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February 14, 2017

Colorful balconies of a high-rise apartment complexBig cities are generally associated with fast-paced life, but an ASU study shows that one psychological effect of population density is the adoption of a “slow life strategy.”

The ASU team – including sustainability scientists Steven Neuberg and Douglas Kenrick – collected data from all 50 states and nations around the world. Then, through a series of experiments, they found that perceptions of crowdedness cause people to delay gratification in favor of slower behaviors. These included long-term romantic relationships, having fewer children and investing more in education.

“With the world’s population growing,” Neuberg says, “it seems more important than ever to understand the psychological effects of overcrowding and how living in crowded environments might influence people’s behaviors. Applying a new perspective to an old question is allowing us to reexamine the effects of living in crowded environments.”

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