Subjective Well-Being's Association with Beneficial Behavioral Outcomes in Three Cultures

Sim, Jing Han, Psychology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Diener, Ed, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia

In two studies, we explored the association between components of subjective well-being (positive affect, negative affect, life satisfaction, and optimism) and behavioral outcomes in three cultures: The United States, South Korea, and Costa Rica. We found in both studies that subjective well-being was associated with six types of behaviors: 1. Health behaviors, 2. Prosocial behavior, 3. Expressing happiness, 4. Good citizenship behaviors, 5. Creativity, and 6. Active behaviors. Most of the associations were significantly above zero in all three nations, and the majority were not significantly different between nations. In terms of the components of subjective well-being that best predicted the outcomes, positive affect was consistently the strongest predictor of outcomes across the three cultures. We also found that current affect was a stronger predictor of desire to do the behaviors than was long-term affect in all three nations. The associations could not be explained by beliefs about the desirability and functionality of emotions. Sex, age, education, and income did not explain the associations Although subjective well-being is associated with beneficial outcomes in all three cultures we studied, further research is required to understand why this is so, and in particular whether the causal arrow goes from subjective well-being to those behaviors, and when it moves in the reverse direction. Our findings show that many beneficial behaviors are associated with subjective well-being across several diverse cultures.

MA (Master of Arts)
subjective well-being
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