Depression and Emotional Reactivity: Variation among Asian Americans of East Asian Descent and European Americans
depression, culture, East Asians, emotional reactivity, facial expression, European Americans
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Studies of Western samples (e.g., European Americans [EAs]) suggest that depressed individuals tend to show diminished emotional reactivity (J. G. Gehricke & A. J. Fridlund, 2002; G. E. Schwartz, P. L. Fair, P. Salt, M. R. Mandel, & G. L. Klerman, 1976a, 1976b). Do these findings generalize to individuals oriented to other cultures (e.g., East Asian cultures)? The authors compared the emotional reactions (i.e., reports of emotional experience, facial behavior, and physiological reactivity) of depressed and nondepressed EAs and Asian Americans of East Asian descent (AAs) to sad and amusing films. Their results were consistent with previous findings: Depressed EAs showed a pattern of diminished reactivity to the sad film (less crying, less intense reports of sadness) compared with nondepressed participants. In contrast, depressed AAs showed a pattern of heightened emotional reactivity (greater crying) compared with nondepressed participants. Across cultural groups, depressed and nondepressed participants did not differ in their reports of amusement or facial behavior during the amusing film. Physiological reactivity to the film clips did not differ between depressed and control participants for either cultural group. Thus, although depression may influence particular aspects of emotional reactivity across cultures (e.g., crying), the specific direction of this influence may depend on prevailing cultural norms regarding emotional expression.
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Citation / Publisher Attribution
Journal of Abnormal Psychology, v. 116, issue 4, p. 776-785
Scholar Commons Citation
Chentsova-Dutton, Yulia E.; Chu, Joyce P.; Tsai, Jeanne L.; Rottenberg, Johnathan; Gross, James J.; and Gotlib, Ian H., "Depression and Emotional Reactivity: Variation among Asian Americans of East Asian Descent and European Americans" (2007). Psychology Faculty Publications. 1803.