When and How Supporting Others Can Improve Life Satisfaction: A Longitudinal Study Examining Collectivistic Values

William Tsai, Sasha Kimel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Individuals who support others reap mental health benefits from this act. Recent studies have identified individual differences in other-oriented processes that shift who benefits the most from support giving. Yet existing studies have examined people from individualistic societies (e.g., United States), and whether these findings extend to individuals from collectivistic societies (e.g., China) remain unknown. Moreover, little is known about the pathways through which support giving may lead to higher life satisfaction. With a sample of Chinese international students, we examined how individual differences in collectivistic values (i.e., face concerns and prosocial motivations) shift the impact of support giving to close others on life satisfaction. We also examined the underlying role of positive and negative emotions. Method: One hundred seventy-eight Chinese international students completed online baseline and 2-month follow-up surveys. Results: Emotional support giving, but not instrumental support giving, was associated with greater life satisfaction through increased positive and reduced negative emotions over time. The mediation pathways were moderated by face concerns such that the indirect effects of both positive and negative emotions were significant only among those with high face concerns and not among those with low face concerns. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the mental health benefits of support giving are shaped by the cultural values of the individual.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-510
Number of pages6
JournalCultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021


  • Collectivism
  • Face concerns
  • Life satisfaction
  • Prosocial motivations
  • Support giving
  • United States
  • China
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Emotions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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