J a p a n e s e    C u l t u r e

Modern and Traditional Japanese Culture: The Psychology of Buddhism, Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Manga, Anime and Shinto. 在日イギリス人男性による日本文化論.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014


Misery Matters Less in Japan: Or its okay to say "I am sad"

Misery is Okay in Japan

Despite attempts by pharmaceuticals companies to persuade the Japanese that when they feel sad they have a "cold of the heart," and should take antidepressants, there is still less of a link between negative effect (feeling sad) and both physical and mental well-being. In Japan it is okay to feel sad, and there is even an aesthetic of enjoying sadness in the form of loneliness and the fleeting nature of things-human.

The above graph shows the relationship between those that report negative affect and those that report negative physical conditions (the first two sets of data) and positive psychological conditions. As one can see, there is less of a positive direct correlation between feeling sad and being ill, and less of a negative inverse correlation between feeling sad and having low self-esteem or psychological well being.

It should also be noted that the whole research paradigm is based upon self reports and may not have a lot of meaning in reality. That people say they are happy, or have psychological well being only proves that they say they are happy, and say that they have psychological well being. In Japan it is okay to say that one is sad, blue or upset.

Image, reproduced without permission, from p3 of Curhan, K. B., Sims, T., Markus, H. R., Kitayama, S., Karasawa, M., Kawakami, N., ... & Ryff, C. D. (2014). Just How Bad Negative Affect Is for Your Health Depends on Culture. Psychological science, 0956797614543802. http://ift.tt/1vI7zML http://flic.kr/p/q4QUZk

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This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.