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Mixed Emotions May Mean You Have More Emotional Depth Than Others

First Posted: Jan 22, 2016 07:11 AM EST
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Do you have mixed emotions? Then you may have emotional depth rather than simply being indecisive. Scientists have found that experiencing mixed emotions show emotional complexity.

"People in many western countries see mixed feelings as undesirable-as if to suggest that someone experiencing mixed feelings is wishy-washy," said Igor Grossmann, one of the researchers, in a news release. "Actually, we found that both westerners and non-westerners who show mixed feelings are better able to differentiate their emotions and experience their lives in an emotionally rich and balanced fashion."

The findings indicate that people living in self-oriented cultures, such as Canada, the United States, Great Britain or Australia, were less emotionally complex than people living in other-oriented cultures with a greater emphasis on feelings of duty and familial bonds. For example, people in various parts of Asia and Russia showed considerably more complexity in their emotions.

"People in those other-oriented cultures are more likely to experience emotional complexity because they are able to see different perspectives," said Grossman. "For example, they might see a job loss as disappointed, but also as an exciting opportunity to spend more time with family or to try something new. Someone from a culture that is oriented towards personal achievement is more likely to see it as all negative."

The findings reveal that emotional complexity isn't a bad thing. It also shows the degree to which a culture promotes focus on other people rather than the self, including greater awareness of others.

The findings are published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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