People living in big cities with a large density of population are more likely to prefer long-term romantic relationships, have fewer children and invest more in education, suggesting that they value quality over quantity, researchers say.
The findings showed that urban citizens are more likely to adopt a ‘slow life strategy’, contrary to the popular notion that crowded places are chaotic and socially problematic.
“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,” said lead author Oliver Sng, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan.
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.
On the other hand, when the environment gets crowded, individuals have to compete vigorously with others for the available resources and territory, the researchers said.
“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,” added Steven Neuberg Professor at Arizona State University.
For the study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the team used data from nations around the world and the 50 US states.
In a series of experiments – for example, 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 behaviours.
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