27 Apr Happiness, positive emotions and optimism…interesting research into cultural differences
Happiness may not be the same for everyone! New research reveals that happiness and positive emotions may be experienced differently by different cultures and that as such, interventsions and therapies may well need to be tailored…
Thinking happy thoughts, focusing on the good and downplaying the bad is believed to accelerate recovery from depression, bolster resilience during a crisis and improve overall mental health. But a new study by University of Washington psychologists reveals that pursuing happiness may not be beneficial across all cultures.
In a survey of college students, Asian respondents showed no relationship between positive emotions and levels of stress and depression. For European-American participants, however, the more stress and depression they felt, the fewer positive emotions they reported.
The study indicates that psychotherapies emphasizing positive emotions, which can relieve stress and depression in white populations, may not work for Asians, who make up 60 percent of the world population.
The findings have implications for helping the Japanese recover from natural disasters and subsequent nuclear crisis in March, and for Chinese coping with post-traumatic stress following the 2008 Sichuan province earthquake.
“If we are to relieve some of the trauma from the tsunami and earthquakes, we have to be careful of imparting Western therapies,” said Janxin Leu, UW assistant professor of psychology. “I worry that if a therapy which relies on positive emotions and thinking is used with Asian patients, it will not be effective and may even make patients feel worse.”
Mindfulness therapies that encourage patients to pay attention to the good and the bad will likely work better, she said.
Co-authors of the paper are Jennifer Wang and Kelly Koo, both UW psychology graduate students. The journal Emotion published the study online March 28…
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