Feeling gloomy all the time or always cheerful? Your cultural context might be the reason

Experiencing positive emotions is not necessarily the key to good health and varies from culture to culture. While positive emotions are linked to better cardiovascular health in the US, it is not so in Japan.

fitness Updated: Sep 08, 2017 11:52 IST
Asian News International, Washington DC
Positive emotions,Health,Wellness
Your emotional and health outcomes may vary by cultural context.(Shutterstock)

Positive emotions are often seen as critical aspects of healthy living, but a new research suggests that your emotional and health outcomes may vary by cultural context. The findings showed that experiencing positive emotions is linked with better cardiovascular health in the US but not in Japan. Previous research suggested that positive thinking is important and people should train their brain to stay positive.

The results suggested that experiencing frequent positive emotions was associated with healthy lipid profiles for American participants, but there was no evidence of such a link for Japanese participants. “Our key finding is that positive emotions predict blood-lipid profiles differently across cultures,” said Jiah Yoo from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Madison, US.

“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,” Yoo added. The researchers stated that the findings underscore the importance of cultural context for understanding links between emotion and health, something that has been largely ignored in the literature.

“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,” Yoo stated.

The fact that positive emotions are conceived of and valued differently across cultures, Yoo along with his colleagues analysed the health benefits in tandem with positive emotions might be specific to Western populations.

“In American cultures, experiencing positive emotions is seen as desirable and is even encouraged via socialisation. But in East Asian cultures, people commonly view positive emotions as having dark sides — they are fleeting, may attract unnecessary attention from others, and can be a distraction from focusing on important tasks,” Yoo explained. The research appears in journal of Psychological Science.

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First Published: Sep 08, 2017 11:52 IST