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      Lay Definitions of Happiness across Nations: The Primacy of Inner Harmony and Relational Connectedness

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          In well-being research the term happiness is often used as synonymous with life satisfaction. However, little is known about lay people's understanding of happiness. Building on the available literature, this study explored lay definitions of happiness across nations and cultural dimensions, analyzing their components and relationship with participants' demographic features. Participants were 2799 adults (age range = 30–60, 50% women) living in urban areas of Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, Hungary, India, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, and United States. They completed the Eudaimonic and Hedonic Happiness Investigation (EHHI), reporting, among other information, their own definition of happiness. Answers comprised definitions referring to a broad range of life domains, covering both the contextual-social sphere and the psychological sphere. Across countries and with little variation by age and gender, inner harmony predominated among psychological definitions, and family and social relationships among contextual definitions. Whereas relationships are widely acknowledged as basic happiness components, inner harmony is substantially neglected. Nevertheless, its cross-national primacy, together with relations, is consistent with the view of an ontological interconnectedness characterizing living systems, shared by several conceptual frameworks across disciplines and cultures. At the methodological level, these findings suggest the potential of a bottom-up, mixed method approach to contextualize psychological dimensions within culture and lay understanding.

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              Cultural variation in affect valuation.

              The authors propose that how people want to feel ("ideal affect") differs from how they actually feel ("actual affect") and that cultural factors influence ideal more than actual affect. In 2 studies, controlling for actual affect, the authors found that European American (EA) and Asian American (AA) individuals value high-arousal positive affect (e.g., excitement) more than do Hong Kong Chinese (CH). On the other hand, CH and AA individuals value low-arousal positive affect (e.g., calm) more than do EA individuals. For all groups, the discrepancy between ideal and actual affect correlates with depression. These findings illustrate the distinctiveness of ideal and actual affect, show that culture influences ideal affect more than actual affect, and indicate that both play a role in mental health. Copyright 2006 APA, all rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                26 January 2016
                : 7
                1Department of Pathophysiology and Transplantation, University of Milano Milan, Italy
                2Department of Psychology, University of Rijeka Rijeka, Croatia
                3Africa Unit for Transdisciplinary Health Research, North-West University Potchefstroom, South Africa
                4School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities, University of São Paulo São Paulo, Brazil
                5Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad De Palermo Buenos Aires, Argentina
                6Department of Applied Psychology, School of Psychology, University of Minho Braga, Portugal
                7Estudios Sobre Equidad y Genero and FES-Iztacala, Unidad de Investigación Interdisciplinaria en Ciencias de la Salud y la Educación, Proyecto Aprendizaje Humano, Centro Regional de Investigaciones Multidisciplinarias, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México Cuevarnaca, Mexico
                8School of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington Wellington, New Zealand
                9Institute of Mental Health, Semmelweis University Budapest, Hungary
                10Department of Psychology, University of Oslo Oslo, Norway
                11Department of Psychology, Claremont Graduate University Claremont, CA, USA
                12Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi New Delhi, India
                13Anugraha Institute of Social Sciences, Madurai Kamaraj University Dindigul, India
                Author notes

                Edited by: Andrew Ryder, Concordia University, Canada

                Reviewed by: Glenn Adams, University of Kansas, USA; Marina M. Doucerain, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada

                *Correspondence: Antonella Delle Fave antonella.dellefave@

                This article was submitted to Cultural Psychology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

                Copyright © 2016 Delle Fave, Brdar, Wissing, Araujo, Castro Solano, Freire, Hernández-Pozo, Jose, Martos, Nafstad, Nakamura, Singh and Soosai-Nathan.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 8, Equations: 0, References: 97, Pages: 23, Words: 16989
                Funded by: University of Rijeka, Croatia
                Award ID: project
                Funded by: Victoria University of Wellington 10.13039/501100001538
                Funded by: National Research Foundation 10.13039/501100001321
                Funded by: Department of Psychology, Claremont Graduate University, USA
                Funded by: Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia 10.13039/501100001871
                Original Research


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