Residential Mobility, Helping, and Pro-Community Action

Study by:
Shigehiro Oishi - University of Virginia
Alexander J. Rothman - University of Minnesota
Mark Snyder - University of Minnesota
In this program of research, we examine the role of mobility and stability ofcommunities in determining helping behavior and pro-community action. Based on a theoretical analysis of the role of mobility and stability in promoting individual and socialidentity, and the consequences of these differences in identity for pro-social behaviorsand for pro-community action, we propose that, in communities and societiescharacterized by high stability and low rates of mobility, helping and pro-communityaction will be more prevalent than in communities and societies characterized by lowstability and high rates of mobility. 
In our empirical research, we have examined the role of residential mobility in avariety of contexts. Thus, in one study, we found that residents of stable communities inthe Minneapolis/St Paul metropolitan areas purchased the "critical habitat" license plateto support preservation of nature in Minnesota more often than did residents of mobilecommunities. In another study, we found that in relatively mobile cities attendance atbaseball games depended on the team's record, whereas in relatively stable citiesattendance at baseball games was unrelated to the team's record (indicating conditionalcommunity support for the former and unconditional community support for the latter). And, in yet another study, we experimentally manipulated the stability of new "microcommunities" in the laboratory and found that individuals in stable "communities" helped other members in need more often than those in unstable "communities."Moreover, the effect of stability was mediated by identification with the "community." 
Together, our series of studies show that residential stability leads to a strongeridentification with community, which in turn leads to more pro-community behaviors andunconditional community support. In future research, we plan to examine issues relatedto residential mobility and technological innovation; the optimal level of residentialstability/mobility for the well-being of communities; tradeoffs in identification with alocal vs. global community; historical changes in residential stability and pro-communitybehaviors, and cross-cultural aspects of pro-community behavior. 
The principal investigators in this program of research are Shigehiro Oishi of the University of Virginia, Alexander Rothman of the University of Minnesota, and Mark Snyder of the University of Minnesota.