In this paper, we introduce the concept of ‘societal emotional environment’: the emotional climate of a society (operationalized as the degree to which positive and negative emotions are expressed in a society). Using data collected from 12,888 participants across 49 countries, we show how societal emotional environments vary across countries and cultural clusters, and we consider the potential importance of these differences for well-being. Multilevel analyses supported a ‘double-edged sword’ model of negative emotion expression, where expression of negative emotions predicted higher life satisfaction for the expresser but lower life satisfaction for society. In contrast, partial support was found for higher societal life satisfaction in positive societal emotional environments. Our study highlights the potential utility and importance of distinguishing between positive and negative emotion expression, and adopting both individual and societal perspectives in well-being research. Individual pathways to happiness may not necessarily promote the happiness of others.
This work was supported by the Polish National Science Centre under grant 2016/23/D/HS6/02946; the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science under grants P17806 and 17F17806; the Hungarian OTKA under grant K-111 789; the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development – CNPq under grant 301298/2018-1; the Czech Science Foundation CSF under grant 20-08583S; the National Natural Science Foundation of China under grant 71873133; and the Department of Educational Studies, University of Roma Tre under biannual Grant DSF 2017-2018.
- Latin America
- life satisfaction
- emotion expression
- emotion regulation
- societal well-being
- Societal emotional environment