by Paul T. P. Wong, Ph.D. C.Psych
Culture affects us in numerous and significant ways. It influences how we think (Nisbett, 2003), what we value (Hofstede, 1984; Leong & Wong, 2003), how we behave (Brislin, 1999) and how we cope (Wong & Wong, 2006). Culture shapes psychology, especially positive psychology, because it is value-laden.
Consistent with the current wave of cross-cultural psychology and international psychology (Emmons, 2006; Kim, Yang, & Hwang, 2006; Lehman, Chiu, & Schaller, 2004; Triandis, 1994), the next stage of development of positive psychology (PP) is to go global. The hedgemony of American psychology will hinder the discovery of universal principles and cultural specifics in positive psychology. Integration between Eastern and Western perspectives of PP would be a good start towards internalizing PP (Snyder & Lopez, 2007).
Cultural differences in positive psychology
The positive psychology as advocated by Martin Seligman and associates (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000; Snyder & Lopez, 2005) is the product of American culture with its ideology of liberal democracy, positive expectations and individualistic values; it is best for a time of peace and prosperity. Recently, researchers begin to pay some attention to cultural differences in the good life (King & Napa, 1998; Haidt, 2005).
There is increasing evidence that cultural values and cultural beliefs influence such matters as what constitutes the good life and optimal functioning (Haidt, 2005; Leong & Wong, 2003; Lopez, Edwards, Magyar-Moe, Pedrotti, & Ryder, 2003; Peterson & Seligman, 2004; Snyder & Lopez, 2007).