Family MattersRethinking the Psychology of Human Social Motivation

Authors Organisations
  • Ahra Ko(Author)
    Arizona State University
  • Cari M. Pick(Author)
    Arizona State University
  • Jung Yul Kwon(Author)
    Arizona State University
  • Michael Barlev(Author)
    Arizona State University
  • Jaimie Arona Krems(Author)
    Oklahoma State University - Stillwater
  • Michael E. W. Varnum(Author)
    Arizona State University
  • Rebecca Neel(Author)
    University of Toronto
  • Mark Peysha(Author)
    The Coaching Institute
  • Watcharaporn Boonyasiriwat(Author)
    Chulalongkorn University
  • Eduard Brandstätter(Author)
    Johannes Kepler University Linz
  • Julio Eduardo Cruz Vasquez(Author)
    Universidad de los Andes
  • Oscar Galindo(Author)
    Universidad de los Andes
  • Daniel David(Author)
    Babeș-Bolyai University
  • Renata Pereira de Felipe(Author)
    Instituto de Psicologia at Universidade de São Paulo
  • Ana Crispim(Author)
    Instituto de Psicologia at Universidade de São Paulo
  • Velichko Fetvadjiev(Author)
    Victoria University of Wellington
  • Ronald Fischer(Author)
    Victoria University of Wellington
  • Johannes Karl(Author)
    Instituto D’Or de Pesquisa e Ensino, Rio de Janeiro
  • Silvia Galdi(Author)
    University of Campania Luigi Vanvitel
  • Luis Gomez-Jacinto(Author)
    University of Málaga
  • Igor Grossmann(Author)
    University of Waterloo
  • Pelin Gul(Author)
    University of Iowa
  • Takeshi Hamamura(Author)
    Curtin University
  • Shihui Han(Author)
    Peking University
  • Hidefumi Hitokoto(Author)
    Kyoto University
  • Martina Hřebíčková(Author)
    Czech Academy of Sciences
  • Sylvie Graf(Author)
    Czech Academy of Sciences
  • Jennifer Lee Johnson(Author)
    Purdue University
  • Oksana Malanchuk(Author)
    University of Michigan
  • Asuka Murata(Author)
    Hokkaido University
  • Jinkyung Na(Author)
    Sogang University
  • Jiaqing O(Author)
  • Muhammed Rizwan(Author)
    The Delve Pvt Ltd, Islamabad
  • Eric Roth(Author)
    Universidad Católica Boliviana
  • Sergio Antonio Salgado Salgado(Author)
    Universidad de La Frontera
  • A. Timur Sevincer(Author)
    University of Hamburg
  • Adrian Stanciu(Author)
    Vechta University
  • Eunkook M. Suh(Author)
    Yonsei University
  • Thomas Talhelm(Author)
    University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Ayse Uskul(Author)
    University of Kent
  • Irem Uz(Author)
    TOBB University of Economics and Technology
  • Danilo Zambrano(Author)
    Fundación Universitaria Konrad Lorenz
  • Douglas Kenrick(Author)
    Arizona State University
  • Oana A. David(Author)
    Babeș-Bolyai University
  • Galina Golovina(Author)
    Russian Academy of Sciences
  • Elena Samoylenko(Author)
    Russian Academy of Sciences
  • Tatyana Savchenko(Author)
    Russian Academy of Sciences
Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-201
Number of pages29
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Issue number1
Early online date03 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2020
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What motives do people prioritize in their social lives? Historically, social psychologists, especially those adopting an evolutionary perspective, have devoted a great deal of research attention to sexual attraction and romantic-partner choice (mate seeking). Research on long-term familial bonds (mate retention and kin care) has been less thoroughly connected to relevant comparative and evolutionary work on other species, and in the case of kin care, these bonds have been less well researched. Examining varied sources of data from 27 societies around the world, we found that people generally view familial motives as primary in importance and mate-seeking motives as relatively low in importance. Compared with other groups, college students, single people, and men place relatively higher emphasis on mate seeking, but even those samples rated kin-care motives as more important. Furthermore, motives linked to long-term familial bonds are positively associated with psychological well-being, but mate-seeking motives are associated with anxiety and depression. We address theoretical and empirical reasons why there has been extensive research on mate seeking and why people prioritize goals related to long-term familial bonds over mating goals. Reallocating relatively greater research effort toward long-term familial relationships would likely yield many interesting new findings relevant to everyday people’s highest social priorities.


  • evolutionary psychology, family, goals, interpersonal relations, motivation, reward