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Positive EmotionIntegrating the Light Sides and Dark Sides$
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June Gruber and Judith Tedlie Moskowitz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199926725

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199926725.001.0001

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The Cultural Shaping of Happiness

The Cultural Shaping of Happiness

The Role of Ideal Affect

Chapter:
(p.345) Chapter 19 The Cultural Shaping of Happiness
Source:
Positive Emotion
Author(s):

Jeanne Tsai

Bokyung Park

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199926725.003.0019

Although research suggests that of all emotions, happiness is the most similar across cultures, we propose that cultural differences in happiness have been largely overlooked because these studies typically selected their samples based on convenience or exposure to American culture (versus specific cultural ideas and practices), compared happiness with other negative states (versus different positive states), and focused on “actual affect,” or how people actually feel (versus ideal affect, or how people ideally want to feel). We then review our work on cultural differences in ideal affect, which addresses these limitations, and demonstrates that American contexts value excitement and other high-arousal positive states more and calm and other low-arousal positive states less than Chinese contexts. We discuss the implications these cultural differences in ideal affect have for the study of happiness and other positive emotions and argue that in order to understand people’s positive emotions, one has to consider their culturally shaped ideal affect.

Keywords:   culture, happiness, ideal, positive, affect, emotion

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