Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Family Consumer Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

J. Steven Fulks


J. Steven Fulks


Jay D. Schvaneveldt


Glen Jenson


The purpose of this study was to explore cultural differences between America and Japan concerning four domains: past family relationships, current family relationships, the support network, and well-being.

Concern and consensus in the family are the principal background issues in this study. In America there has been a change from consensus (sharing basic similarity of values or attitudes and interests) to concern (an intense emotional involvement and affectional closeness). In contrasting the American and Japanese societies, consensus and concern constitute different orders from a more traditional context to the current societal context. This cultural difference impacts the relationship between the dynamics of the family in the early formative years, and how the individual responds within the current family. Ramifications are apparent in the quality of the current relationships, use of informal and formal support networks, and individual well-being.

The Family of Origin Scale was used to measure past family relationships. The Positive Affect Index and Interaction Index were used to measure current family relationships. The support network was measured by questions selected from the Older Americans Resources and Services Program. The revised version of the Philadelphia Geriatric Center Moral Scale, the Life Satisfaction Index A, and the LSI-K (1990) constituted the measurement devices for personal well-being. The sample consisted of elderly individuals 70 to 79 years of age, 77 from America and 42 from Japan.

The major finding in America was that this society has changed from a consensus to a concern orientation. For example, autonomy is positively related to personal well-being. The relationship holds true in terms of past family experiences as well as current family relationships.

The data also show the impact of rapid social change in the nation of Japan. Japanese culture reflects an orientation change from traditional family concern to more of a consensus perspective. Family and personal well-being are related to perceived family intimacy in the past. A positive perception of current family relations was related to solidarity. It was concluded that rapid social change and modernization in Japan have brought about these major changes in terms of consensus and concern. Shifts on these two dimensions have implications for the adjustment and well-being of the elderly in a family context.