Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Just Say No to Christmas Displays?

If you tend to like any and all things celebrating the Christmas spirit, this study may be a bit of a downer. Apparently, Christmas displays reduce feelings of well-being and positive mood in people who don't celebrate the holiday. (I know, I know, if your first reaction is anything like mine, it's – they actually did a study on this?! Seriously?) But I kid you not, here's the abstract: 
In two experiments we examined the differential psychological consequences of being in the presence of a Christmas display on participants who did or did not celebrate Christmas (Study 1), or who identified as Christian, Buddhist, or Sikh (Study 2). Participants completed measures of psychological well-being in a cubicle that either did or did not contain a small Christmas display. Across several indicators of well-being, the display harmed non-celebrators and non-Christians, but enhanced well-being for celebrators and Christians. In Study 2, we found that the negative effect of the display on non-Christians was mediated by reduced feelings of inclusion. The results raise concerns about the ubiquitous presence of dominant cultural symbols (such as Christmas displays) in culturally diverse societies. 
No, I don't think we need to go out and immediately eradicate all Christmas displays. But the study does challenge a few assumptions about the harmlessness of certain symbols in public spaces.

But, since
Happy Holidays has a kind of empty ring to it, I'm still going to go ahead and say – all positive feelings and good cheer intended – Merry Christmas! 


  1. Instead of being political correct and considering immediately eradicate all Christmas displays, one should think of inviting the outsiders to participate. Their negative reaction to the symbols of christmas probably stems from not being a part of a wonderful thing? We should enjoy and share our differences instead of putting them away. Pluralism is beautiful.
    Merry Christmas to all!

  2. Unfortunately, symbols of any one cultural group are a force of identity and togetherness for those within the group and, simultaneously and necessarily, distance and isolation from those not in that group. This is clear and simple, functional fact, no matter how it is spun. Pluralism does not resolve this.