Insight Into the Hispanic Paradox: The Language Hypothesis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Hispanics have a lower burden of heart disease than would be predicted from their risk factors. Explanations for this phenomenon, the Hispanic paradox, focus on specific characteristics of the culture that affect stress appraisal and accumulation, including social connections. Features of culture evolve in the context of language, which influences the way emotions are appraised and expressed. The Spanish language, a unifying component defining Hispanic cultures, has unique features that may promote emotional expression, expand the emotional concepts implicated in the construction of emotion, and influence the appraisal of stress. Under chronic stress conditions, sustained responses can become maladaptive, leading to disease. Features of the Spanish language allow its speakers a wide range of emotion schemas by virtue of its emotion lexicon, the ability to easily minimize or exaggerate expressions, and ease in considering hypothetical situations with the use of the subjunctive. The hypothesis here proposes that the Spanish language is directly and indirectly (via culture) responsible for mitigating some of the effects of acute stress responses in Hispanics and, therefore, limits stress accumulation and is partly responsible for the Hispanic paradox.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Hispanic paradox
  • Spanish language
  • cardiovascular reactivity
  • emotional expression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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