Was he happy? Cultural difference in conceptions of Jesus

Shigehiro Oishi, Kyoung Ok Seol, Minkyung Koo, Felicity F. Miao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In two studies, we examined whether (a) conceptions of Jesus would differ between Koreans and Americans, and whether (b) national differences in self-reported personality and well-being are mediated by the cultural norm for personality and well-being. Because there is only one Jesus, different conceptions held by Koreans and Americans are likely to reflect cultural construction processes. In Study 1, we asked Korean and American participants to engage in a free association task with Jesus as a target. Americans associated Jesus with primarily positive connotations (" awesome") and rarely with negative connotations (" pain"), whereas Koreans associated Jesus with both positive and negative connotations. In Study 2, we asked Korean and American participants to rate Jesus and themselves using personality and well-being scales. Americans rated both Jesus and themselves as more extraverted, agreeable, conscientious, open, and happier than did Koreans. Most important, national differences in self-reported agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness, and happiness were partially mediated by conceptions of Jesus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-91
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Culture
  • Emotion
  • Happiness
  • Personality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • General Psychology


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