The Crowded Life Is a Slow Life: Population Density and Life History Strategy

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid

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.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles