When the Grass Could Be Greener: Psychological Correlates of Positive Affect Discrepancies in White American and Taiwanese Samples

Alisia G.T.T. Tran, Jenny C. Su, Shiqin S. Chong, Lin Woei-Haur

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Scopus citations


    Drawing on self-discrepancy, social comparison, and affect valuation theories, this cross-cultural investigation explores the associations of actual–other and actual–deal discrepancies in positive affect with psychological functioning (i.e., psychological distress, satisfaction with life). Across White American (n = 157) and Taiwanese (n = 220) samples, results indicated that individuals reported poorer psychological functioning the more that the positive affect they wanted to feel (actual–deal discrepancies) or believed others felt (actual–other discrepancies) exceeded their own. Moreover, the magnitude of association between low-arousal positive affect (LAPA; for example, peaceful) and psychological functioning was generally stronger for the Taiwanese sample. Moderated mediation models further indicated cross-cultural variations. Specifically, lower independent self-construal was linked to greater actual–deal and actual–other LAPA discrepancies, which were associated with poorer psychological functioning for both samples; but these mediation effects were stronger for the Taiwanese sample than the American sample. A similar moderated mediation effect was significant for actual–deal high-arousal positive affect (HAPA; for example, excited) in relation to psychological distress but countered predictions based on affect valuation theory. The potential merits and limitations of theoretical assumptions in light of these findings are discussed. Results extend current knowledge on possible correlates (e.g., LAPA discrepancies) of poor psychological functioning among individuals in different cultural contexts.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)931-949
    Number of pages19
    JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
    Issue number6
    StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


    • affect valuation
    • culture
    • positive affect
    • psychological functioning
    • self-discrepancies
    • social comparison

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Psychology
    • Cultural Studies
    • Anthropology


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