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Independence Day Science — Insights From Psychological Science

This is a photo of small american flags.

Patriotic and Happy

How you feel about your country may affect how you feel about your life. Data from an international poll (that included responses from over 130,000 individuals from 128 countries) showed that national satisfaction (i.e., satisfaction with one’s country) was a strong predictor of life satisfaction (i.e., subjective well-being). This relationship was strongest in the poorest countries and among individuals with the least income. In contrast, people with more resources placed a greater emphasis on health, standard of living, and job satisfaction, which suggests that individuals experiencing poverty make national satisfaction a more central component of their social identity.
Subjective Well-Being and National Satisfaction: Findings From a Worldwide Survey
Mike Morrison, Louis Tay, and Ed Diener
Psychological Science, February 2011

Civic Nationalism is the Key to Patriotic Happiness

National identity is a multifaceted concept, and subjective well-being may depend not only on the extent to which individuals identify with their nation (in an affective sense), but also on their conception of its social boundaries, and an interaction between these two dimensions.
Subjective Well-Being and National Satisfaction: Taking Seriously the “Proud of What?” Question
Tim Reeskens and Mathew Wright
Psychological Science, November 2011

Imagining Alternate History Increases Patriotism

How might the United States be different today if the Thirteen Colonies had not rebelled against British rule? Engaging in counterfactual reflection — thinking about how events might have and almost did turn out differently for countries and organizations — may affect individuals’ feelings of connections to those institutions. Volunteers counterfactually reflecting on their country or company (e.g., describing ways their company or nation might not have come into being) reported greater patriotism and more commitment to their company than did volunteers factually reflecting on their company’s or country’s origins. Results also suggest that a sense of fate and poignancy may mediate the relationship between counterfactual reflection and increased commitment.
For more on this study check out this blog by Wray Herbert
Company, Country, Connections: Counterfactual Origins Increase Organizational Commitment, Patriotism, and Social Investment
Hal Ersner-Hershfield, Adam D. Galinsky, Laura J. Kray, and Brayden G. King
Psychological Science, October 2010

Why Do We ‘Rally ‘Round the Flag’?

In times of national threat, there are often changes in sociopolitical attitudes. An example of positive changes seen during threatening situations is the “rally-’round-the-flag effect,” which is characterized by increases in presidential popularity. Although rally-’round-the-flag effects are often thought to reflect a desire for security and safety driven by anxiety, the authors describe a conflicting view in which sociopolitical shifts are mediated by anger. The authors describe evidence supporting this viewpoint and discuss implications of, and future directions for, this research.
Threat, Politics, and Attitudes: Toward a Greater Understanding of Rally-’Round-the-Flag Effects
Alan J. Lambert, J. P. Schott, and Laura Scherer
Current Directions in Psychological Science, December 2011

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