Method

Design

            This research employs a 2x2x2x2 mixed factorial design.  The gender (female, male) and age of the target (25, 50) were manipulated as between subjects variables.  The family variables of the perceivers (gender: female, male) and age (parents, adult children) were treated as related measures for the analyses.

Participants

            Questionnaires were distributed to family members of 120 women undergraduate students enrolled in an introductory psychology class at a women’s university in Seoul Korea. Of these 105 packets were returned.  ____ contained errors and were not used in the study. Each student received a packet of four questionnaires with instructions to have a questionnaire completed by her mother, her father and by a male family member around her own age (brother or cousin).  Students participating in the research received a 2000 Won phone card as an incentive after they returned the packet of completed questionnaires.

Materials

            Questionnaires were made up that began with a basic description of the emotion, han, but without using the word, han.  The variables of target gender and age were manipulated within the description.  The description (Scenario) was:

“This person is a young woman (man) under the age of 25 (over the age of 50).  She (He) has a deep pain or regret because of an unavoidable circumstance. She (He) keeps holding this pain in her (his) heart.  She (he) has continued to experience the pain and regret for a long time, but she (he)  keeps it to herself (himself)  and does not directly express it to anyone.”

The first section of the questionnaire measured perceptions of the scenario.  The manipulation of the target was reinforced in the questions by using the phrase, “young woman,” “young man,” “middle aged woman” or “middle aged man” repeatedly. 

Descriptors.  The first item included a list of adjectives to which the participant was to indicate how strongly each described the scenario on a five point scale (1=very strongly to 5 = Not at all).  Examples of the adjectives include: anger, bitterness, fury, grief, happiness, patience, remorse, sadness.

Causal Attributions.  The next three items measured attributions for the cause of the unavoidable circumstance described in the scenario using a Likert scales to the person described, other people or the social situation.  The next item was a bipolar adjective scale that asked how much of the person’s suffering was the result of the circumstances versus not being unable to express the emotion.  Item 6 contained a list of possible circumstance that could cause suffering.  Examples of these circumstances are : Attack from an enemy, foreign domination,  loss of a child, restrictive social taboos, and unrequited love.   Participants rated each possible circumstance on its likelihood of producing the painful experience ( 1=Extremely likely to 5 = Not at All). 

Social Support.  Item 7 requested the participants to indicate how they felt each of a number of persons related to the target individual would contribute to the experience of suffering.  Examples of persons included on the list are mother, father, friend, co-worker, and close friend.  The response options were:  Directly caused the pain (1), Indirectly caused the pain (2), Not relevant to the pain (3),  Indirectly reduces the pain (4),  and Directly reduces the pain (5). 

Consequences.   Item 8 dealt with the consequences of suffering unexpressed pain over a long time period.  The respondents indicated how much each consequence was likely to result from not at all(1) to  very much (5).  Example of the consequences include:  Decreased energy, increased artistic appreciation, patience,  physical illness, spiritual strength,  and violent actions.

Resolution.   A list of methods of resolving the scenario comprised item 9.  Respondents indicated how much they thought each method would help in resolving the suffering from not at all help (1) to help very well (5).  Examples of resolution strategies include:  Change the situation, express the pain to a friend, meditation, psychotherapy, revenge, try to understand the experience better.

Reasons for Suppressing Emotion.  Item 10 included a list of reasons the person described in the scenario might not express the emotion, but rather hold the pain and suffering deep in her heart.  Some of the reasons measured were that a wish to burden others with his/her pain;  fear that communicating the suffering would make it worse; and shame for his/her weakness in the situation.  Participants rated each reason on a scale from not at all likely (1) to extremely likely (5).

Manipulation Checks.  Item 11 was a manipulation check that asked participants to estimate the age of the person described in the scenario.  The next four questions asked how similar the experienced described in the scenario was generally to that experience by young women, young men, middle aged women and middle aged men.  The response scale was Not at all (1) No (2) I don’t know (3) Yes (4) and Absolutely (5).

Personal Experience.  The next 6 items measured the participants’ self experiences similar to the scenario.   They were asked whether or not they had similar experiences (Item 16), if so to describe the emotion (Item 17), whether the emotion was resolved (item 18) and how (item 19); the results of the emotion (item 20) and whether the experienced strengthened their feelings of kinship with their ancestors (item 21) or with other Koreans of their generation (item 22)

Biographical Information.  The last questions measured the participant gender (Item 23), age (Item 24) and relationship to the student who had given them the questionnaire (Item 25).

Procedure

            Packets were made up each containing four questionnaires with the same scenario description and four envelopes for returning the questionnaires.  The packets were then randomized to assure random distribution of the four scenarios.  Student volunteers were recruited from a personality psychology class. Each student was instructed to take the packet home, to complete a questionnaire herself, and to ask her mother, father and a male relative near her own age to also complete a questionnaire.  Thus, all members of a family were in the same target gender x age condition. Each respondent was to seal the questionnaire into the envelop provided to assure the confidentiality of his or her responses.  One week following the distribution of the packets, all packets were returned to the class.  The students who returned the questionnaires completed were given a small token of appreciation for their cooperation (2000 Won phone card).