Population density pushes the 'slow life'February 14, 2017
Big cities with lots of people usually garner images of a fast paced life, where the hustle and bustle of the city is met, and at least tolerated, by those who live there. They live for the "rush" of city life, and all of the competition that lies therein.
But a new study by Arizona State University shows the opposite may be true - that one psychological effect of population density is for those people to adopt a "slow life strategy." This strategy focuses more on planning for the long-term future and includes tactics like preferring long-term romantic relationships, having fewer children and investing more in education.
The study, "The crowded life is a slow life: Population density and life history strategy," was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Its findings provide novel insights into how population density affects human psychology, and has implications for thinking about population growth, environmental influences on social behavior, and human cultural diversity.
"Our findings are contrary to the notion that crowded places are chaotic and socially problematic," said Oliver Sng, who led the research while a doctoral student at ASU and who now is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan. "People who live in dense places seem to plan for the future more, prefer long-term romantic relationships, get married later in life, have fewer children and invest a lot in each child. They generally adopt an approach to life that values quality over quantity."
Sng, with ASU Foundation Professor Steven Neuberg and ASU psychology professors Douglas Kenrick and Michael Varnum, used data from nations around the world and the 50 U.S. states to show that population density naturally correlates with these slow life strategies. Then, in a series of experiments (e.g., in which people read about increasing crowdedness or heard sounds of a crowded environment), they found that perceptions of crowdedness cause people to delay gratification and prefer slower, more long-term, mating and parenting behaviors.
Why? Using evolutionary life history theory, Neuberg notes that different strategies are useful in different kinds of environments.
"In environments where population density is low, and there is thus relatively little competition for available resources, there are few costs but lots of advantages to adopting a 'fast' strategy," he suggested. "On the other hand, when the environment gets crowded, individuals have to compete vigorously with others for the available resources and territory."
"To be successful in this competition, they need to invest more in building up their own abilities, which tends to delay having children," he added. "Because this greater social competition also affects their kids, they tend to focus more of their time and energy on enhancing their abilities and competitiveness. So a slow strategy--in which one focuses more on the future and invests in quality over quantity--tends to enhance the reproductive success of individuals in high density environments."
Will higher densities always lead to this slow strategy? "Not at all," said Sng. "In fact, when high densities are paired with unpredictable death or disease, the theory predicts that people will become more present-focused and opportunistic."
Sng added that the "slow life strategy, when brought to its extremes, also has its own pitfalls. Consider, for example, the pre-school craze in dense places like New York City, where parents are obsessed with getting their children into the best pre-schools. There are similar phenomenon emerging in dense countries like Japan and Singapore."
"With the world's population growing," Neuberg added, "it seems more important than ever to understand the psychological effects of overcrowding and how living in crowded environments might influence people's behaviors. Applying a new perspective to an old question is allowing us to reexamine the effects of living in crowded environments."
Arizona State University
Related Children Articles:
A new special section of the journal Child Development includes a collection of ten empirical articles and one theoretical article focusing on the predictors, outcomes, and mechanisms related to children's motivations for prosocial actions, such as helping and sharing.
While compressions-only or Hands-Only CPR is as good as conventional CPR for adults, children benefit more from the conventional approach that includes rescue breaths.
A new study by researchers at Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York suggests that more than one-quarter million school-age children with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental disorders wander away from adult supervision each year.
Research highlights positive strengths in developmental learning for Latino children in low-income households based on their interactive play skills.
Black children were less likely to receive any pain medication for moderate pain and less likely to receive opioids for severe pain than white children in a study of racial disparities in the pain management of children with appendicitis in emergency departments, according to an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics.
Children with relapsed tumors and their parents are finding hope in a Phase I research study led by Kenneth G.
Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center has joined a clinical trial of immunotherapy for children with relapsed or treatment-resistant acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
Children as young as 5 years old are less likely to help a person in need when other children are present and available to help, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Researchers from Tanzania and South Africa, who are part of the Cochrane Infectious Disease Group, hosted at LSTM, have conducted an independent review to assess the effect of intermittent preventive antimalarial treatment for children with anaemia living in malaria endemic regions.
Children are experts at getting into danger. So, how can parents help prevent the consequences?
Related Children Reading:
Giraffes Can't Dance
by Giles Andreae (Author), Guy Parker-Rees (Illustrator)
The bestselling Giraffes Can't Dance is now a board book! Giraffes Can't Dance is a touching tale of Gerald the giraffe, who wants nothing more than to dance. With crooked knees and thin legs, it's harder for a giraffe than you would think. Gerald is finally able to dance to his own tune when he gets some encouraging words from an unlikely friend. With light-footed rhymes and high-stepping illustrations, this tale is gentle inspiration for every child with dreams of greatness. View Details
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children)
by Ransom Riggs (Author)
The #1 New York Times Best Seller is now a major motion picture from visionary director Tim Burton, starring Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Ella Purnell, Samuel L. Jackson, and Judi Dench.
Includes an excerpt from Hollow City and an interview with author Ransom Riggs
A mysterious island.
An abandoned orphanage.
A strange collection of very curious photographs.
It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that... View Details
The Pout-Pout Fish
by Deborah Diesen (Author), Dan Hanna (Illustrator)
A NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER
Deep in the water,
Mr. Fish swims about
With his fish face stuck
In a permanent pout.
Can his pals cheer him up?
Will his pout ever end?
Is there something he can learn
From an unexpected friend?
Swim along with the pout-pout fish as he discovers that being glum and spreading "dreary wearies" isn't really his destiny. Bright ocean colors and playful rhyme come together in Deborah Diesen's fun fish story that's sure to turn... View Details
The Seven Silly Eaters
by Mary Ann Hoberman (Author), Marla Frazee (Illustrator)
Peter wants only milk, Lucy won’t settle for anything but homemade lemonade, and Jack is stuck on applesauce. Each new addition to the household brings a new demand for a special meal. What’s a mother to do? “[A] highly comic rhyming romp that surprisingly (and nicely) twists into a birthday story.” —School Library Journal View Details
The Midnight Line: A Jack Reacher Novel
by Lee Child (Author)
#1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child returns with a gripping new powerhouse thriller featuring Jack Reacher, “one of this century’s most original, tantalizing pop-fiction heroes” (The Washington Post).
Reacher takes a stroll through a small Wisconsin town and sees a class ring in a pawn shop window: West Point 2005. A tough year to graduate: Iraq, then Afghanistan. The ring is tiny, for a woman, and it has her initials engraved on the inside. Reacher wonders what unlucky circumstance made her give up something she earned over four hard years. He... View Details
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
by Siegfried Engelmann (Author), Phyllis Haddox (Author), Elaine Bruner (Author)
Is your child halfway through first grade and still unable to read? Is your preschooler bored with coloring and ready for reading? Do you want to help your child read, but are afraid you'll do something wrong? RAs DISTARreg; is the most successful beginning reading program available to schools across the country. Research has proven that children taught by the DISTARreg; method outperform their peers who receive instruction from other programs. Now for the first time, this program has been adapted for parent and child to use at home. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons is a complete,... View Details
by Fiona Barton (Author)
One of the most highly anticipated thrillers of the year—as seen in People, Entertainment Weekly, Time, USA Today, Bustle, Good Housekeeping.com, HelloGiggles, The Boston Globe, PureWow, The Dallas Morning News, and more!
“The Child is a perfect blend of beach read and book club selection. It’s a fascinating and fitting follow-up to [Barton’s] best-selling debut novel, The Widow. . . .[A] page-turning whodunit….A novel that is both fast-paced and thought-provoking, it keeps the reader guessing right to the... View Details
The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children
by Ross W. Greene PhD (Author)
A groundbreaking approach to understanding and parenting children who frequently exhibit severe fits of temper and other intractable behaviors, from a distinguished clinician and pioneer in this field.
What’s an explosive child? A child who responds to routine problems with extreme frustration—crying, screaming, swearing, kicking, hitting, biting, spitting, destroying property, and worse. A child whose frequent, severe outbursts leave his or her parents feeling frustrated, scared, worried, and desperate for help. Most of these parents have tried... View Details
But No Elephants (Once upon a Time)
by Jerry Smath (Author), Jerry Smath (Illustrator)
Grandma Tildy lived all alone, until a salesman stopped by to sell her a pet. She welcomed a canary bird into her home, but made it very clear that she wanted NO ELEPHANTS! This heart-warming children's book, written and illustrated by Jerry Smath, will delight parents and children from beginning to finish. View Details
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, 4th Edition: A Step-by-Step Program for a Good Night's Sleep
by Marc Weissbluth M.D. (Author)
The perennial favorite for parents who want to get their kids to sleep with ease—now in a completely revised and expanded fourth edition!
In this fully updated fourth edition, Dr. Marc Weissbluth, one of the country’s leading pediatricians, overhauls his groundbreaking approach to solving and preventing your children’s sleep problems, from infancy through adolescence. In Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, he explains with authority and reassurance his step-by-step regime for instituting beneficial habits within the framework of your child’s natural... View Details