Study: Russians Gloomier but Less Depressed

It’s a well-worn stereotype: the grim-faced, brooding Russian. But is there any truth to it? In a recent study, a group of scientists from the University of Michigan found that, though young Russians do seem to brood more than their American counterparts, they are better able to cope with negative thoughts and experiences. The Globe and Mail reports: (hat tip: JRL

In the first study, the researchers looked at self-reflection and depression among 85 American students and 83 Russian students, age 21 on average.

They used a personality-trait scale developed by Yale University’s Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, a leading expert on rumination. Sample statements included, “I often spend time by myself thinking about past negative experiences,” and, “I often like to walk in the park and think about past events,” Mr. Grossmann said.

The researchers observed that although Russians were more likely to brood, they had fewer depressive symptoms than the Americans.

In the second study, 86 American and 76 Russian students were asked to recall a recent unpleasant experience, be it a breakup, infidelity or a fight with a friend. The participants were asked if they’d achieved closure or still blamed the other party. They were also asked to describe whether they were replaying the event through their own eyes or if they were watching it unfold as “a fly on the wall.”

Compared to the Americans, the Russian students were more likely to spontaneously distance themselves from the situation as they analyzed their emotions.