I. Mental Health and Well-Being
a. Culture and General Well-Being
i. Subjective Happiness
1. Diener & Diener (1996) - ³0RVW3HRSOHDUH+DSS\´
x Compared the subjective well-being of Nations on the scale of 0 to 10
x A disposition towards pleasant affect facilitates exploratory behaviour, supporting evolutionary
x However, difficulty meeting basic needs or other circumstances
(e.g., lack of respect) may decrease well-being.
2. Subjective Well-being & World Happiness
x According to world map of happiness, western countries are the happiest. Happiness seems to be
closely linked to access to Health(.62), Wealth(.52) and Education(.51)
x Denmark is the happiest nation in the world, Canada is 10 and US is 23.
x Why is Denmark the happiest? Seems like it is the culture of balance, people can balance their
individual and interpersonal self quiet well. There is acceptance for everyone.
ii. Physical Health
x Traditionally, physical health was viewed as largely biological issue, and outside the realm of
cultural influence. However research has shown that psychological variables are linked to
physical health, and culture influences a wide range of psychological variables.
1. Biological Variability of Humans
x Two distinct categories of explanation of the extent to which human biology varies across
culture. a. Genetic Variation Across Populations
x Humans in different parts of the world were subject to different selection pressure over
generations and this has resulted in human genome diverging across different cultures. In other
words there are innate biological differences across culture.
x Most salient example is skin colour ± When people moved to places with less UVR, people with
lighter skin had selective advantages over people with darker skin, this caused the difference in
x Another example is the lactose persistence in places where cows have been domesticated for
long period of time
x Culture factors are unlikely to play much role in shaping genome because cultures are quiet fluid
and changes over generation. Genetic evolution occurs at a slow pace across many generations
so aside from some large scale culture changes, it is unlikely that culture factors have played a
strong role in human evolution. Furthermore no compelling evidence of genetic variations
underlying psychological processes.
b. Acquired Physical Variation Across Cultures
x Example Moken children have twice the underwater visual acuity of European children.
European children can also be trained to develop same kind of acuity.
i. Obesity and Diet
x Tremendous variability in obesity rates around the world. Although it is possible that certain
weight related genes are more common in one culture than in another, culture definitely plays an
important role in cross-national differences in body weight.
x Obesity rate have risen dramatically across the US and UK, it is not possible that there was an
influx of people with weight related gene into the country.
x Some factors discussed are high calorie food and soda, less activity and more suburban lifestyle.
x French Paradox ± food in France are richer yet obesity in US are five times that of France. One
reason given is that French consume more wine. An alternate explanation to this is the fact that
French consume fewer calories because their cultural environment affects the size of portions of