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Environment, culture, age, and sex influence personal boundaries

Personal sovereignty describes the well defined and respected boundaries that we develop throughout our lives. Now, a new study shows that these boundaries are strongly influenced by different demographic factors like age and environment.

Throughout our busy lives, personal boundaries play an important role in how we interact with those around us and protect our belongings, personal space, values and even our own bodies from others.

Someone with well-defined boundaries is thought to be a sovereign individual while someone with poor boundaries is deprived.  

Sovereignty is shaped from a young age, and family members who respect a child’s growing personal boundaries help strengthen levels of personal sovereignty.

Studies have shown that someone with a strong sense of personal sovereignty is more likely to have higher self-esteem and confidence.

Researchers from the National Research University’s Higher School of Economics in Moscow, the State University of Yerevan in Armenia, and Xiamen University in China set out to better understand how environment, culture, society, and age influence personal sovereignty and how psychological boundaries differ across countries.

The researchers detailed their findings in a new study published in the journal Psychology in Russia.

For the study, the researchers surveyed 780 people from Armenia, China, and Russia, chosen specifically because each country has different priorities in terms of values but all of which have a history of socialism.

The study participants belonged to two age groups, adolescents and young adults aged 21. The researchers had the participants answer a questionnaire that determined an individual’s personal sovereignty.

Surprisingly, the team found that culture and a person’s environment have less influence on personal sovereignty levels than previously thought. But comparatively speaking, definitions of personal sovereignty differed depending on where the participants were raised.

The participants from China had strong boundaries in regards to their tastes and values, Russians defended their personal boundaries, and people from Armenia were the least concerned of all the participants about protecting or defending their belongings.

Adolescents had lower levels of personal sovereignty compared to the participants aged 21 and gender didn’t seem to play a major role in sovereignty differences.

The researchers discovered that while sovereignty increases with age among Russian and Chinese individuals, this was not the case in Armenia.

Scores were lowest among Female Chinese adolescents and Armenian women but highest among Russian and Chinese women.

“Contrary to our prediction, the sovereignty level did not differ among the three cultures,” the researchers conclude in their study. “This impressive result confirms the evolutional and adaptive function of the sovereignty trait in everyday lives. It is no surprise that all cultures need and support its development; however, the sovereignty patterns and dynamics differed widely.”

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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