Previous studies from western countries have reported that happy
individuals report lower levels of negative mood during and/or following mental
stress testing; this finding has not been examined in Japan. This study
examined the relationship between happiness, measured using the Subjective
Happiness Scale (Lyubomirsky & Lepper, 1999), and negative moods (i.e.,
tension and anxiety) during and after mental stress testing in Japanese college
students. Based on the findings of previous literature and inverse correlations
between positive and negative moods, we hypothesized that participants with
higher levels of happiness (the higher happiness group, or HG) show
significantly lower levels of negative moods and higher levels of positive
moods following mental stress testing, compared to participants with lower levels
of happiness (the lower happiness group, or LG). Of a total of 392 Japanese undergraduates
who participated in a screening survey, those whose scores were one standard
deviation higher or lower than the average score were invited to participate in
the experiment. Eight HG and nine LG students agreed to participate. A five-minute
computerized mental arithmetic task was used to induce stress. The session
comprised a five minute pre-task period, a five minute task, and a five minute
post-task period. The levels of positive and negative moods during each period
were measured retrospectively following each period. Heart rate was measured
during the session. Participant heart rate levels and negative moods increased
significantly from the pre-task to the task periods, and subsequently decreased
during the post-task period. Levels of positive mood decreased from the
pre-task to the task period. Negative moods were significantly lower in HGs
than in LGs during the post-task period. These results partially supported the
hypothesis whereby subjective happiness buffered the impact of stressors on
negative moods by influencing post-stress negative mood levels.
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