Feeling good and open-minded: The impact of positive affect on cross cultural empathic responding.

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Feeling good and open-minded: The impact of positive affect on cross cultural empathic responding.

Two experiments were conducted with US college students to determine whether affective states influence cross-cultural empathy. Participants read about a target who experienced distress and assumed a perspective that was consistent or inconsistent with US norms. When evaluating targets with a dissimilar (versus similar) cultural perspective participants in neutral affect (Experiments 1 and 2) or negative affect (Experiment 2) conditions exhibited less perspective taking and emotional empathy. However those differences were not observed for participants in a positive affect condition. Indeed students in the positive (versus neutral or negative) affect condition exhibited greater perspective taking and feelings of compassion and sympathy for the dissimilar target. Results support (Fredrickson B.L. (1998). What good are positive emotions? Review of General Psychology 2 300?319; Fredrickson B.L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden and build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist 56 218?226) broaden and build theory suggesting positive affect promotes open-minded flexible thinking and builds social resources.

Citation: 
The Journal of Positive Psychology Vol. 4, No. 1, January 2009, 53–63

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