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Culture and savoring of positive experiences Lindberg, Tracy L.

Abstract

Savoring is the process by which people enhance, intensify, or prolong their affective reactions to positive events (Bryant, 1989). Drawing on recent research regarding cultural variation in affective norms and experience, I examined savoring and related constructs in Japanese, Asian North American and European North American respondents. As defined in previous research with American samples, the construct of savoring was found to generalize to East Asian samples, with equivalent factor structure and similar relations on measures of convergent and discriminant validity. As predicted, East Asian respondents endorsed lower capacity for anticipating, savoring in the moment and reminiscing. Mediation analyses suggested that attitudes regarding the importance of enhancing positive feelings and beliefs about change played a role in mediating the relation between culture and savoring, but self-construal did not. In self-nominated positive events, East Asian individuals included more interpersonal and achievement events and made reference to positive events from the distant past or anticipated future in addition to current events. In contrast, European North Americans nominated more leisure events, and were temporally oriented to the present and recent past. Predictions with respect to cultural differences in savoring strategies were generally supported, with European North Americans endorsing more Self-Congratulation, Behavioral Expression and Sensory Perceptual Sharpening both in self-nominations and ratings on the Ways of Savoring Checklist (WOSC). Although the majority of strategies nominated across cultures were captured by the WOSC strategies of Sharing and Memory Building, several novel savoring strategies were reported by East Asian respondents, including Making Greater Effort and Continuing Connection with Others Involved. These results are generally consistent with other research finding both elements of universality and cultural variation in the experience of positive feelings.

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