Growing up in urban areas represents a possible risk factor in the genesis of psychopathologies. The aim of the present study was to investigate the link between urbanicity variables and indicators for psychiatric disorders. We investigated a potential association between primary emotional traits and urbanicity variables in 324 individuals from Germany and 713 individuals from China. Higher scores in the urbanicity index in childhood were inversely associated with FEAR and SADNESS only in adult Chinese females. These effects seemed to be driven by living in Chinese mega-cities, because a parallel sample from Germany and China (contrasting upbringing in cities with the categories <10,000 inhabitants, ≥10,000 inhabitants (but <100,000), and ≥100,000 inhabitants) resulted in weaker, but more similar effects in females in both countries. Additional associations could be observed with higher PLAY and urban upbringing in Chinese males. The results seem surprising, given an expectation of adverse emotional effects from growing up in todays’ mega-cities compared to rural areas. Although we do not want to over-interpret our findings (given rather small correlations and multiple testing issues), they should encourage researchers to consider including urbanicity variables in personality neuroscience and personality oriented clinical psychiatric research.
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