Developing Positive Psychological Interventions: Maximizing Efficacy for Use in Eastern Cultures
This chapter explores the feasibility of using positive psychological interventions (PPIs) in a multicultural context, and proposes ways to optimize the effectiveness of PPIs in Eastern cultures. Research in the current literature examining the use of PPIs is predominantly based on European American samples. Of the few studies involving Asians or comparing cultural differences, preliminary evidence suggests that culture influences the effectiveness of PPIs. Specifically, using PPIs improves European Americans’ sense of well-being more than it does for Asians’ well-being. Furthermore, not all positive interventions are equally effective for Asians—some positive activities may benefit Asians less than European Americans. This chapter examines whether PPIs may be differentially effective across cultures, and explores how a framework that maximizes the efficacy of PPIs in Eastern cultures can be developed. First, the chapter proposes that the definition of PPIs should be expanded to include not only volitional activities that are rooted in an individualistic perspective, but also obligatory activities that are rooted in a collectivistic perspective. An inclusive definition of PPIs enables understanding of multiple avenues of attaining optimal functioning. The chapter then proposes recommendations for optimizing the effectiveness of PPIs for use in Eastern cultures. Strategies could include having multiple positive activities, aimed to prevent hedonic adaptation, and also to enable participants to uncover the activities that they are more adept at using. Developing new activities that may not be considered inherently “positive”, but that may facilitate optimal functioning (e.g., seeking meaning, or building resilience) in a broader sense, will also be one aim of this framework. Such activities may be more relevant to certain populations, for e.g., Asians, who tend to conceptualize well-being differently from Westerners.
KeywordsMaximizing effectiveness of positive interventions Individualistic Eastern cultures Optimal functioning
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