Social Indicators Research

, Volume 99, Issue 3, pp 443–453 | Cite as

Does Individual Secularism Promote Life Satisfaction? The Moderating Role of Societal Development

  • Liman Man Wai LiEmail author
  • Michael H. Bond


This study was designed to examine the link between values and life satisfaction, examining the role of culture in this process. Secularism was found to predict life satisfaction scores at a small but statistically very significant level in persons from all nations participating in all four waves of the World Values Survey. The direction and strength of this relationship was moderated, however, by the country’s human development index—people in low-HDI countries consistently showed a negative relationship between secularism and happiness across the four waves of the WVS; people in high-HDI countries initially showed a negative relationship between secularism and happiness in Waves 1 and 2, but a positive relationship between secularism and happiness in Waves 3 and 4. These results thus appear to support a “cultural fit” hypothesis consistently for persons in low HDI countries, and a transition towards a “cultural fit” for persons in HDI countries as data was collected across the four waves. By Wave 4, it is clear that citizens who endorse values consistent with their county’s developmental trajectory are more satisfied with their lives. This study demonstrates the amenability of the data collected by the World Values Survey to individual-level analysis of psychological process that is responsive to the shaping influence of variations in their nation’s societal characteristics.


Life satisfaction Secular values Subjective well-being Human development index 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyChinese University of Hong KongHong Kong, S.A.R.China
  2. 2.Department of Applied Social SciencesHong Kong Polytechnic UniversityHong KongChina

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