Americans move a lot. That’s been the case historically, going back to the early expansion westward, and it remains the case in modern times. Fifty years ago the one-year mobility rate for Americans was more than 20 percent — twice that of the British, and nearly three times that of the Japanese. The trend may be declining, but recent census figures still suggest that at least two in five Americans move within a five-year period.
What effect this movement has on social behavior is an ongoing question for University of Virginia psychologist Shigehiro Oishi. In the past few years, Oishi (with the help of research collaborators) has found that frequent moving has a more negative impact on introverts than extraverts, and that it influences the type of people we prefer to befriend, and that it might play a role in America’s fondness for strip malls. He’s called the study of residential mobility “a key to understanding the future of mind and behavior in the increasingly mobile world.”
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