Culture & control: Effects on health and wellbeing


Control is linked to cultural perspectives and to health and wellbeing. One aspect of control is the perception of personal control and power over one’s own destiny, which has a major influence on the health, work and leisure decisions of every individual. For example, it determines whether a person feels able to apply for work, move their family to another country to find work, to attend a healthcare clinic, or to decide to take their own life to end suffering. Moreover, feeling ‘in control’ is considered by some to be the hallmark of healthy psychological functioning. However, the role of culture requires exploration in this domain.  

This is important, not least because healthcare policies in European countries emphasise enabling under represented groups, including migrant and marginalised groups, to access health and psychological services, as cultural variables affect access. However, policy implementation is based on theoretical models of mental health and help seeking for example, which include a key role for perceived control but in which the effects of culture are not properly understood. Thus, this project explores relationships between culture, control and wellbeing in order to better understand their interaction.

Collaborators in this work include Robin Murphy, Diana Kornbrot, Helena Matute, Orla Muldoon and Stephen Gallagher and colleagues at the Centre for Social Issues Research at the University of Limerick.

See slides from Rachel Msetfi’s talk on Culture, control and mental health

Relevant publications:

Msetfi, R.M., Kornbrot, D. E., Matute, H. & Murphy, R. A. (2015). The Effects of Individualist and Collectivist Values on Perceived Control and Mood State. Frontiers in Psychology,6, 1430. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01430

Aneela Pilkington’s thesis research: PilkingtonMsetfi2012.pdf and our discussion paper in Clinical Psychology Forum: PilkingtonMsetfi2012Forum_p42.pdf