Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

National pride brings happiness, but what you're proud of matters

Date:
December 11, 2011
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Research shows that feeling good about your country also makes you feel good about your own life -- and many people take that as good news. But a political scientist and a sociologist suspected that the positive findings about nationalism weren't telling the whole story.

Research shows that feeling good about your country also makes you feel good about your own life -- and many people take that as good news. But Matthew Wright, a political scientist at American University, and Tim Reeskens, a sociologist from Catholic University in Belgium, suspected that the positive findings about nationalism weren't telling the whole story.

"It's fine to say pride in your country makes you happy," says Wright. "But what kind of pride are we talking about? That turns out to make a lot of difference."

The intriguing -- and politically suggestive -- differences they found appear in a commentary in Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science.

Reeskens and Wright divided national pride into two species. "Ethnic" nationalism sees ancestry -- typically expressed in racial or religious terms -- as the key social boundary defining the national "we." "Civic" nationalism is more inclusive, requiring only respect for a country's institutions and laws for belonging. Unlike ethnic nationalism, that view is open to minorities or immigrants, at least in principle.

The authors analyzed the responses to four key questions by 40,677 individuals from 31 countries, drawn from the 2008 wave of the cross-national European Values Study. One question assessed "subjective well being," indicated by general satisfaction with life. Another measured national pride. The other two neatly indicated ethnic and civic national boundaries -- asking respondents to rate the importance of respect for laws and institutions, and of ancestry, to being a true . . . fill in the blank . . . German, Swede, Spaniard. The researchers controlled for such factors as gender, work status, urban or rural residence, and the country's per capita GDP.

Like other researchers, they found that more national pride correlated with greater personal well-being. But the civic nationalists were on the whole happier, and even the proudest ethnic nationalists' well-being barely surpassed that of people with the lowest level of civic pride.

The analysis challenges popular feel-good theories about nationalism. "There's been a renaissance of arguments from political theorists and philosophers that a strong sense of national identity has payoffs in terms of social cohesion, which bolsters support for welfare and other redistributive policies," says Wright. "We've finally gotten around to testing these theories." The conclusion: "You have to look at how people define their pride."

The findings, he adds, give a clue to what popular responses we might expect to "broad macro-economic and social trends" -- that is, millions of people crossing borders (usually from poorer to wealthier countries) looking for work or seeking refuge from war or political repression. "It's unclear what the political implications of the happiness measure are -- though unhappy citizens could demand many politically dangerous, xenophobic responses. Ethnic nationalists, proud or not, appear relatively less happy to begin with and more likely to lead the charge as their nation diversifies around them."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. T. Reeskens, M. Wright. Subjective Well-Being and National Satisfaction: Taking Seriously the "Proud of What?" Question. Psychological Science, 2011; 22 (11): 1460 DOI: 10.1177/0956797611419673

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "National pride brings happiness, but what you're proud of matters." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111209171944.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2011, December 11). National pride brings happiness, but what you're proud of matters. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111209171944.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "National pride brings happiness, but what you're proud of matters." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111209171944.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
App Fights Jet Lag With The Power Of Math

App Fights Jet Lag With The Power Of Math

Newsy (Apr. 13, 2014) Researchers at the University of Michigan have designed an app to fight jet lag by adjusting your body's light intake. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins