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Research has shown that self-compassion can improve individual well-being in many cultures; however, little research has examined cultural differences regarding compassion for others and individual well-being. Cross-cultural research has indicated that interdependent happiness and taijin kyofusho (TKS) (other-focused social anxiety) are aspects of well-being and psychopathology, respectively, related to interdependent (i.e., collectivistic) cultures such as Japan. First, we hypothesized that self-compassion would foster greater positive affect and satisfaction with life and less negative affect and social anxiety in the USA than in Japan. Our second hypothesis was that compassion for others would be associated with greater interdependent happiness, and with less TKS symptoms, in Japan compared with the USA. Through a web-based survey of Japanese and American adults, we found that self-compassion was related to positive and negative affect, social anxiety disorder and TKS symptoms, and well-being in both countries. Compassion for others was found to be associated with increased positive affect and decreased TKS symptoms across both cultures. Simple slope tests revealed that self-compassion had a stronger relation with positive affect among US adults than their Japanese counterparts, whereas compassion for others was related to interdependent happiness only in Japan. These findings suggest that the link between compassion, well-being, and psychopathology might be universal, although the effects of the two types of compassion have different patterns between the two cultures.
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- Differences in Compassion, Well-being, and Social Anxiety Between Japan and the USA
Stefan G. Hofmann
- Springer US