What constitutes a good life? Cultural differences in the role of positive and negative affect in subjective well-being


Citation:

Wirtz, D., Chiu, C., Diener, E., & Oishi, S. (2009). What constitutes a good life? Cultural differences in the role of positive and negative affect in subjective well-being. Journal of Personality, 77(4), 1167-1196.


Abstract:

East Asians and Asian Americans report lower levels of subjective well-being than Europeans and European Americans. Three studies found support for the hypothesis that such differences may be due to the psychological meanings Eastern and Western cultures attach to positive and negative affect. Study 1 demonstrated that the desire to repeat a recent vacation was significantly predicted by recalled positive affect—but not recalled negative affect—for European Americans, whereas Asian Americans considered both positive and negative affect. Study 2replicated this effect in judging satisfaction with a personal friendship. Study 3 linked changes in European Americans' life satisfaction to everyday positive events caused by the self (vs. others) and changes in Japanese life satisfaction to everyday negative events caused by others (vs. the self). Positive affect appears particularly meaningful for European Americans and negative affect for Asian Americans and Japanese when judging a satisfying vacation, friendship, or life.


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