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Psychol Sci. 2010 Oct;21(10):1471-8. doi: 10.1177/0956797610382786. Epub 2010 Sep 3.

Relational mobility explains between- and within-culture differences in self-disclosure to close friends.

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Hokkaido University, Behavioral Science, Sapporo, Japan.


In the current research, we tested a novel explanation for previously demonstrated findings that East Asians disclose less personal information to other people than do Westerners. We propose that both between- and within-culture differences in self-disclosure to close friends may be explained by the construct of relational mobility, the general degree to which individuals in a society have opportunities to form new relationships and terminate old ones. In Study 1, we found that cross-cultural differences (Japan vs. United States) in self-disclosure to a close friend were mediated by individuals' perceptions of relational mobility. In Study 2, two separate measures of relational mobility predicted self-disclosure within a single culture (Japan), and this relationship was mediated by the motivation to engage in self-disclosure to strengthen personal relationships. We conclude that societies and social contexts higher in relational mobility (in which relationships can be formed and dissolved relatively easily) produce stronger incentives for self-disclosure as a social-commitment device.

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