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Seeking Help from Close, Same-Sex Friends: Relational Costs for Japanese and Personal Costs for European Canadians Open Access


Other title
relational costs
intersubjective perception
social support
cross-cultural differences
personal costs
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Ito, Kenichi
Supervisor and department
Masuda, Takahiko (Department of Psychology)
Examining committee member and department
Kaori Kabata (Department of East Asian Studies)
Kimberly Noels (Department of Psychology)
Heejung Kim (Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, University of California Santa Barbara)
Elena Nicoladis (Department of Psychology)
Department of Psychology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Seeking help from close, same-sex friends can be costly because the act of seeking help sometimes involves the admission of incompetence (i.e., personal costs) and the disruption to close friendships (i.e., relational costs; cf. Fisher, Nadler, & Whicher-Alagna, 1983). Past research suggested that European Canadians are likely to perceive personal costs (cf. Nadler, 1983); whereas, the Japanese are likely to perceive relational costs (cf. Kim, Sherman, & Taylor, 2008). In three studies, I investigated the ways in which people from different cultural backgrounds utilize these culturally specific costs to form expectations of closeness in friendships. In particular, I used the situation sampling method to collect people’s everyday experiences of seeking help from close, same-sex friends in Study 1. Participants in Studies 2 and 3 were asked to imagine and rate the costs and norms of seeking the help generated in study 1. Based on the two cultural psychological theories, I hypothesized and found that culturally specific costs of seeking help and people’s perceived norms of seeking help simultaneously influenced their expectations of closeness in friendships. The perceptions of personal costs were negatively associated with the perceived norm of seeking help among European Canadian participants, while the perceptions of relational costs were negatively associated with the perceived norm among Japanese participants. In both cultural groups, the perceived norm of seeking help was positively associated with participants’ expectations of closeness in friendships. Implications for the prototype interaction-pattern models in close relationship research and for creating a support program in universities will be discussed.
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