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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Jul 17;115(29):7521-7526. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1713191115. Epub 2018 Jun 29.

Relational mobility predicts social behaviors in 39 countries and is tied to historical farming and threat.

Author information

1
Department of English, Hokusei Gakuen University, Sapporo 004-0042, Japan.
2
Department of Behavioral Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-0810, Japan; myuki@let.hokudai.ac.jp.
3
Department of Behavioral Science, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Chicago, IL 60637.
4
Department of Psychological Sciences, College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA 23185.
5
Department of Sociology and Social Work, Meiji Gakuin University, Tokyo 108-8636, Japan.
6
Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld 33615, Germany.
7
Institute of Psychology, Universität Osnabrück, Osnabrück 49074, Germany.
8
CLLE, Université de Toulouse, CNRS, UT2J, Toulouse 31058, France.
9
Department of Psychology, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong SAR, The People's Republic of China.
10
Department of Psychology, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul 3063, Republic of Korea.
11
Developmental and Educational Psychology, University of Castilla - La Mancha, Albacete, Albacete 2002, Spain.
12
Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest 1117, Hungary.
13
Institute of Psychology, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest H-1053, Hungary.
14
School of Psychology, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NP, United Kingdom.
15
Colegio Colombiano de Psicólogos, Bogotá 110221, Colombia.
16
Department of Psychology, University of Tartu, Tartu 50090, Estonia.
17
Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX2 6PE, United Kingdom.
18
Centre for Advances in Behavioural Science, Coventry University, Coventry CV1 5FB, United Kingdom.
19
Electronic Democracy Expert Group, Reanimation Package of Reforms, Kiev 02000, Ukraine.
20
Department of Psychology, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan 20129, Italy.
21
Institute of Public Health, Collegium Medicum of the Jagiellonian University, Kraków 31-531, Poland.
22
Centre for Applied Cross-Cultural Research, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington 6140, New Zealand.
23
Department of Psychology, University of Porto, Porto 4200-135, Portugal.
24
Institut für Psychologie, Universität der Bundeswehr, Munich 85579, Germany.
25
Institute of Psychology, Leiden University, Leiden 2333 AK, The Netherlands.
26
Managing People in Organizations Department, IESE Business School, Madrid 28010, Spain.
27
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Delhi 110016, India.
28
Department of Experimental and Applied Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam 1081 BT, The Netherlands.

Abstract

Biologists and social scientists have long tried to understand why some societies have more fluid and open interpersonal relationships and how those differences influence culture. This study measures relational mobility, a socioecological variable quantifying voluntary (high relational mobility) vs. fixed (low relational mobility) interpersonal relationships. We measure relational mobility in 39 societies and test whether it predicts social behavior. People in societies with higher relational mobility report more proactive interpersonal behaviors (e.g., self-disclosure and social support) and psychological tendencies that help them build and retain relationships (e.g., general trust, intimacy, self-esteem). Finally, we explore ecological factors that could explain relational mobility differences across societies. Relational mobility was lower in societies that practiced settled, interdependent subsistence styles, such as rice farming, and in societies that had stronger ecological and historical threats.

KEYWORDS:

culture; interpersonal relationships; multicountry; relational mobility; socioecology

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