Social Indicators Research

, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 351-362

First online:

What Makes You Happy?: A Comparison of Self-reported Criteria of Happiness Between Two Cultures

  • Dong Yul LeeAffiliated withUniversity of Western Ontario
  • , Sung Hee ParkAffiliated withNational College of Education
  • , Max R. UhlemannAffiliated withUniversity of Victoria
  • , Philip PatsultAffiliated withUniversity of Ottawa

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Based on the cross-cultural psychosocial notion of individualism and collectivism, comparisons between two contrasting cultures with regard to the criteria for avowed happiness were made. The Happiness Questionnaire, which contains four open-ended questions (e.g., “What makes you happy?”), and two objective items assessing the level of perceived happiness were administered to Canadian and Korean students. The responses to the four questions were content-analyzed along 14 categories. Comparisons of the proportions in each of the 14 categories revealed that, although the students from the two cultures differed in their absolute level of perceived happiness, they seemed to employ essentially the same ordered set of criteria in expressing their avowed happiness.