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Is longing only for Germans? a cross-cultural comparison of Sehnsucht in Germany and the United States


Scheibe, S; Blanchard-Fields, F; Wiest, M; Freund, Alexandra M (2011). Is longing only for Germans? a cross-cultural comparison of Sehnsucht in Germany and the United States. Developmental Psychology, 47(3):603-618.

Abstract

Sehnsucht, the longing or yearning for ideal yet seemingly unreachable states of life, is a salient topic in German culture and has proven useful for understanding self-regulation across adulthood in a German sample (e.g., Scheibe, Freund, & Baltes, 2007). The current study tested whether findings for German samples could be generalized to the more individualistic and agentic U.S. American culture. Four samples of U.S. American and German participants (total N = 1,276) age 18 to 81 years reported and rated their 2 most important life longings and completed measures of subjective well-being and health. Measurement equivalence was established at the level of factor loadings for central life longing characteristics. German and U.S. American participants did not differ in self-reported ease of identifying personal life longings or their intensity. In comparison to Germans, however, U.S. Americans associated life longings less with utopian, unattainable states and reported less salience of the concept in everyday life. Associations with measures of adaptation suggest that life longings can be both functional and dysfunctional for development in both cultures.

Abstract

Sehnsucht, the longing or yearning for ideal yet seemingly unreachable states of life, is a salient topic in German culture and has proven useful for understanding self-regulation across adulthood in a German sample (e.g., Scheibe, Freund, & Baltes, 2007). The current study tested whether findings for German samples could be generalized to the more individualistic and agentic U.S. American culture. Four samples of U.S. American and German participants (total N = 1,276) age 18 to 81 years reported and rated their 2 most important life longings and completed measures of subjective well-being and health. Measurement equivalence was established at the level of factor loadings for central life longing characteristics. German and U.S. American participants did not differ in self-reported ease of identifying personal life longings or their intensity. In comparison to Germans, however, U.S. Americans associated life longings less with utopian, unattainable states and reported less salience of the concept in everyday life. Associations with measures of adaptation suggest that life longings can be both functional and dysfunctional for development in both cultures.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:13 Jul 2011 12:32
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:57
Publisher:American Psychological Association
ISSN:0012-1649
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1037/a0021807
PubMed ID:21219068

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