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Scripts About Happiness Among Urban Families in South India


The ways in which parents socialize positive emotions have important implications for youth wellbeing, though little is known about parental goals and responses to adolescents’ happiness in culturally diverse families. Using an open-ended qualitative methodology, we explored parent and adolescent views about situations leading to happiness, responses and justifications to the expression of happiness, and what parents would like to teach their children about happiness in a sample of 209 parent (56.3% fathers; Mage = 42.79 years) and adolescent (85.2% girls, Mage = 14.95 years) dyads in Bengaluru, India. When prompted to identify adolescents’ recent experiences of happiness, both parents and adolescents primarily described academic and extracurricular achievements, followed by special events and receipt of tangible items, social interactions, and overcoming difficult situations. The two most common parent responses to adolescents’ happiness were responding with appreciation or encouragement of the achievement and providing further instruction or advice, with fewer responses focusing on enhancing/maintaining the emotional state of happiness itself. A substantial proportion of participating parents reported that their child should focus on task improvement when feeling happy, followed by affect maintenance (i.e., the child should “be happy”), or express their emotion with restraint. The findings contribute to developing a culturally-informed understanding of socialization of happiness in diverse families.

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Provost’s Innovation and Interdisciplinary Fund from Miami University, Ohio.

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Correspondence to Pankhuri Aggarwal.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the first author’s institutional review board.

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Aggarwal, P., Raval, V.V., Sathiyaseelan, A. et al. Scripts About Happiness Among Urban Families in South India. J Happiness Stud 23, 2059–2082 (2022).

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  • Happiness
  • Positive affect
  • Parental emotion socialization
  • Culture
  • Wellbeing