Communal Strength Norms in the United States and Egypt


  • Sherri P. Pataki
  • Safia Fathelbab
  • Margaret S. Clark
  • Catharine H. Malinowski


Two studies investigated norms related to communal strength in the United States and Egypt. Communal strength reflects the extent to which individuals feel responsible for meeting the needs of relationship partners, varies between relationships, and predicts caregiving. Participants indicated the communal strength marital partners should feel towards their spouse, mother, and best friend. In the United States, women reported wives should feel the most communal strength towards their husbands and mothers, but husbands should feel more towards their wives than mothers or best friends. American men reported both spouses should feel the highest communal strength towards their spouses and mothers. In Egypt, men and women agreed that wives should have the highest communal strength for their husbands and mothers, but husbands should have higher communal strength for their mothers than their wives or best friends. These findings reflect cultural variation in the perception of ideal communal strength following marriage, and highlight the ways in which expectations related to caregiving may differ between spouses.