The role of positive and negative emotions in life satisfaction judgment across nations


Kuppens, P., Realo, A., & Diener, E. (2008). The role of positive and negative emotions in life satisfaction judgment across nations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(1), 66-75.


This study examined how the frequency of positive and negative emotions is related to life satisfaction across nations. Participants were 8,557 people from 46 countries who reported on their life satisfaction and frequency of positive and negative emotions. Multilevel analyses showed that across nations, the experience of positive emotions was more strongly related to life satisfaction than the absence of negative emotions. Yet, the cultural dimensions of individualism and survival/self-expression moderated these relationships. Negative emotional experiences were more negatively related to life satisfaction in individualistic than in collectivistic nations, and positive emotional experiences had a larger positive relationship with life satisfaction in nations that stress self-expression than in nations that value survival. These findings show how emotional aspects of the good life vary with national culture and how this depends on the values that characterize one's society. Although to some degree, positive and negative emotions might be universally viewed as desirable and undesirable, respectively, there appear to be clear cultural differences in how relevant such emotional experiences are to quality of life. 

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