, Volume 72, Issue 3, pp 403-430

An Investigation into the Cross-Cultural Equivalence of the Personal Wellbeing Index

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Abstract

The Personal Wellbeing Index (PWI) is being developed for the cross-cultural measurement of subjective wellbeing (SWB). This paper reports the findings of its utility with the Hong Kong Chinese and Australian populations. An item on affect, ‘satisfaction with own happiness’ was also investigated to determine whether it should be added to the index. Three-hundred and sixty participants (180 per country), with equal representation from groups aged 18–35, 35–64 and 65 years and above, were recruited from each country. The PWI demonstrated good psychometric performance in terms of its reliability, validity and sensitivity, which are comparable in both countries. The item ‘satisfaction with own happiness’ was found to contribute significantly to the scale’s psychometric performance in Australia but not in Hong Kong. Cultural differences in the perception of the concepts ‘satisfaction’ and ‘happiness’ were suggested as an explanation for this finding. The PWI data are also consistent with homeostasis theory, which proposes that each person’s SWB level is maintained within a limited positive range. For the Australian population, their mean SWB level fell within the established Western range of 70–80, on a scale from 0 to 100. The Hong Kong population, however, fell below this range. Cultural response bias was identified as a plausible explanation for the differences between the Hong Kong and Australian samples.