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Caring for Family Matters Most to People Around the Globe

HealthDay News
by -- Robert Preidt
Updated: Dec 4th 2019

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WEDNESDAY, Dec. 4, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- It may come as no surprise to some, but new research shows that taking care of family and keeping a mate are the most important things for folks worldwide.

Researchers surveyed more than 7,000 people in 27 countries about what motivates them. The study included people from a wide range of countries -- Australia and Bulgaria to Thailand and Uganda -- on all continents except Antarctica.

"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," said study author Ahra Ko, a psychology graduate student at Arizona State University.

"The findings replicated in regions with collectivistic cultures, such as Korea and China, and in regions with individualistic cultures like Europe and the U.S.," Ko added in a university news release.

Kin care is defined as caring for and supporting family members, and mate retention as maintaining long-term committed romantic or sexual relationships.

Previous research has focused on attraction and mate-seeking, but Ko and her colleagues found that in this study, seeking romantic partners was rated the least important factor in participants' lives.

This was true even in groups of people widely believed to be more interested in new romantic and sexual relationships -- such as young adults and people not in committed relationships.

"The focus on mate-seeking in evolutionary psychology is understandable, given the importance of reproduction. Another reason for the overemphasis on initial attraction is that college students have historically been the majority of participants," said study second author Cari Pick, a psychology graduate student at Arizona State.

The study was published Dec. 3 in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.

"Studying attraction is easy and sexy, but people's everyday interests are actually more focused on something more wholesome -- family values," said study senior author Douglas Kenrick, professor of psychology at Arizona State.

"Everybody cares about their family and loved ones the most, which, surprisingly, hasn't been as carefully studied as a motivator of human behavior," Kenrick added.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on social ties.