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Self-conscious emotions and psychological distress across cultures: Affirming the relevance of filial attitudes

Woodford, Eleanor (2016) Self-conscious emotions and psychological distress across cultures: Affirming the relevance of filial attitudes. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Previous research has distinguished self-conscious emotions (SCEs), such as shame, guilt and pride, from basic emotions due to the prerequisites of SCEs for selfawareness, self-representations and self-evaluation. In addition, individualistic assumptions and understandings of SCEs have been considered to reflect a perception of the self as an independent self-construal, which contrasts with the collectivistic interdependent self-concept. Whether existing models of SCEs are generalizable to collectivistic cultures remains an open question. The present research applied both quantitative and qualitative methodologies over a span of four studies to investigate cross-cultural differences in the experience of shame, adaptive and maladaptive guilt, and hubristic and authentic pride between Singaporean and Australian young adults. A cross-cultural exploration of SCEs and their relations with filial piety and psychological distress was also conducted.

Study 1 was as an explorative pilot study, from which separation guilt emerged as a culturally relevant SCE that distinguished young Singaporean adults (n=65) from their Australian counterparts (n=64). Study 2 contributed qualitative data in relation to the modus operandi of SCEs within collectivistic and individualistic cultures, whereby young Singaporean adults were found to report more shame and hubristic pride, while their Australian counterparts reported experiencing more authentic pride. Study 2 also found young Singaporean adults to experience more familial guilt (similar to separation guilt), as influenced by attitudes towards filial piety. Study 3 sought to further explore these findings, and young Singaporean adults (n=182) were found to report stronger attitudes towards both reciprocal and authoritarian filial piety than their Australian counterparts (n=189). Finally, Study 4 examined the specific relations between separation guilt, hubristic pride, filial piety and psychological distress in a model for both young Singaporean and Australian adults. The overall findings indicated that shame appears to be a SCE that is strongly related to psychological distress for both Singaporeans and Australians. However, the hypothesized theoretical model indicated that attitudes towards filial piety appear to be particularly relevant for Singaporeans, with unique cultural relations existing between both authoritarian and reciprocal filial piety and hubristic pride, as well as symptoms of depression and anxiety. Theoretical and clinical implications, as well as limitations and suggestions for future research, are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Supervisor(s): Dziurawiec, Suzanne
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