Is valuing positive emotion associated with life satisfaction?

Brock Bastian, Peter Kuppens, Kim De Roover, Ed Diener

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The experience of positive emotion is closely linked to subjective well-being. For this reason, campaigns aimed at promoting the value of positive emotion have become widespread. What is rarely considered are the cultural implications of this focus on happiness. Promoting positive emotions as important for "the good life" not only has implications for how individuals value these emotional states, but for how they believe others around them value these emotions also. Drawing on data from over 9,000 college students across 47 countries we examined whether individuals' life satisfaction is associated with living in contexts in which positive emotions are socially valued. The findings show that people report more life satisfaction in countries where positive emotions are highly valued and this is linked to an increased frequency of positive emotional experiences in these contexts. They also reveal, however, that increased life satisfaction in countries that place a premium on positive emotion is less evident for people who tend to experience less valued emotional states: people who experience many negative emotions, do not flourish to the same extent in these contexts. The findings demonstrate how the cultural value placed on certain emotion states may shape the relationship between emotional experiences and subjective well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)639-645
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


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