Culture and Subjective Well-Being


The question of what constitutes the good life has been pondered for millennia. Yet only in the last decades has the study of well-being become a scientific endeavor. This book is based on the idea that we can empirically study quality of life and make cross-society comparisons of subjective well-being (SWB).

A potential problem in studying SWB across societies is that of cultural relativism: if societies have different values, the members of those societies will use different criteria in evaluating the success of their society. By examining, however, such aspects of SWB as whether people believe they are living correctly, whether they enjoy their lives, and whether others important to them believe they are living well, SWB can represent the degree to which people in a society are achieving the values they hold dear.

The contributors analyze SWB in relation to money, age, gender, democracy, and other factors. Among the interesting findings is that although wealthy nations are on average happier than poor ones, people do not get happier as a wealthy nation grows wealthier.

Table of Contents

  1. Contributors
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. I. Introduction
  4. 1. Measuring Subjective Well-being to Compare the Quality of Life of Cultures

    Ed Diener and Eunkook M. Suh

  5. 2. Cultural Syndromes and Subjective Well-being

    Harry C. Triandis

  6. 3. Individual Psychological Culture and Subjective Well-being

    Charlotte Ratzlaff, David Matsumoto, Natalia Kouznetsova, Jacques Raroque, and Rebecca Ray

  7. II. Cultural Differences in the Definition and Causes of Well-being
  8. 4. Self, the Hyphen between Culture and Subjective Well-being

    Eunkook M. Suh

  9. 5. Goals as Cornerstones of Subjective Well-being: Linking Individuals and Cultures

    Shigehiro Oishi

  10. 6. The Pursuit of Happiness and the Realization of Sympathy: Cultural Patterns of Self, Social Relations, and Well-being

    Shinobu Kitayama and Hazel Rose Markus

  11. III. Societal Conditions
  12. 7. Genes, Culture, Democracy, and Happiness

    Ronald Inglehart and Hans-Dieter Klingemann

  13. 8. Money and Happiness: Income and Subjective Well-being across Nations

    Ed Diener and Shigehiro Oishi

  14. 9. National Differences in Micro and Macro Worry: Social, Economic, and Cultural Explanations

    Shalom H. Schwartz and Gila Melech

  15. 10. Freedom and Happiness: A Comparative Study in Forty-four Nations in the Early 1990s

    Ruut Veenhoven

  16. IV. Individual Differences
  17. 11. Age and Sex Differences in Subjective Well-being across Cultures

    Richard E. Lucas and Carol L. Gohm

  18. 12. Perceived Control and Subjective Well-being across Nations and across the Life Span

    Alexander Grob

  19. Index