In Stress and Health

Does “happy” equal “healthy”?

Feeling happy is linked to good physical health among Americans but not among Japanese, finds a study in Psychological Science. Researchers analyzed data from almost 1,400 participants in two studies of midlife adults, one in the United States and one in Japan. Participants recorded how often they felt 10 different positive emotions over one month. Feeling frequent positive emotions was associated with healthy blood lipid levels known to be strongly predictive of risk for cardiovascular disease among American participants but not Japanese participants. This could be because Americans place more emphasis on personal happiness, the researchers say, and it suggests that the relationship between emotions and physical health is mediated by cultural factors. This study highlights the role of culture in the link between positive emotions and key biological risk factors of cardiovascular disease.

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