The theory of symbolic interaction is being tested by the author of this article.

The main concepts that can be depicted from this article include the fact that different issues are responsible in shaping peoples’ behaviour and attitude towards different life aspects for instance on the intimacy between people of the same sex and those of mixed sex as perceived by the United States and the Saudi students.

People tend to act differently towards different things according to the meaning and value they attach to the things. The meanings are usually derived from social interaction among human beings and further modified through the process of interpretation. It is also clear that individuals are best understood when looked at in relation to the environment around them.

This is clearly shown in the different behaviours exhibited by the United States students and those in Saudi, they are completely opposite due to the environments they are exposed to and what is considered to be either wrong or right in each environment (Hewitt and Alqahtani 240).

There are various theoretical perspectives in the field of social psychology each being associated with certain benefits and drawbacks in regard to how well they are able to bring out certain issues. The theoretical perspectives are based on different premises, all aimed at bringing out various aspects of a given study. After reading the article, I think that interactionism perspective of social psychology have been used by the author.

This perspective focuses on the issue of small level social interaction. The core principles that underlie this perspective include meaning which is an aspect that is assigned, language a concept that is constructed through human beings social interactions as well as thought which influences individuals’ interpretations.

From the article, we find the different groups of students coming up with different reactions based on the meanings they attach to the photos shown in regard to intimacy. From the study, people in the United States of America seem to be more comfortable with public displays of male to female intimacy than with public displays of male to male intimacy.

On the other hand, the most Muslim related nations such as Saudi Arabia seem to have completely different views where they react positively to intimacy between the same sexes as opposed to that expressed between individuals of the opposite sex.

In the process of carrying out a research, a researcher is out to come up with an appropriate research design and sample in order to get effective results. The study involved 82 participants including 20 Saudi Arabian men, 20 United States men, 18 Saudi Arabian women and 24 United States women. This is a representative sample that would help in obtaining effective results.

Due to the differences in culture among the participants, different approaches were used for instance, the fact that Saudi men and women did not mix led to use of two people to gather information from them. Questionnaires were used in which three photos were used and the participants asked to imagine nine scenes after which they would indicate how comfortable or uncomfortable they were with each scene:

“Two brothers, two sisters, and a brother-sister pair sitting at each of the three distances. For each scene, participants rated their degree of comfort on a Likert-type scale, ranging from 7 (extremely comfortable) to 1 (extremely uncomfortable) with 4 being the neutral point (neither comfortable nor uncomfortable)” (Hewitt and Alqahtani 237).

Hypothesis is an incredibly critical element in carrying out research. It helps in gathering all relevant information that entails to a certain statement. In this case, the hypothesis being tested is the relationship between distance and comfort between people of the same sex and those of the opposite sex as depicted by students from the United States and those for Saudi Arabia.

There exist independent and dependent variables which help in coming up with comparisons that in turn allow for making of informed conclusions. The variables entail distance and nationality and comfort respectively.

For instance, “Hypothesis la: In imagining an interaction between two brothers, the U.S. participants feel more comfortable as distance increases, whereas Hypothesis lb: the Saudi participants feel more comfortable as distance decreases” (Hewitt and Alqahtani 237).

There exists various research findings that could be depicted from the research carried out in this article. The findings include; Saudi students were more comfortable with decreasing distance in brother to brother interactions and less comfortable with decreasing distance between brother to sister interactions.

The United States students showed an opposite reaction. Another crucial finding is that women are more comfortable with the intimacy of sisterhood as opposed to what is observed among men, generally irrespective of culture. The research findings are extremely important in evaluating the hypothesis in question.

Ethical issues in research are very crucial. In every research, it is important to keep the confidentiality of the data retrieved. In order to maximize the privacy of the respondents in this study, the names of the respondents were not necessary. The respondents were also free to participate in the research voluntarily. This increased the level of comfortability making it easy to gather adequate information from the participants.

Despite having carried out the research on intimacy among individuals of the same sex as well as those of mixed sexes, the author still feels that there are some gaps left and some questions ought to be answered to make the whole project a success. For this reason, some further research was suggested.

This entails utilization of different research methodology in an aim of coming up with an objective way of gauging the interaction distance and its effects. This will in a way improve the research results through avoiding the need to use subjective ratings in regard to either comfort or discomfort as depicted by the participants.

According to the author of the article, it would be of essence for future researchers engaged in this topic to ask people in the United States and Saudi Arabia among other countries to give an insight into the aspect of emotional closeness to various targets. This will enhance understanding of the issue of discussion (Hewitt and Alqahtani 241).

Different research works produce different results. The quality of the research could differ based on what is achieved and the effectiveness in which the research problem is tackled for instance through provision of answers to the research questions raised. I consider the research report to be of high quality.

This is because the data that was collected from the research study seem adequate in regard to providing answers to the raised research questions. The data also gave enough insight that helped in the verification of the formulated hypothesis. From the discussion part of this article, it is evident that the authors really tried to report theoretical findings through appropriate interpretation of the collected data.

Here, the authors first gave the prediction, and then the findings got from the study and later a combination of the two to make the right judgment. Previous research findings were also considered.

There are various research methods that could be used in carrying out a certain study. The choice depends on the researcher and how best he or she perceives each method to be effective in bringing out the desired result. For instance, the author in this article used qualitative research method, using questionnaires in a case study, to carry out the study.

Given a chance to replicate, extend or even improve the study, I would consider using participatory research method. This is because it is associated with a lot of benefits for instance taking specific details that would otherwise not be possible and also manipulating the research environment to avoid affecting the respondents in a negative manner that would hinder obtaining good results.

The aspect of social psychology of human actions is interesting but complex. It requires a lot of efforts to understand. This could be achieved through carrying out research and using appropriate research methods and designs. In this case, I consider taking participatory research method to be helpful in my understanding of the social psychology of human actions.

Interviews (face to face) would also work better in giving first hand information. This is because one is able to be part of the research fully and understand the influence of the environment. As stated earlier, different people attach different meaning to different things and interact differently.

There exist a variety of social psychological perspectives each differing from the other depending on the premises that form it or rather what it is based upon. As mentioned earlier, the author of the article in question used the interactionist social psychological perspective under the symbolic interaction theory to carry out the study and analyze the results.

This does not however mean that other social psychological perspectives could not be used in this research. For instance, the following perspectives would be applied; social structural perspective, social learning perspective, social cultural perspective and social cognitive perspective.

The fact that the social psychological perspectives are unique in their ways dictates that although there could be no major differences in the results attained in using different perspectives, there ought to be some insights that would be revealed through one perspective and not in the other.

Social Structural Perspective deals with structural functionalism where the society is viewed in terms of role of the constituent elements; the traditions, institutions, norms and customs. Social learning perspective emphasizes on the significance of unique experiences and the fact that we learn behaviours through observation and imitation.

Social cultural perspective on the other hand emphasizes the importance of culture and social norms and how they shape behaviour. Lastly, social cognitive perspective states that we observe, interpret and critic other peoples’ behaviour and that patterns of thought influence behaviour (Cherry par. 3).

The use of different social psychological perspectives will definitely enhance the understanding of social psychology of human actions and more so the topic of discussion in this article, that is, Differences between Saudi and U.S. Students in Reaction to Same- and Mixed-Sex Intimacy Shown by Others. It will for instance show how ones role in the society affects behaviour and perception, how observation and imitation forms behaviour and generally, what causes different views in different people concerning a certain issue for instance intimacy.

Conclusion

The aspect of social psychology of human actions is interesting but complex. It requires a lot of efforts to understand. This could be achieved through carrying out research and using appropriate research methods and designs. The author of the article has however tried to bring out various insights that enhance our understanding of social psychology of human actions.

Works Cited

Cherry, Kendra. “What Are the Major Perspectives in Social Psychology?” About.com. 2011. 8 October 2011. <>

Hewitt Jay and Alqahtani Mushbab. Differences between Saudi and U.S. Students in Reaction to Same- and Mixed-Sex Intimacy Shown by Others, The Journal of Social Psychology, 2003, 143(2), 233-242.

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