Social Indicators Research

, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 351–362

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


  • Dong Yul Lee
    • University of Western Ontario
  • Sung Hee Park
    • National College of Education
  • Max R. Uhlemann
    • University of Victoria
  • Philip Patsult
    • University of Ottawa

DOI: 10.1023/A:1004647517069

Cite this article as:
Lee, D.Y., Park, S.H., Uhlemann, M.R. et al. Social Indicators Research (2000) 50: 351. doi:10.1023/A:1004647517069


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.

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000