Ignore those twinges of cynicism and embrace your inner patriot this weekend, as studies regularly show that nationalism makes people happy.
However, how happy you feel also depends on what you’re taking pride in, noted researchers earlier this year.
In a report for Psychological Science, Matthew Wright, a political scientist at American University, and Tim Reeskens, a sociologist from Catholic University in Belgium found that more national pride correlated with greater personal wellbeing.
But they also noticed that those individuals who connected nationalism with respect for a country’s institutions and values, rather than race or religion, were the most content.
Reeskens and Wright divided people who felt national pride into two categories: ethnic nationalists and civic nationalists.
Ethnic nationalists saw ancestry—typically expressed in racial or religious terms—as key to defining their sense of identity. Whereas civic nationalists required only respect for a country’s institutions and laws to gain a sense of belonging.
According to a statement, the researchers found that ‘civic nationalists’ were on the whole happier than any other kind of patriot.
Wright explained: “It’s fine to say pride in your country makes you happy - but what kind of pride are we talking about? That turns out to make a lot of difference.”
The authors analyzed the responses of 40,677 individuals from 31 countries, drawn from the 2008 wave of the cross-national European Values Study.
They found that the wellbeing of the proudest ethnic nationalists’ barely surpassed that of people with the lowest level of civic pride.
“There’s been a renaissance of arguments from political theorists and philosophers that a strong sense of national identity has payoffs in terms of social cohesion, which bolsters support for welfare and other redistributive policies,” says Wright.
“We’ve finally gotten around to testing these theories.”
The conclusion: “You have to look at how people define their pride.”
Kenya army soldiers during a march past at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya Friday, June 1, 2012, to attend the 49th Madaraka Day or Independence from British rule celebrations (Photo credit: AP Photo Sayyid Azim)
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Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) members conduct a mock assault on 'terror suspects' inside a building, during skills demonstration at a police camp in suburban Manila on June 1, 2012. The PNP-SAF is an elite unit of the country's police force, trained for counter-terrorism and search and rescue operations. (Photo credit: JAY DIRECTO/AFP/GettyImages)
A hostess stands outside a restaurant in Beijing on June 1, 2012. China's export-driven economy has begun to slow this year, with growth falling to 8.1 percent in the first quarter from 9.2 percent in the same period in 2011, as woes in key European and US markets hit overseas sales. (Photo credit: Ed Jones/AFP/GettyImages)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends a wreath laying ceremony at the Victory Square in Minsk, on June 1, 2012. Putin arrived yesterday in isolated Belarus for his first foreign trip since returning to the Kremlin, a visit highlighting the priorities of his historic third term. (Photo credit: VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/GettyImages)
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Mounted soldiers march away from the Houses of Parliament during a full dress rehearsal of a carriage procession between Westminster Hall and Buckingham Palace on June 1, 2012 ahead of the weekend's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. The event began at 05:00 BST on June 1 and saw roads in central London closed off for the rehearsal of the June 5 carriage procession to celebrate 60 years since Britain's Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne. (Photo credit: MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/GettyImages)
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A torchbearer carries the Olympic Flame on the Torch Relay leg between Chorley and Croston. (Photo credit: PA)