Why are some people wary of being happy? Researchers say that it is often because of the long-held belief that happiness causes bad things to happen.
The study by Mohsen Joshanloo and Dan Weijers of the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand is the first to review the concept of aversion to happiness.
It looked at why various cultures react differently to feelings of well-being and satisfaction.
"One of these cultural phenomena is that, for some individuals, happiness is not a supreme value," explained Joshanloo and Weijers in their review.
The researchers believe that being raised in a culture that does not value happiness could encourage a person to back away from it.
However, an aversion to happiness exists in both Western and non-Western cultures, although happiness is more valued in the West.
In American culture, it is almost taken for granted that happiness is one of the most important values guiding people's lives.
Western cultures are more driven by an urge to maximise happiness and minimise sadness. Failing to appear happy is often a cause for concern.
In contrast, in non-Western cultures, it is a less valued emotion.
The ideals of harmony and conformity are often at odds with the pursuit of personal happiness and the endorsement of individualistic values, said the review published in Springer's Journal of Happiness Studies.
"Many individuals and cultures do tend to be averse to some forms of happiness, especially when taken to the extreme, for many different reasons," the researchers said.