Washington: Did you ever wonder how much you care for your family or vice-versa? Across the globe, caring for loved ones is what matters most and this fact hasn't been the focus of many psychology studies. Scientists have come up with a study that suggests caring for the family is the reason behind the people feeling motivated worldwide.
An international team of researchers led by evolutionary and social psychologists from Arizona State University surveyed over 7,000 people from 27 different countries about what motivates them, and the findings go against 40 years of research. The study will be published in the journal -- Perspectives on Psychological Science.
Ahra Ko, an Arizona State University (ASU) psychology graduate student and first author of the paper, said: "People consistently rated kin care and mate retention as the most important motivations in their lives and we found this over and over, in all 27 countries that participated. The findings replicated in regions with collectivistic cultures such as Korea and China, and in regions with individualistic cultures like Europe and the US."
The study included people from diverse countries -- ranging from Australia and Bulgaria to Thailand and Uganda -- that covered all continents except Antarctica. The ASU team sent a survey about fundamental motivations to scientists in each of the participating countries. Then, the researchers in each country translated the questions into the native language and made edits so that all the questions were culturally appropriate.
For the past 40 years, evolutionary psychological research has focused on how people find romantic or sexual partners and how this desire affects other behaviours like consumer decisions. But study participants consistently rated this motivation, called mate-seeking, as the least important factor in their lives.
Evolutionary psychologists define kin care as caring for and supporting family members, and mate retention as maintaining long-term committed romantic or sexual relationships. These two motivations were the most important even in groups of people thought to prioritise finding new romantic and sexual partnerships like young adults and people not in committed relationships.
In all 27 countries, singles prioritized finding new partners more than people in committed relationships, and men ranked mate-seeking higher than women. But, the differences between these groups were small because of the overall priority given to kin care.
The motivations of mate-seeking and kin care of family and relations were also related to psychological well-being but in opposite ways. People who ranked mate-seeking as the most important were less satisfied with their lives and were more likely to be depressed or anxious. People who ranked kin care and long-term relationships as the most important rated their lives as more satisfying. "People might think they will be happy with numerous sexual partners, but really they are happiest taking care of the people they already have," Kenrick said.