Saturday, June 25, 2011

Another Side to Positive Psychology?

A negative side to positive psychology? Could it be? Methinks so. Although a great believer in the power of positivity, (emotionally & mentally), I have always questioned positive psychology as a blanket approach – it doesn’t quite embrace the whole human experience and, I have found, can often cause both frustration and resentment. Imagine then my appreciation when I read not just one, but two recent studies showing a revised perspective!
One study (at the University of Washington) addressed one of my favourite topics: culture. Emotions have a different meaning for people from different cultures, as for example in Asian cultures where a balance of positive and negative emotions is aspired to, (rather than in our Western cultures where we desire a maximum of positive emotions). This particular study compared stress levels, symptoms of depression, and the emotional experiences of Asians, Asian-Americans and European Americans. The findings? That more positive emotions were linked to less symptoms of depression for the two American groups, but NOT for Asians.
The other study (at the University of Warwick, UK & published in the 'Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization') looked at how other people's happiness affects us. The data showed that in countries where the well-being was recorded as higher levels than average, the suicide rate was also higher. The researchers concluded that “Discontented people in happy places may feel harshly treated by life. Those dark contrasts may in turn increase the risk of suicide.”
Wow! There’s some food for thought and discussion!!! Winking smile

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