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Original Article

Mother or Wife?

An African Dilemma Tale and the Psychological Dynamics of Sociocultural Change

Published Online:

Inspired by “Mother or Wife” African dilemma tales, the present research utilizes a cultural psychology perspective to explore the dynamic, mutual constitution of personal relationship tendencies and cultural-ecological affordances for neoliberal subjectivity and abstracted independence. We administered a resource allocation task in Ghana and the United States to assess the prioritization of conjugal/nuclear relationships over consanguine/kin relationships along three dimensions of sociocultural variation: nation (American and Ghanaian), residence (urban and rural), and church membership (Pentecostal Charismatic and Traditional Western Mission). Results show that tendencies to prioritize nuclear over kin relationships – especially spouses over parents – were greater among participants in the first compared to the second of each pair. Discussion considers issues for a cultural psychology of cultural dynamics.