Who are Prone to Depression: Asians or Westerners?

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Cultural differences between Western and Asian cultures in individualism-collectivism (I-C), a dimension of cultural variability, show a strong possibility that Asians are predisposed to more negative emotions than are Westerners.

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Individualistic cultures, most of which are Western, promote individual needs, wishes, desires, and values over group and collective ones (Matsumoto, 1990). Consequently, hierarchical differences in status or power are minimized while equality is emphasized (Matsumoto, 1990).

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In contrast, collective cultures, many of which are Asian, promote the opposite; they stress the needs of a group, individuals identify themselves as members of a group, and one’s social role is defined by an entrenched system of hierarchical differences and vertical relationships (Matsumoto, 1990).

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Members of individualistic cultures tend to display more negative emotions to ingroup members and more positive emotions to outgroup members. Conversely, members of collective cultures tend to display more positive emotions to members of ingroups and more negative emotions to those of outgroups (Matsumoto, 1990).

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These display rules should predispose Asians to more negative emotions, which may result in depression, at least in the social interactions with outgroups.

Emotion regulation norms for Asian and Western cultures also demonstrate a greater likelihood for depression among Asians than among Westerners. Since emotion regulation refers to the ability to manage and modify one’s emotional reactions in order to achieve a desirable outcome, it reflects the different ways that culture tries to achieve social order (Matsumoto, Yoo, & Nakagawa, 2005).

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Cultural display rules, social roles, and emotion regulation norms have effectively contributed to the predisposition of Asians to be more passive, non-assertive, and anxious in interpersonal situations than Westerners (Okazaki, Liu, & Minn, 2002). The results from a study that examined differences between Asian American and White American on a trait measure of social anxiety and self-reports of anxiety-related emotions during a 3-min social performance task indicated that Asian Americans reported more anxiety than White Americans (Okazaki et al., 2002).

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Source

“Understanding the Concept of Depression Sociology Essay.” Retrieved from https://www.ukessays.com/essays/sociology/understanding-the-concept-of-depression-sociology-essay.php.

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The Religiosity of the Filipino Catholic Christians

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Photo: St. Joseph Cathedral, Butuan City, Philippines (courtesy of the author)

Surveys on Filipino religiosity by the Social Weather Station (SWS) had consistently revealed a more privatized faith for the Filipino Christians, i.e., a Christian faith focusing only on private spirituality and lacking in social involvement. The results revealed that most Filipinos consider themselves very religious, with very strong beliefs in the existence of God and higher level of participation in religious activities.

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In particular, the Filipino youth (within ages 15 and 30) regarded themselves as religious (extremely religious 9%, very religious 29% and somewhat religious 49% or a total of 89%) in a 1996 SWS survey commissioned for the Philippine Youth Commission. This high level of religiosity is not, however, accompanied by a strong social involvement, particularly in organizational involvement. Only 12 percent of the Filipino youth are involved in church and religious organizations as well as in sports and recreational organizations. With regard to participation in charitable institutions, only 3% of the youth are involved.

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Photo credit: author

In general, most religiosity surveys revealed that the Filipino faith, although high in religious belief, lacked public character. Most of the popular Filipino religious practices are more oriented towards the individual and/or small circle of friends and relatives and lacking in structural dimension demanded by the CST.

Penitence

Photo: Filipino Christians doing in penitence during Holy Week in the Philippines (Source: http://thepinoywarrior.com)

The Filipino religious practice of penitensya (penitence) during Lent, for instance, encourages a pietistic and individualist orientation of faith. Though hugely popular, the devotion remains an individualist effort to atone one’s individual sin and lacking in social dimension. The popular devotion to the Black Nazarene in Quiapo is also devoid of liberational dimension. Many devotees participated in the devotion as a form of personal and familial gratitude due to some material favors they received from the Black Nazarene.

nazarene

Photo: The procession of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo (Source: http://theologasia.com)

Fernando Zialcita, a Filipino anthropologist, confirmed this pattern in his earlier study of the black Nazarene devotion. His informants revealed that the motivation in joining the Black Nazarene devotion is more materialist in nature, deviating from the Church’s official spiritual on devotion.  Filipinos rate themselves very high in religiosity and religious beliefs but they did not seem to relate them to social issues and problems as indicated by religiosity surveys and popular devotions in the country like the Black Nazarene.

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Photo credit: author

This finding is consistent with the study done by Dr. Ricardo Abad (2005) on the social capital of Filipinos: Filipinos tend to be affiliated more with their own smaller circles of relatives and friends and less in organizations and associations in the Church or in civil society. The Filipino Christianity is generally a privatized or personal one.

Sto. Nino

Photo: Sinulog procession in honor of the Sto. Nino in Cebu City, Philippines (Source:http://catholicleader.com.au)

The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II) says that most of the people’s faith today is centered on the practice of the rites of popular piety and not on community and of building up of the world into the image of the Kingdom (PCP #13), specifically on building up of a faith community and involvement in social issues (PCP II#17). For this reason PCP II recommended a rigorous catechism of the “unchurched” or “nominal” Catholics, that is, the vast majority of Catholics in the Philippines who greatly lack knowledge and formation in the Christian faith, particularly on the Church’s social doctrines. Thus, catechism and Christian formation of Filipino Catholics on the social doctrines of the Church are, therefore, urgently needed in order to develop their Christian social conscience and  spirituality of social transformation.

pexels-photo-326709.jpeg

One must remember that the Christian faith is neither all about social activism and pietism nor solely about saving the individual’s soul, but a fine blend of spiritual and social struggle for the total liberation of the individual and society from all forms of personal and social sins. The Second Vatican Council emphasized that the mission of the Church in the contemporary world is helping human being to discover God as the ultimate meaning of his/her existence (CSDC #576). The Church’s mission is the total salvation of the individual and society from spiritual and material slavery.

Photo credit (except those with source): author, Pexels.com free photos

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The Religiosity of the Filipino Catholic Christians

IMG_0244

Photo: St. Joseph Cathedral, Butuan City, Philippines (courtesy of the author)

Surveys on Filipino religiosity by the Social Weather Station (SWS) had consistently revealed a more privatized faith for the Filipino Christians, i.e., a Christian faith focusing only on private spirituality and lacking in social involvement. The results revealed that most Filipinos consider themselves very religious, with very strong beliefs in the existence of God and higher level of participation in religious activities.

pexels-photo-1021145.jpeg

In particular, the Filipino youth (within ages 15 and 30) regarded themselves as religious (extremely religious 9%, very religious 29% and somewhat religious 49% or a total of 89%) in a 1996 SWS survey commissioned for the Philippine Youth Commission. This high level of religiosity is not, however, accompanied by a strong social involvement, particularly in organizational involvement. Only 12 percent of the Filipino youth are involved in church and religious organizations as well as in sports and recreational organizations. With regard to participation in charitable institutions, only 3% of the youth are involved.

IMG_0167

Photo credit: author

In general, most religiosity surveys revealed that the Filipino faith, although high in religious belief, lacked public character. Most of the popular Filipino religious practices are more oriented towards the individual and/or small circle of friends and relatives and lacking in structural dimension demanded by the CST.

Penitence

Photo: Filipino Christians doing in penitence during Holy Week in the Philippines (Source: http://thepinoywarrior.com)

The Filipino religious practice of penitensya (penitence) during Lent, for instance, encourages a pietistic and individualist orientation of faith. Though hugely popular, the devotion remains an individualist effort to atone one’s individual sin and lacking in social dimension. The popular devotion to the Black Nazarene in Quiapo is also devoid of liberational dimension. Many devotees participated in the devotion as a form of personal and familial gratitude due to some material favors they received from the Black Nazarene.

nazarene

Photo: The procession of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo (Source: http://theologasia.com)

Fernando Zialcita, a Filipino anthropologist, confirmed this pattern in his earlier study of the black Nazarene devotion. His informants revealed that the motivation in joining the Black Nazarene devotion is more materialist in nature, deviating from the Church’s official spiritual on devotion.  Filipinos rate themselves very high in religiosity and religious beliefs but they did not seem to relate them to social issues and problems as indicated by religiosity surveys and popular devotions in the country like the Black Nazarene.

IMG_1656

Photo credit: author

This finding is consistent with the study done by Dr. Ricardo Abad (2005) on the social capital of Filipinos: Filipinos tend to be affiliated more with their own smaller circles of relatives and friends and less in organizations and associations in the Church or in civil society. The Filipino Christianity is generally a privatized or personal one.

Sto. Nino

Photo: Sinulog procession in honor of the Sto. Nino in Cebu City, Philippines (Source:http://catholicleader.com.au)

The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II) says that most of the people’s faith today is centered on the practice of the rites of popular piety and not on community and of building up of the world into the image of the Kingdom (PCP #13), specifically on building up of a faith community and involvement in social issues (PCP II#17). For this reason PCP II recommended a rigorous catechism of the “unchurched” or “nominal” Catholics, that is, the vast majority of Catholics in the Philippines who greatly lack knowledge and formation in the Christian faith, particularly on the Church’s social doctrines. Thus, catechism and Christian formation of Filipino Catholics on the social doctrines of the Church are, therefore, urgently needed in order to develop their Christian social conscience and  spirituality of social transformation.

pexels-photo-326709.jpeg

One must remember that the Christian faith is neither all about social activism and pietism nor solely about saving the individual’s soul, but a fine blend of spiritual and social struggle for the total liberation of the individual and society from all forms of personal and social sins. The Second Vatican Council emphasized that the mission of the Church in the contemporary world is helping human being to discover God as the ultimate meaning of his/her existence (CSDC #576). The Church’s mission is the total salvation of the individual and society from spiritual and material slavery.

Photo credit (except those with source): author, Pexels.com free photos

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Check These Things Out Before You Fall in Love

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Choosing the right partner is closely connected with one’s cultural taste and socialization in life. Every individual has his/her own “wish list” of traits they hope to find from their suitors, boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses or lovers. In sociology, every person undergoes a socialization process or social upbringing in order to become a productive human being in a particular society.

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A person’s “wish List” of an ideal romantic partner is influenced by his/her socialization to romantic love, particularly by his/her exposure to love, from childhood up to the moment s/he starts to fall in love. A person who is socially isolated and rarely exposed to romanticism, for instance, would be less interested in romance than one who is addicted to romantic film, novel, music and other romantic materials. And since the process of social learning is a lifelong process, this wish list is also evolving as the person matures with age and moves up in social stature.

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Young people, for instance, usually have a wish list of an ideal boyfriend and girlfriend, which is more focused on looks or physical traits, while older adults are more focused on financial stability, compatibility, commitment, and social standing of the partner. Without some sort of a strong spiritual and cultural belief or tradition that binds the love relationship, people can fall out of love with their partners and file a divorce  because of some changes of their wish list through time. According to Benjamin Disraeli, the “first magic of love is our ignorance that it can ever end.”  A young man who married his sexy sweetheart may fall out of love during midlife when he observed that his wife has become obese or physically unattractive due to work or motherhood and may look for another partner who is  younger and  more attractive than his wife.

Despite the change of one’s wish list due to changes in age and life situations, it is also possible that a person still maintains some desirable psychological traits of an ideal romantic partner in life. Some research studies show that a person’s positive or negative experience with their parents or family life can determine his or her ideal qualities of an ideal partner. Thus, a girl who is close to her own nurturing father may be looking for a partner or father figure who also possesses this type of personality trait. As Charles A. Stoddard would put it: “We love in others what we lack ourselves, and would be everything but what we are.”

On Physical Traits

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Romantic love often begins with physicality. People are embodied beings and communicate with the world through their bodies. In cultures where marriages are arranged, physicality is not a major problem in the selection of partners. But in urban and advanced societies with strong emphasis on romantic love and falling in love before marriage, physical looks play an important role in the selection of partners. Research has shown that it only takes between 90 seconds and 4 minutes for a person to fall in love at first sight or fancy someone. And what usually attracts the person during this moment is not what the other says, but what his or her presence projects through body language (55%) and the tone and speed of the voice (38%). The content of what the person says is only 7%.

There has to be some sort of physical basis before two strangers fall in love. People have some minimum standards of beauty which he or she learned through social learning. This is usually attuned to his or her cultural upbringing and taste. Thus, “loving one’s own” is a common pattern in falling in love. People with similar culture, race, ethnicity, social class, religion, geographical location, and social categories usually more disposed to fall in love with each than those with more dissimilarities and cultural incompatibilities. Cultural similarities reduce a lot of social barriers that make the love relationship easier to maintain. A study published in the journal  Psychological Science found that men who live in cultures where food and money are scarce tend to find heavier women more attractive than thinner ones. These men may see the extra pounds as a status symbol; a buxom figure signals having the means to purchase plenty of food.

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People with similar cultural background share similar standards of beauty and are, therefore, more likely to fall in love than complete cultural strangers. Of course, with the advent of digital technology and the Internet, people’s standards of physical beauty may become hybrid or mixed, especially to those who are heavy users of the multi-cultural world wide web. Cultural diffusion through the Internet can change people’s standards of beauty and love and can make them accepting of foreign standards of falling in love.

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It’s probable that a person “falls in love for the first time” because of the physical presence of the other as resembling somebody, whether real or imagined, whom he or she idolizes or had a crush, whether a celebrity, a friend, former classmate or officemate or anybody he or she had been attracted to. The person’s wish list of an ideal romantic partner immediately become active during the first encounter and “falls in love” with somebody he or she has not been known acquainted with. Although popularly considered as “love at first sight”, experts and moralists do not generally consider this as love but infatuation and only a first step towards true love. Using biological theory, Helen Fisher of Rutgers University also considers “love at first sight” as only the first of the 3 stages of love: lust, attraction and attachment. For her, the first stage of love is only lust. This is the amazing moment when two people are driven by the sex hormones of testosterone and estrogen. In the second stage, the couple is truly love-struck and can think of little else. And in the third and attachment stage, the couple is bonded together long enough to have and raise children.

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Social Vulnerability in Disasters and the Philippines

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Social vulnerability is defined as “the susceptibility of groups to the impacts of hazards, as well as their resiliency, or ability to adequately recover from them” (Cutter and Emrich, 2006, p. 103). “Social vulnerability highlights differences in the human capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. It varies over space and time, and among and between social groups, largely due to differences in socioeconomic and demographic characteristics” (Abstract, Hummel, Cutter, & Emrich, 2016).

Although considerable research attention has examined components of biophysical vulnerability and the vulnerability of the built environment (Mileri, 1999), few studies have been done to understand it. Socially created vulnerabilities are largely ignored, mainly due to the difficulty in quantifying them, which also explains why social losses are normally absent in after-disaster cost/loss estimation reports. Instead, social vulnerability is most often described using the individual characteristics of people (age, race, health, income, type of dwelling unit, employment). Social vulnerability is partially the product of social inequalities—those social factors that influence or shape the susceptibility of various groups to harm and that also govern their ability to respond. However, it also includes place inequalities—those characteristics of communities and the built environment, such as the level of urbanization, growth rates, and economic vitality that contribute to the social vulnerability of places” (Cutter, Boruff, & Shirley, 2003, p. 243).

Generally speaking, vulnerability to environmental hazards means the potential for loss. Since losses vary geographically, over time, and among different social groups, vulnerability also varies over time and space. Within the hazards literature, vulnerability has many different connotations, depending on the research orientation and perspective (Dow, 1992; Cutter, 1996; 2001a).

There are three main tenets in vulnerability research: the identification of conditions that make people or place vulnerable to extreme natural events, an exposure model (Burton Kates, and White, 1993; Anderson, 2000); the assumption that vulnerability is a social condition, a measure of social resistance or resilience to hazards (Blaike et al,1994; Hewit, 1997); and the integration of potential exposures and societal resilience with a specific focus on particular places or regions (Kasperon, Kasperon, and Turner, 1995; Cutter, Mitchell, and Scott, 2000) (Cutter, Boruff, & Shirley, 2003, p. 242-243).”

Social vulnerability of people to disasters in a population is not evenly distributed. Some regions are more susceptible to the impacts of hazards than other places based on the characteristics of the people residing within them. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, differential vulnerabilities were observed: residencies in high-risk areas such as the hurricane coasts received catastrophic losses compared to other places hit by the hurricane. This geographic discrepancies in social vulnerability thus requires different mitigation, post-response, and recovery actions (Cutter and Emrich, 2006, p. 102).

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The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to disasters. Typhoon Ketsana or Ondoy in 2009 revealed differential vulnerabilities of the country. Its impacts largely depend on the physical attributes of the place and the social characteristics of people residing in it. Some areas suffered devastating losses in life and property compared to other places. The local government units (LGUs) are in the forefront of disaster management, including responding to the impacts of climate change in the Philippines.

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70 percent of the country’s disasters are due to hydro-meteorological phenomena such as typhoon and flooding. LGUs, being in the forefront in the delivery of basic services, also have the mandate in Disaster Risk Management (DRM) as provided for by a number of national policies such as the Climate Change Act of 2009 and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Act of 2010 (Penalba, Elazegui, Pulhin & Cruz, 2012, p.309).

Because adaptation to climate change is location-specific, the role of local institutions is critical in shaping adaptation and improving capacities of the most vulnerable social groups. However, many LGUs are not aware of climate change phenomena and do not have the capacity to assist the affected communities in preparing climate change adaptation measures. It is important for people, communities and institutions to develop adaptive capacity and enhance resilience to minimize risks, damages and losses (Penalba, Elazegui, Pulhin & Cruz, 2012, p.309).

The local government code (LGC) of the Philippines vests authority to LGUs (i.e. provinces, cities and municipalities and villages in the implementation and maintenance of disaster management program, ensuring prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, rehabilitation and reconstruction, and development) (Penalba, Elazegui, Pulhin & Cruz, 2012, p.309).

Vulnerability in the Philippines is determined by the socioeconomic characteristics of the communities and their abilities in responding effectively. The capacity to adapt varies across regions, countries, and socioeconomic groups and will vary over time. The most vulnerable regions and communities are those that are highly exposed to the changes expected in the climate and have limited adaptive capacity. Countries with limited economic resources, low levels of technology, poor information and skills, poor infrastructure, unstable or weak institutions, and inequitable empowerment and access to resources have little capacity to adapt and are highly vulnerable (IPCC, 2001) (Penalba, Elazegui, Pulhin & Cruz, 2012, p.310).

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