From: Association for Psychological Science
Published September 7, 2017 12:05 PM

Link Between Positive Emotions and Health Depends on Culture

Positive emotions are often seen as critical aspects of healthy living, but new researchsuggests that the link between emotion and health outcomes may vary by cultural context. The findings, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, show that experiencing positive emotions is linked with better cardiovascular health in the US but not in Japan.

“Our key finding is that positive emotions predict blood-lipid profiles differently across cultures,” says psychological scientist Jiah Yoo of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “American adults who experience high levels of positive emotions, such as feeling ‘cheerful’ and ‘extremely happy’, are more likely to have healthy blood-lipid profiles, even after accounting for other factors such as age, gender, socioeconomic status, and chronic conditions. However, this was not true for Japanese adults.”

“Our findings underscore the importance of cultural context for understanding links between emotion and health, something that has been largely ignored in the literature,” Yoo adds. “Although some studies have examined cultural differences in links between positive emotions and healthy functioning, this work is novel in that it includes biological measures of health and large representative samples from both countries.”

The fact that positive emotions are conceived of and valued differently across cultures led Yoo and colleagues to wonder whether the health benefits observed in tandem with positive emotions might be specific to Western populations.

Read more at Association for Psychological Science

Photo credit: Alex Proimos via Wikimedia Commons

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