Relational Mobility Predicts Social Behaviors in 39 Countries and Is Tied to Historical Farming and Threat
101 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2021
Date Written: May 21, 2018
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) versus 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 pro-active 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: Relational mobility, subsistence style, ecological threats, culture, rice farming, rice agriculture
JEL Classification: Z1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation