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© Borgis - New Medicine 3/2015, s. 100-109 | DOI: 10.5604/14270994.1179855
Csenge Földvári-Nagy1, 2, *Dezső Módos3, Helga Judit Feith4, Katalin Lenti3
Quantitative study of the generational changes among relationship habits in highly educated Hungarian population
1Illyès Gyula High School, Budaörs, Hungary
Head of School: Pèter Árendás
2Hungarian Research Student Association, Budapest, Hungary
Head of Association: Éva Bènyei
3Department of Morphology and Physiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Semmelweis University
Head of Department: prof. Gabriella Dörnyei, PhD
4Department of Social Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
Head of Department: Helga Judit Feith, PhD
Introduction. Forming of romantic relationships is part of the maturing process of adolescents. Nowadays the most of the marriages are ending with divorce. It causes the decline of Hungarian population.
Aim. The aim of our study was to see, how dating customs and cultural norms changed during different generations of highly educated Hungarian population in different genders.
Material and methods. We made four generations of highly educated participants fill questioners. All questions were about the age of adolescence of the participant.
Results. We found due to emancipation the dynamics of relationships changed. Physical contact is getting more accepted, and the gap of desired physical connection is getting narrower between genders at the first date. Meanwhile the number of romantic relationships of current teenagers decreased to the 70’s adolescents. The most important place to get to know their significant other for a teenager is school, like it was before. Interestingly in the age of internet source of information about relationships is still peers.
Conclusions. The role of educational facilities cannot be overemphasized to bring up adults with ability to form successful relationships. For a healthy marriage we propose to involve peer students to educate the peers about romantic relationships and sexuality. Altogether this can help to form better marriages, less divorce in conclusion more childbirth.
Since the 1980s the ratio of singles in the whole Hungarian population has steadily increased (from 17.7 to 32.6%), based on the Hungarian Central Statistical Office data, while the number of divorcees also shows a steady, though slower increase (from 4.7 to 11.6%) (1).
The forming of relationships in the traditional Hungarian society were determined by different rites (2), just like in any other European country. The social interactions between the different genders took place in a controlled fashion, while the social norms (e.g. customs, moral norms) regulating these were basically influenced by social stratification. From the second half of the 20th century the social rules have been changed and loosened gradually, thanks to the radical changes in the Hungarian society after the Word War II. The most influencing changes were the urbanization, the mass-employment of women, the generalization of dual-earner family model, the gradual increase in the education of women etc. One of the consequences of these revolutionary changes was the emergence of mixed education from the sixties (3). All these effects promoted and intensified the inter- and intra-generational mobility.
Based on Hungarian demographic and sociological studies, the changes of relationships have the largest effect on fertility, and the ratio of single-parent families, which in turn lead to the modification of social norms, values and customs (4, 5). These fundamental changes in traditional norms are caused by the fragmentation of traditional communities and augment of individualism. The loosening or lack of norms weakens the adaptation to community standards (6, 7). As a result, today’s Hungarian youth tend to merry later, but already 10% of the 15-year-olds have a boyfriend/girlfriend (8).
The first relationships, as a key part of maturation, are formed in adolescence simultaneously with observable physiological changes during puberty (9-11). The number of relationships differs by gender. Boys have more relationships and they form them at an earlier age than girls (8, 12, 13). The normal behavioural patterns essential for a normal relationship are developed during adolescence, which is a preliminary requirement of successful marriage. Nowadays the majority of Hungarian teenagers still seek marriage and search for a partner with whom he/she can live his/her life together (14). The knowledge of dating habits is mainly coming from peers (15). In addition the media has a very important role. Especially the television series are far-reaching source of dating and relationship models (16, 17). Young people still prefer appearance to social status (18). In parallel with changes in social values the supporting character of relationships becomes more important over sexuality (19).
In our study we were interested to know how the relationship patterns, as well as the related knowledge and attitudes change in successive generations; how the alteration of social norms can be perceived in relationship habits; if we can see the effect of change of traditional society norms in relationship customs; how the dating customs, dating places, frequency of relationships of nowadays teenagers changed compared to their parents or grandparents. Best of our knowledge there is no such study in Hungary which asks different age groups about their teenage dating customs.
We used both open-ended and closed-ended questions containing self-completed questionnaires for the study. Participants completed the questioners anonymously. The questions were validated with preliminary interviews. The questions in all age group aimed at the participants teenage customs. The questions aimed the dating sites, the source of relationship and sexual knowledge, the preferences, and the relevance of the opinion of parents and friends. Besides these we studied the importance of the first date and sexual behaviour on first date, and we were also interested how the numbers of relationships changed between generations.
We studied four age groups. All four age groups were highly educated. The age groups were the following: age group 1: current teenagers, students of an elite high school from Budaörs between age 14-19 (median: 15, standard deviation 1.25), n = 327; age group 2: university students of Semmelweis University in Budapest between age 20-25 (median: 21, standard deviation: 1.34), n = 328; age group 3: white collar workers between age 25-65 (median: 43, standard deviation: 9.19), n = 350; age group 4: elderly people, retired professionals over 65 (median: 79, standard deviation: 8.03), n = 264. In total we processed 1269 questioners. The study was carried out between November 2014 and January 2015. The non-response rate was less than 5%.
The statistical evaluation of responses was performed by IBM SPSS Statistic Base version 20.0.0. We applied Chi square tests, ANOVA, two sample t-test or Bernoulli test depending on the type of data. Null hypothesis was always that there was no correlation or difference between groups. In case of Bernoulli tests we assumed that in each category the various responses had the same ratio.
Place of contact making
The place of contact highly depended on gender (p < 0.001 Chi square test) and age group (p < 0.001 Chi square test).
The respondents in all age groups generally met at school. The preference of any other place in all age groups was significantly lower, but the second place depended on age groups. The age group 1 preferred house parties, the age group 3 preferred discos, meanwhile the age group 2 and 4 met at every venue (libraries, ice skating rinks, etc.) as a teenager. If we split the different age groups by genders, the results slightly differ. Women in the age group 4 prefer before their schools other places like libraries, ice-rinks, staircases of houses etc. where boys addressed them. This result is not surprising, since in the teenage years of the elderly population mixed education was not common in Hungary (3). Because of this it is surprising, that the school was a place to make contact for 25% of elderly participants (tab. 1).
Table 1. Place of contact making in different age groups and genders.
 Age group
Σ %#M %#F %Σ %#M %#F %Σ %#M %#F %Σ %#M %#F %
House party38172124101436181820515
Extracurricular activities101202660505
Pop concerts5231001018180000
Classical concerts00020266010010
Other (e.g. library, by parents, internet, staircase etc.)13763711263003085580*
Σ – sum of specific age group, #M – number of males, #F – number of females, * – the highest answer of each age group and in each gender. Note the constant importance of school.
Source of relationship knowledge
There is a strong correlation between the gender and the sources of relationship knowledge (Chi square test p < 0.001). Women significantly relied more on their friends than men. Interestingly it depended also on age group (tab. 2). The currently elderly or university student men got the knowledge of relationships from friends, but the current adults (age group 3) from their own experiences. Women got their knowledge about relationships from their friends, except in age group 4. We assume, that in their youth the sexuality and relationships were taboo (20), and they did not even talk about it with girlfriends, so their own experience was the only source of information (this hypothesis requires further research).
Table 2. Source of information about relationships.
Age groupGenderSource of information about relationships
FriendsOwn experienceFilms/televisionBooks/magazinesRelativesOther (teachers, internet)
*The highest percentage of answers in each age group and in each gender
Behind the gender specific difference can stand evolutionary atavism. Women had to care for each other. The survival and parental care would be the most effective in groups of same gender peers. The source of knowledge would be also these peers. Parents often complain that their children prefer to believe in their friends then their parents (21, 22). Man hunted and in the fight for survival interdependence and experience appeared as well.
It seems to be obvious that regardless of generation the most dominant source of information is friends/girlfriens. It would be a strategic innovation that well-prepared students keep sex education to their peers instead of teachers, parents or other media. The same method can be applied in case of drug and crime prevention. This methodology is sucessfully used in Great Britain (23).
The type of the chosen partner

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otrzymano: 2015-06-29
zaakceptowano do druku: 2015-07-13

Adres do korespondencji:
*Dezső Módos
Department of Morphology and Physiology Faculty of Health Sciences Semmelweis University
Vas u. 17 Room 327, Budapest, H-1088, Hungary
tel.: +36 20 4454043

New Medicine 3/2015
Strona internetowa czasopisma New Medicine