Date of Award

2020

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Abstract

The present study investigated the influence of dialectical thinking on the ways in which people savor positive experiences across culture. Although both the concept of savoring (i.e., the capacity to attend to, appreciate, and regulate positive experience) and the concept of dialecticism (i.e., a prevalent Eastern philosophy that values the interconnectedness of all things, constant changes in life, and coexistence of contradictory phenomena) are essential topics in contemporary psychology, there is a lack of theory and research that links together these two concepts within a cross-cultural framework. Literature has shown that emotion is a product of culture and norms; East Asian cultures traditionally emphasize the €œmiddle way€ that balances positive and negative emotions and advocate dampening rather than amplifying of positive emotions, whereas Western cultures emphasize maximizing rather than minimizing positive emotions. in particular, researchers have found that dialecticism in Eastern cultures (a) influences emotion and emotion regulation, (b) promotes emotion complexity that tolerates the opposite valence of positive and negative emotions, and (c) embraces the co-occurrence of contradictory emotions. Because savoring has been studied primarily within the context of Western culture, it is important and potentially informative to understand Easterners' savoring responses to positive events, compared to Westerners', from a cross-cultural perspective in terms of dialectical perspectives. the present study developed a new conceptual model of dialectical beliefs as a mediator of the influence of culture on positive emotion regulations (i.e., savoring in terms of the amplifying and dampening of positive emotional experience) across Eastern and Western cultures, and analyzed data from samples of young adults in Korea and the United States to test a set of hypotheses based on this conceptual model. Confirming hypotheses, Koreans engaged in lower levels of both amplifying and dampening in response to positive life events than did Americans, and dialectical beliefs mediated the influence of Eastern versus Western culture on positive emotion regulation. Specifically, Koreans compared to Americans reported stronger dialectical beliefs, which were associated with lower levels of amplifying and higher levels of dampening; and the proportion of variance explained by the indirect effect of culture via dialectical beliefs was three times greater for amplifying (ΔR2 = .09) than for dampening (ΔR2 = .03). These results support the conclusion that dialectical thinking shapes cultural differences in the ways people regulate their positive emotions.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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