Volume 5, Article 17

Volume 5, Article 17

The Effects of Relational Savoring on Maternal Responsiveness: Investigating the Role of Culture
Ashley Ahn, Patricia A. Smiley, Jessica L. Borelli & Stacey N. Doan

Citation: Ahn, A., Smiley, P. A., Borelli, J. L., & Doan, S. N. (2021). The Effects of Relational Savoring on Maternal
Responsiveness: Investigating the Role of Culture. European Journal of Applied Positive Psychology, 5, 17, 1-11. https://www.nationalwellbeingservice.org/volumes/volume-5-2021/volume-5-article-17

Processing dates: Submitted 18th February 2021; Resubmitted 6th July 2021; Accepted 11th August 2021; Published 8th December 2021

Volume 5, Article 17


Background/Aims/Objectives: Savoring, or the mental prolonging of specific experiences of positive emotion, is associated with positive health and feelings of interpersonal connectedness. However, few studies have examined savoring in families, and even fewer have explored the extent to which savoring effects may vary across cultures. The current study aims to expand research on savoring by evaluating the effects of a brief savoring manipulation on maternal responsiveness and investigating the role of culture to better understand the role of positive emotions in Latinx families.

Methods/Methodology: In a sample of mother-child dyads (N = 66; European American n = 32 and Latinx, non-White n = 34), we investigated the effect of savoring as compared to a control condition, a reflection exercise about daily routines, on observational ratings of two indicators of maternal responsiveness (i.e., verbal and behavioral).

Results: Results show an interaction effect of experimental condition and culture on verbal maternal responsiveness (F(1,66) = 7.02, p = .01, η2 = .11), such that European American mothers who savored were more responsive than those who had reflected, whereas Latina mothers who reflected were more responsive than those who had savored.

Discussion: Our data suggest that the effects of savoring vary as a function of culture, specifically with regard to European American and Latina mothers. Cultural values around emotions and collectivism may help explain these effects.

Conclusions: These findings highlight the importance of studying culture in positive psychology interventions.

Keywords: maternal responsiveness, savoring, Latina mothers, cross-cultural positive psychology

Ashley Ahn is a research coordinator at the Applied Mind and Health/Child Attachment, Relationships, and Emotions Lab. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Claremont McKenna College.

Patricia A. Smiley is a Professor of Psychological Science at Pomona College, where she co-directs the Applied Mind and Health/Child Attachment, Relationships, and Emotions Lab. Her current research focuses on factors that influence young children’s emotional and behavioral adjustment, including parenting, physiological reactivity, and relationship quality. Smiley has published numerous articles on parenting and child outcomes, as well as on individual differences in children’s achievement motivation and language development.

Jessica L. Borelli is an Associate Professor of Psychological Science at University of California, Irvine, where she directs
The Health, Relationships, and Interventions Laboratory. Her research focuses on parent-child relationships and developmental psychopathology, with a particular focus on developing ways of improving relationships in order to improve well-being. Borelli has published over 100 peer reviewed journal articles in the areas of child development, developmental psychopathology, and relationships. In addition, she is a practicing clinical psychologist and the clinical director of Compass Therapy in Newport Beach, California.

Stacey N. Doan is an Associate Professor of Psychological Science and Director of the Berger Institute at Claremont
McKenna College. She is also Adjunct Associate Professor of Population Sciences at City of Hope National Medical Center. Dr. Doan’s research is focused on social determinants of health, health disparities and resilience. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and multiple foundations.