Relational mobility predicts social behaviors in 39 countries and is tied to historical farming and threat
Keywords: 
Relational mobility
Culture
Socioecology
Multicountry
Interpersonal relationships
Issue Date: 
29-Jun-2018
Publisher: 
National Academy of Sciences
ISSN: 
0027-8424
1091-6490
Editorial note: 
This open access article is distributed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND).
Citation: 
Thomson, R. (Robert); Yuki, M. (Masaki); Talhelm, T. (Thomas); et al. "Relational mobility predicts social behaviors in 39 countries and is tied to historical farming and threat". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). 115 (29), 2018-06-29, 1713191115
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.
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