The idea of happiness varies from country to country

American researchers from the University of California, Riverside, have found that the idea of what happiness depends on the country in which people live and what culture they belong to. The scientific paper was published in the journal PLOS One.

Scientists write that in Western countries (mainly in the United States) the concept of happiness is based on an egocentric position in relation to the world - one that emphasizes personal persistence, hard work to obtain positive results. Happiness is seen there as a personal, independent achievement, a well-deserved reward. In addition, the concept is closely associated there with a high level of emotional excitement: happiness, as a rule, must be accompanied by the most joyful emotions.

However, such a definition does not apply to, say, Eastern countries. There (especially in Japan) happiness is not a phenomenon of individualism, but rather of collectivism - it depends on high-quality social relations. For example, the authors cite a study which found that Koreans are more likely than Americans to say the word "family" when asked about what happiness is. As for emotional excitement, it is not a priority compared to Western countries, as balance and harmony are given more weight there.

In this regard, scientists have suggested that there are several models of happiness, but none of them can be called appropriate for all people in the world.

They evaluated each of the two concepts for residents of different countries (not just Western or Eastern). The participants were more than 15,000 people, representatives of 63 nations and speakers of 42 languages.

Blue indicates the countries that participated in the study. Photo: phys.org

As a result, it turned out that the Eastern model of ideas about happiness is indeed suitable for people living in the countries of the East, and the Western model - for the inhabitants of the West. However, neither model is suitable for countries in Africa and the Middle East, for example.

Thus, the authors of the study confirmed the hypothesis that each culture has its own idea of happiness.

Dec. 14, 2020, 11:17 a.m.

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