Feeling good is linked to better health in Western contexts. Recent studies show, however, that the affect- health link is not consistent across cultures. We suggest two reasons for such inconsistency. The first follows from research showing that North American (vs. East Asian) cultures tend to value high arousal positive (HAP) states, for example, excited, more than low arousal positive (LAP) states, for example, calm. The second is one we propose for the first time. Positive affective experience is manifest in internal feelings but also in affective practices, such as taking a bath (a highly valued affective experience in Japan) or a fitness workout (a highly valued affective experience in the United States). We hypothesized that the HAP feelings/practices- health link would be stronger in the United States versus Japan, and the LAP feelings/practices- health link would be stronger in Japan versus the United States. Using survey samples from the United States (N = 640) and Japan (N = 382), we examined how health outcomes are shaped by positive affective feelings and practices varying in arousal. In a first set of analyses, HAP feelings predicted better physical and biological health in the United States but not in Japan. No cultural differences were consistently found for the effect of LAP feelings on health. In addition, engaging in HAP practices predicted better physical and biological health in the United States whereas engaging in LAP practices predicted better physical health in Japan but not in the United States. These findings suggest that the pathways underlying the culture- health link are culturally variable.
- Positive affect
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