Relationship Between Emotional Expression Discrepancy and Life Satisfaction Across Culture and Personal Values

  • Min Young Kim
  • Mohsen Joshanloo
  • Emese Foldesi


People can experience a discrepancy between their ideal and actual emotions. We hypothesized that this emotional discrepancy would be associated with people’s life satisfaction, depending on their culture and individual emotional values. We tested this hypothesis across three cultures (the United States, Hungary, and South Korea) and three broad categories of personal values (hedonic, collaboration, and confrontation). Participants reported the levels of their ideal and actual expression of four discrete emotions (anger, excitement, empathy, and sadness), as well as their levels of life satisfaction and emotion-related personal values. A three-way interaction analysis revealed that the discrepancy in empathy expression (i.e., perceiving self as expressing more empathy than others in one’s culture) increased life satisfaction more among Americans with hedonic values than among Koreans with hedonic values. Furthermore, the discrepancy decreased life satisfaction among Hungarians with hedonic values. In addition, discrepancy in sadness (i.e., expressing more sadness than others) decreased life satisfaction less among Americans with collaboration value, while it decreased life satisfaction more in Koreans with collaboration value. In Hungary, the sadness discrepancy increased life satisfaction among people with collaboration value. Findings suggest that the association between emotional discrepancy and life satisfaction is moderated by both culture and personal values.


Emotional discrepancy Expression Life satisfaction Culture Personal value 



This study was funded by Keimyung University (grant number 20150186).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Min Young Kim has received research grants from Keimyung University. Mohsen Joshanloo declares that he has no conflict of interest. Emese Foldesi declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

12144_2018_9826_MOESM1_ESM.doc (39 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 39 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Min Young Kim
    • 1
  • Mohsen Joshanloo
    • 1
  • Emese Foldesi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyKeimyung UniversityDaeguSouth Korea

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