Academic Stress as A Health Measure and Its Relationship to Patterns of Emotion in Collectivist and Individualist Cultures: Similarities and Differences

Reza Kormi-Nouri, Shane MacDonald, Mohammad-Naghy Farahani, Kari Trost, Omid Shokri


The present study investigates academic stress in two different cultures, the Iranian as a collectivist culture, and the Swedish as an individualist culture. A total of 616 university students (312 Iranian and 304 Swedish) participated in the study. The results show that Swedish students experience more academic stress than Iranian students. Academic stress was found to be related to difficulties in and outside class, and managing work, family and leisure activities. There was no cultural difference in terms of interacting with the university administration, teachers and friends. There was a gender difference, with females experiencing more academic stress than males, an effect that was more pronounced in Sweden than in Iran. Subset analyses (92 Swedes and 100 Iranians) revealed a tendency of Iranian students to balance positive and negative emotions in comparison to students from Sweden. Partial correlations showed that negative affect was the sole affect to significantly correlate with academic stress in Sweden. Negative and positive affect correlated in unison with academic stress in Iran. These results are discussed on an individualist-collectivist dimension. Cultural differences between the educational systems in the two countries may also explain the differing emotion/affect-health relationships.

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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