Nav: Home

Relational mobility may influence your interpersonal behaviors

June 26, 2018

A large-scale analysis has suggested it's easier for people to form and replace relationships in North America, Europe and Latin America, compared to Asia and the Middle East, what causes these differences, and how they may influence people's thoughts and behavior.

Researchers from Hokkaido University in Japan and 25 collaborating universities and organizations worldwide have reported how much freedom and choice people from 39 different countries and regions have in their interpersonal relationships. Researchers used advertisements placed on Facebook to recruit nearly 17,000 people to a poll in order to assign each country a "relational mobility" ranking from high to low. Countries with the highest relational mobility were found to be in North and South America, Europe, and Australasia (Australia and New Zealand), while those with the lowest were concentrated in the Middle East and Asia.

The team measured relational mobility by asking participants how much opportunity they have to meet new people, and how much freedom they have in beginning or ending a relationship. People from societies assigned a high relational mobility rank showed an overall higher rate of personal self-esteem, closeness in friendship, and proactive interpersonal behaviors such as disclosing personal secrets. In contrast, people from societies assigned a low relational mobility rank mentioned having lower levels of self-esteem and trust. However, people from societies with low relational mobility tend to expect more permanence and stability in their jobs and relationships, qualities which seemed less secure in high relational mobility societies.

To investigate what may have caused the differences in relational mobility, researchers analyzed respondents' answers using several different metrics, including societal threats and subsistence style. Findings indicate that regions of the world that suffer less from man-made and natural threats (war, disease, natural disasters, etc.) have a higher relational mobility score than those that suffer from these threats more frequently. This is thought to be because disasters force people to become more co-dependent on others for survival. For the same reason, traditional herding cultures were seen to have a higher relative mobility than rice-cultivating cultures, as the former is a highly nomadic and individualistic activity and the latter an intensive collectivistic one, requiring close coordination between people.

"Some findings were unexpected, particularly in light of traditional cultural theories," says Hokkaido University Professor Masaki Yuki, the principal investigator of the project. "Data from Latin America was surprising. Latin American societies are typically said to be collectivistic in the social sciences, but a high level of relational mobility found in the data suggests that Latin American societies may be more individualistic than is traditionally thought. While this study may provide some insight, many more studies are needed to better understand how humans structure their society and interpersonal relationships, and how the society in turn shapes our thinking and behavior."

Hokkaido University

Related Relationships Articles:

Gorilla relationships limited in large groups
Mountain gorillas that live in oversized groups may have to limit the number of strong social relationships they form, new research suggests.
Electronic surveillance in couple relationships
Impaired intimacy, satisfaction, and infidelity in a romantic relationship can fuel Interpersonal Electronic Surveillance (IES).
'Feeling obligated' can impact relationships during social distancing
In a time where many are practicing 'social distancing' from the outside world, people are relying on their immediate social circles more than usual.
We can make predictions about relationships - but is this necessary?
'Predictions as to the longevity of a relationship are definitely possible,' says Dr Christine Finn from the University of Jena.
Disruptions of salesperson-customer relationships. Is that always bad?
Implications from sales relationship disruptions are intricate and can be revitalizing.
Do open relationships really work?
Open relationships typically describe couples in which the partners have agreed on sexual activity with someone other than their primary romantic partner, while maintaining the couple bond.
The 7 types of sugar daddy relationships
University of Colorado Denver researcher looks inside 48 sugar daddy relationships to better understand the different types of dynamics, break down the typical stereotype(s) and better understand how these relationships work in the United States.
Positive relationships boost self-esteem, and vice versa
Does having close friends boost your self-esteem, or does having high self-esteem influence the quality of your friendships?
Strong family relationships may help with asthma outcomes for children
Positive family relationships might help youth to maintain good asthma management behaviors even in the face of difficult neighborhood conditions, according to a new Northwestern University study.
In romantic relationships, people do indeed have a 'type'
Researchers at the University of Toronto show that people do indeed have a 'type' when it comes to dating, and that despite best intentions to date outside that type -- for example, after a bad relationship -- some will gravitate to similar partners.
More Relationships News and Relationships Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Warped Reality
False information on the internet makes it harder and harder to know what's true, and the consequences have been devastating. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around technology and deception. Guests include law professor Danielle Citron, journalist Andrew Marantz, and computer scientist Joy Buolamwini.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

How to Win Friends and Influence Baboons
Baboon troops. We all know they're hierarchical. There's the big brutish alpha male who rules with a hairy iron fist, and then there's everybody else. Which is what Meg Crofoot thought too, before she used GPS collars to track the movements of a troop of baboons for a whole month. What she and her team learned from this data gave them a whole new understanding of baboon troop dynamics, and, moment to moment, who really has the power.  This episode was reported and produced by Annie McEwen. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at