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Impact of social economic development on positive and negative affect among Chinese college students: a cross-temporal meta-analysis, 2001–2016


There have been data revealing the past changes of well-being and its cognitive component, i.e., life satisfaction among Chinese, but the changes of affective component of subjective well-being were undetermined. The present study focused on the past changes of positive and negative affect among Chinese. Study 1 preliminarily examined the cross-temporal trends of affect words frequency in Chinese books based on Google Ngram Viewer from 2001 to 2008, and found that positive affect words appeared more frequently, while frequency of negative affect words did not change obviously. In Study 2, a cross-temporal meta-analysis on positive and negative affect was conducted during 2001–2016 among Chinese college students, and the potential moderation effects of GDP growth rate and perceived social mobility change were explored. Based on weighted regression and representation similarity analysis, results showed that positive affect had improved during 2001–2016 among Chinese college students, while negative affect remained largely unchanged. In addition, there was significant moderation effect of GDP growth rate in negative affect change, and perceived social mobility change in both positive and negative affect changes. Altogether, the present findings supplemented the existing literature by providing evidence on rising positive affective states among Chinese college students during the period which China experienced the greatest economic growth and social transform in history.

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Data availability

The datasets generated and analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Code availability

The code in the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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This work was supported by grants from the Natural Science Foundation of China (Project 31800916, 32071081) (SL); the Guangdong Basic and Applied Basic Research Foundation (Project 2020A1515010975) (SL); and the Humanities and Social Science Foundation of Ministry of Education of China (Project 20YJC190016) (LP).

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SL and LP: Designed the study, LP: performed the literature search and data analysis and drafted, SL: revised the draft substantially.

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Correspondence to Siyang Luo.

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Peng, L., Luo, S. Impact of social economic development on positive and negative affect among Chinese college students: a cross-temporal meta-analysis, 2001–2016. Cult. Brain (2022).

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  • Chinese college students
  • Cross-temporal meta-analyses
  • Affect
  • GDP
  • Social mobility