Analyzing Cultural Models in Adolescent Accounts of Romantic Relationships

Milbrath C. , Ohlson B. , Eyre S.


Research on academic achievement has led the way in demonstrating how culturally constructed meanings shape adolescent scholastic behavior. The aim of this research is to move this standpoint of analysis more centrally into the area of adolescent dating and sexuality by focusing on the cultural components of adolescent romantic relationships. This study examines cultural models of romantic relationships in Vernacular Term Interviews of 68 African American and 59 Mexican American 11th- and 12th-grade female and male high school students. A subset of interviews was analyzed first qualitatively to identify the models. The models then were committed to a manual and 4 analytic coders established reliability before coding all interviews blind as to race/ethnicity and gender of the adolescent. The resultant data were summarized by a principal components analysis that yielded 5 interpretable factors. Factor scores were computed and compared for gender and race/ethnicity differences. The results demonstrated clear differences in factors by race/ethnicity but not by gender. Results are discussed in relation to cultural differences described in the literature for these 2 populations.


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