Kuppens_et_al_2008 - Journal of Personality and Social...

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The Role of Positive and Negative Emotions in Life Satisfaction Judgment Across Nations Peter Kuppens Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Anu Realo University of Tartu Ed Diener University of Illinois at Urbana—Champaign 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 counties 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. Keywords: satisfaction with life, positive emotions, negative emotions, national culture In 1902, more than a century ago, William James observed, “How to gain, how to keep, how to recover happiness, is in fact for most men at all times the secret motive of all they do and of all they are willing to endure” (James, 1902/1999, p. 90). Although the pursuit of happiness is one of the eternal human quests, psychologists are only now starting to comprehend what makes people happy. Research in the past 20 years has made considerable progress in identifying the factors that influence people’s subjec- tive well-being (SWB) or happiness. Researchers distinguish between two components of SWB: a global cognitive evaluation of the satisfaction with one’s life as a refers to positive and negative emotionality (Bradburn, 1969; components of SWB have been found to be interrelated, they are not identical (Diener, 1994). For instance, Lucas and colleagues (1996) demonstrated that life satisfaction was discriminable from both positive and negative affect. Yet, as argued by Diener, Oishi, and Lucas (2003), many researchers have measured only a single aspect of SWB (such as life satisfaction), and therefore the inter- relation between the cognitive and affective components of SWB is not well understood, especially at the cultural level (see also how it may vary across nations is important, as it can reveal what
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Kuppens_et_al_2008 - Journal of Personality and Social...

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