Abstract

The world population has doubled over the last half century. Yet, research on the psychological effects of human population density, once a popular topic, has decreased over the past few decades. Applying a fresh perspective to an old topic, we draw upon life history theory to examine the effects of population density. Across nations and across the U.S. states (Studies 1 and 2), we find that dense populations exhibit behaviors corresponding to a slower life history strategy, including greater future-orientation, greater investment in education, more long-term mating orientation, later marriage age, lower fertility, and greater parental investment. In Studies 3 and 4, experimentally manipulating perceptions of high density led individuals to become more future-oriented. Finally, in Studies 5 and 6, experimentally manipulating perceptions of high density seemed to lead to life-stage-specific slower strategies, with college students preferring to invest in fewer rather than more relationship partners, and an older MTurk sample preferring to invest in fewer rather than more children. This research sheds new insight on the effects of density and its implications for human cultural variation and society at large. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 2 2017

Fingerprint

population density
Population Density
Marriage
Research
Population
future orientation
investment in education
Fertility
partner relationship
world population
Students
Psychology
Education
fertility
marriage
Life History Traits
student

Keywords

  • Behavioral ecology
  • Cross-cultural differences
  • Life history theory
  • Population density
  • Time orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

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title = "The crowded life is a slow life: Population density and life history strategy",
abstract = "The world population has doubled over the last half century. Yet, research on the psychological effects of human population density, once a popular topic, has decreased over the past few decades. Applying a fresh perspective to an old topic, we draw upon life history theory to examine the effects of population density. Across nations and across the U.S. states (Studies 1 and 2), we find that dense populations exhibit behaviors corresponding to a slower life history strategy, including greater future-orientation, greater investment in education, more long-term mating orientation, later marriage age, lower fertility, and greater parental investment. In Studies 3 and 4, experimentally manipulating perceptions of high density led individuals to become more future-oriented. Finally, in Studies 5 and 6, experimentally manipulating perceptions of high density seemed to lead to life-stage-specific slower strategies, with college students preferring to invest in fewer rather than more relationship partners, and an older MTurk sample preferring to invest in fewer rather than more children. This research sheds new insight on the effects of density and its implications for human cultural variation and society at large. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved).",
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author = "Oliver Sng and Steven Neuberg and Michael Varnum and Douglas Kenrick",
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N2 - The world population has doubled over the last half century. Yet, research on the psychological effects of human population density, once a popular topic, has decreased over the past few decades. Applying a fresh perspective to an old topic, we draw upon life history theory to examine the effects of population density. Across nations and across the U.S. states (Studies 1 and 2), we find that dense populations exhibit behaviors corresponding to a slower life history strategy, including greater future-orientation, greater investment in education, more long-term mating orientation, later marriage age, lower fertility, and greater parental investment. In Studies 3 and 4, experimentally manipulating perceptions of high density led individuals to become more future-oriented. Finally, in Studies 5 and 6, experimentally manipulating perceptions of high density seemed to lead to life-stage-specific slower strategies, with college students preferring to invest in fewer rather than more relationship partners, and an older MTurk sample preferring to invest in fewer rather than more children. This research sheds new insight on the effects of density and its implications for human cultural variation and society at large. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved).

AB - The world population has doubled over the last half century. Yet, research on the psychological effects of human population density, once a popular topic, has decreased over the past few decades. Applying a fresh perspective to an old topic, we draw upon life history theory to examine the effects of population density. Across nations and across the U.S. states (Studies 1 and 2), we find that dense populations exhibit behaviors corresponding to a slower life history strategy, including greater future-orientation, greater investment in education, more long-term mating orientation, later marriage age, lower fertility, and greater parental investment. In Studies 3 and 4, experimentally manipulating perceptions of high density led individuals to become more future-oriented. Finally, in Studies 5 and 6, experimentally manipulating perceptions of high density seemed to lead to life-stage-specific slower strategies, with college students preferring to invest in fewer rather than more relationship partners, and an older MTurk sample preferring to invest in fewer rather than more children. This research sheds new insight on the effects of density and its implications for human cultural variation and society at large. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved).

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