Positive Affect, Social Connectedness and Health in Japan


Positive Affect, Social Connectedness and Health in Japan
Positive Affect, Social Connectedness and Health in Japan
Jiah Yoo, Yuri Miyamoto & Carol Ryff
The present study tested the interplay of positive affect,
and social connectedness in predicting health of Japanese
using a national probability sample. Measures of health
included HDL (high-density lipid), and DHEAS (Dehydroepian
drosterone-sulfate).The results showed that positive affect
interacted with social connectedness to predict HDL and
DHEAS, such that for those with low social connectedness,
Greater positive affect was related to lower HDL and DHEAS
Previous studies have shown that positive affect has
numerous health benefits in Western Cultures (Pressman &
Cohen, 2005, Steptoe, Wardle, & Marmot, 2005). However,
cross-cultural studies offer a more nuanced perspective
following from the idea that positive affect varies with cultural
scripts and norms (Kitayama, Markus, & Kurokawa, 2000). As
such, it is unclear whether the positive affect is equally
beneficial for health across different cultural contexts.
Particularly, in East Asian culture where relationship
maintaining aspects of emotions are highlighted, positive
affect experienced in isolation from social relationships may
not be beneficial or even harmful for one’s health. (Miyamoto,
Uchida, & Ellsworth, 2010; Uchida & Kitayama, 2009). The
present study tested whether social connectedness would
work interactively with PA in predicting health outcomes in
Japan. Health outcomes were assessed by self-rated health
questionnaire and two biomarkers that represent healthy
functioning of body: HDL and DHEAS. For people with high
social connectedness, PA was expected to contribute to
higher self-rated health scores as well as higher levels of HDL
Contact: Jiah Yoo ([email protected])
DHEAS, whereas these associations were predicted to be
absent or the opposite for people with low social
A national survey of well-being and health, the Midlife in Japan
(MIDJA), was conducted in 2008 with participants randomly
selected from the Tokyo metropolitan area. They completed a
self-administered questionnaire. A subset of the sample was
recruited to participate in biological data collection (N = 382;
168 males, 214 females; M = 54.24 years).
Results (Con’t) & Discussion
Method (Con’t)
3. Dependent variables
a. HDL
4. Control variables : age, gender, years of education, Body
Mass Index, alcohol consumption, smoking, and negative
1. Positive affect
Q. During the past 30 days, how much of the time did you
feel ______?
- 6 items: cheerful, in good spirits, extremely happy, calm
and peaceful, satisfied, and full of life.
2. Social connectedness
a. Agreeableness
- 5 items: helpful, warm, caring, softhearted, and
b. Support from friends
- 4 items modified from Schuster, Kessler, and Aseltine
c. Positive relations with others
- 7 items from a subscale of positive well-being measure
(Ryff, 1989).
d. Interdependence
- 10-item version of Singelis scale (Singelis, 1994).
b=-.144, p=.02
b..-.024, p=.03
As predicted, there was a significant interaction between PA
and social support from friends on HDL, b= .028, t(336)= 2.322,
p= .021, and a marginally significant interaction between PA and
positive relations with others on HDL, b= .002, t(337)= 1.659,
p= .098. As simple effects tests were shown in Figure 1, increase in
PA was negatively associated with HDL levels among people low on
social support from friends, but not among people high on social
support from friends (p= .421). For DHEAS, PA showed interaction
effects with interdependence and agreeableness, b=.149, t(336)=
2.479, p=.014, and b=.131, t(336)=2.347, p=.020 respectively. The
pattern of the simple effects on DHEAS was in line with the simple
effects on HDL. PA was significantly associated with DHEAS in a
negative direction among people with low on social connectedness
measures (Figure 2).
Focus on the cultural meanings of social connectedness and PA,
the present studies found that the PA and social connectedness
interacted on the level of HDL and DHEAS. The increase in PA
was negatively associated with healthy levels of HDL and DHEAS
for Japanese people of whom high PA potentially conflicts with
their culturally sanctioned task, maintaining social harmony. This
has substantial implications to people’s health in other cultures that
have different norms from the U.S where maintaining positive
feelings is a predominant cultural task.
Figure 1 (left). Support from friends moderates the relationship between PA and HDL.
Figure 2 (right). Agreeableness moderates the relationship between PA and DHEAS.
Low is one standard deviation below the mean, high is standard deviation above the mean.
* Slope of line significantly different from zero (p < .05).
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