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Low Environmental Relational Mobility Promotes Existence of Enemies

Project Scheme:
Early Career Scheme
Project Year:
2018/2019
Project Leader:
Dr LI, Man Wai
(Department of Psychology)
Low Environmental Relational Mobility Promotes Existence of Enemies

The project aims to examine the influence of relational mobility, defined as the number of opportunities in the environment for people to freely form new social relationships and forgo undesired ones, on the existence of enemyship, a hostile relationship inducing intense negative emotions.

The project aims to examine the influence of relational mobility, defined as the number of opportunities in the environment for people to freely form new social relationships and forgo undesired ones, on the existence of enemyship, a hostile relationship inducing intense negative emotions. Social relationships are important to humans. Surprisingly though, in psychological research, personal enemyship, a hostile social relationship that occurs across cultures and has detrimental influences on the well-being of individuals, has not received as much attention as positive relationships. A few previous studies have suggested that low relational mobility may promote the existence of enemies as well as promoting harmony. However, no causal evidence is available. In addition, prior work has not differentiated whether low relational mobility promotes a stronger concept of enemyship or actually increases the existence of enemies in reality. Moreover, no research examines when low relational mobility might be more likely to promote the existence of enemies than promote harmony. Little is known about the underlying mechanism of how low relational mobility leads to the existence of enemies across time points. Finally, research into how to reduce the likelihood of the existence of enemies is rare, even though the existence of enemies is associated with intense negative emotions. This project proposes to overcome these limitations. We plan to adopt manipulation designs as well as a longitudinal design to obtain causal evidence for the influence of low relational mobility on the existence of enemyship and the underlying mechanism of high social embeddedness across time points. In addition, we will test how effectively enemyship is detected in low versus high relational mobility contexts. Finally, we will also explore whether reminders of the dangers of leaving conflicts unresolved will eliminate the negative impact of low relational mobility on the existence of enemies. These proposed studies should contribute to not only a better understanding of both the bright and dark sides of social relationships but also represent an advancement of the socio-ecological approach in psychological research. Furthermore, searching for a way to eliminate the negative impact of low relational mobility on social relationships may shed light on how to improve individual well-being.