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Are Positive Emotions Just as “Positive” Across Cultures?

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Are Positive Emotions Just as “Positive” Across Cultures?

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  • Feb. 24, 2013
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Are Positive Emotions Just as “Positive” Across Cultures?

This research was conducted with the assumption that the positive emotions may be more protective factor in the mental health of European Americans than they are in Asians. The researchers investigated the correlation between positive emotions and depression symptom frequency and between negative emotions and depression symptom frequency. They also compared United States (US)-born Asian American participants with European Americans and foreign-born immigrant Asians to find about the role of acculturation and to demonstrate cultural differences in the role of positive emotions in depression. In regards to the methods of the study, the researchers selected 633 college students from a public university in the US, of which 330 were European Americans who were at least third generation, 156 immigrant Asians who, on average, came to US at the age of 11 years old, and 147 Asian Americans who were born in the US to immigrant parents. All of the participants completed an hour-long computer survey which measured perceived stress, emotions, frequency of depression symptoms, and demographics. For independent variables, they used the Perceived Stress Scale and the Positive and Negative Emotions Schedule-X (PANAS-X). For dependent variables, they used the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) which measured subclinical depression symptoms.

The results showed that immigrant Asians and Asian Americans reported more frequent depression symptoms than European Americans. While the intensity of negative emotion and depression were positively correlated for all groups, the intensity of positive emotion and depression symptoms were negatively correlated among European Americans and Asian Americans, but not among immigrant Asians. Also, dialectical relationship between positive and negative emotions was found among immigrant Asians but not Asian Americans. Regarding the role of culture, it was...