Negative emotions more toxic in America

BRISBANE, Australia, March 26, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Nations highest in happiness have the highest rates of depression.  Shy American children are more likely to develop emotional problems than shy Chinese children. Those likely to experience more negative emotions tend to live shorter lives in America, but not in Japan. Selecting positive emotions and avoiding negative emotions, may weaken the ability to create robust meaning from life experience. Negative emotions are less likely to cancel out positive emotions in Japan, making the change from happiness to unhappiness, and back again, easier.  The opposite is likely to be true in America, where negative emotions cancel out the positive, making it easier to get stuck with negative emotions.  Feeling sad is more likely to become feeling bad in America than Japan. Happiness in America is a two edged sword. Those who are most likely to experience positive emotions in America fit in well. Those who are likely to experience more negative emotions may be at more risk of depression in America than many other nations. People living in East Asian nations are more likely to see failure as an opportunity to improve themselves. Those living in the West are more likely to experience failure as an assault on self esteem. Shame may be the beginning of integrity in Asia, but it is the path to therapy in the West.


At the same time Western Psychology is dispensing advice on how to maintain positivity, these research findings above, lying silently in respected journals but not mentioned in popular prescriptions for mental health, suggest that the pursuit of positive emotions is risky for many. What feels good may not be good as the national diet. The Fit Mind gives the reader easy access to the story of mental health psychology has ignored in favour of popular but misleading beliefs. 

Research across nations, despite our astonishment, finally revealed much we did not know about heart disease. Now research across nations shows us more about the nature of depression, illuminating the cost of one of the most confronting errors the science of psychology has made  - its assumption that Western minds can tell us all there is to know about emotions and mental health. Now we are beginning to see the consequences. Habits managing emotions vary across cultures. They are not all the same. They are not all like ours. They bring with them certain risks. And when it comes to depression, are Western habits the riskiest of all?

Media Contact:

June De Vaus, School of Psychology. University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia, 0408597658,

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SOURCE The Fit Mind



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