College of Arts & Sciences

Date of Award

Spring 5-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Spencer K. Thompson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

James Olson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Crystale Marsh-McDonald, Ph.D.

Abstract

The present study examined the effect of person-level individualism and collectivism on attributional style and frequencies of positive and negative emotions as predictors of life satisfaction. Participants were 224 individuals (age range 18 to 78, M= 39.63, SD = 13.78; 73% women; 56% Filipinos) who answered an online survey. Results from regression analyses showed that attributional style is not a statistically significant predictor of life satisfaction. The analyses also showed that across all participants, and among those who did not score high in individualism and low in collectivism, the frequency of positive emotions, as compared to the frequency of negative emotions, is the stronger predictor of life satisfaction. Among participants who scored high in individualism and low in collectivism, results showed that the frequencies of positive and negative emotions are not statistically significant predictors of life satisfaction and that the strengths of the emotions’ standardized regression coefficients (.11 for positive & -.28 for negative) are in reverse order compared to those of participants who did not score high in individualism and low in collectivism (.37 for positive & -.27 for negative). Findings of the study suggest that the file hedonic approach of increasing positive experiences and decreasing negative experiences to improve overall well-being may not apply to everyone. Suggested strategies for counseling clients who are high in individualistic and low in collectivistic tendencies include incorporating existential therapy and exploring Ryff and Keyes’ (1995) six dimensions of wellness (autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations with others, purpose in life, & self-acceptance).

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