Residential Mobility Decreases the Perception of Social Norm Violations

  • Siyang LuoEmail author
  • Qianting Kong
  • Zijun Ke
  • Liqin Huang
  • Meihua Yu
  • Yiyi Zhu
  • Ying Xu
Original Research


Social norms are essential but vary across human societies. With the internationalization of human society, the population’s mobility has greatly increased, which can impact people’s psychological states and behaviors. The current research aimed to examine the hypothesis that residential mobility plays a crucial role in the perception of social norm violations with six studies. Studies 1 and 2 used an association test and experimental manipulation, respectively, and found that residential mobility was associated with a decreased perception of weak social norm violations in females. Study 3 further suggested that residential mobility modulates individuals’ perception threshold to social norm violation behavior. Studies 4 and 5 revealed that the relationship between residential mobility and perception of social norm violations is mediated by face threats, and a mini meta-analysis further confirmed the significant effect of residential mobility on the perception of social norm violations. Our findings provide insights into how and why individuals’ perceptions of social norm-violating behaviors vary according to the dynamic development of society. As residential mobility continues to increase worldwide, especially in developing countries, we may observe concomitant changes in the subjective perception of social norms that should be given more attention during social governance.


Residential mobility Social norm violations Face threatening 



This work was supported by grants from the Science Foundation of Ministry of Education of China (Project 17YJCZH121) and the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (Project 2017A030310553) and the Natural Science Foundation of China (Project 31800916).

Author Contributions

KQT and LSY designed the research; KQT, ZYY, XY conducted the experiment; KQT, KZJ and LSY analyzed the data; and KQT, YMH, HLQ, LSY and KZJ wrote the manuscript. All authors commented on the manuscript.

Compliance With Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Ethics Statement

All participants gave written informed consent, and the study was approved by the Department of Psychology of Sun Yat-sen University Ethics Committee.

Code Availability

The custom computer code and questionnaire that was used in the main analysis of this study is available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Data Availability

The deidentified data that support the main findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Supplementary material

11205_2019_2224_MOESM1_ESM.docx (439 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 439 kb)


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Social Cognitive Neuroscience and Mental Health, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Brain Function and DiseaseSun Yat-Sen UniversityGuangzhouChina

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