Advertisement

Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 151–175 | Cite as

Happiness: Meaning and Determinants Among Young Adults of the Igbos of Eastern Nigeria

  • Aaron Adibe AgboEmail author
  • Blessing Ome
Research Paper

Abstract

The present study explored the constituents of lay conceptions of happiness and its determinants among young adults of the Igbos of Eastern Nigeria. Participants were asked to define happiness and outline the things they think make people happy. Analyses of the responses revealed that participants defined happiness with words reflecting both affect and cognitive evaluation of life. Positive affect words dominated the definitions followed by words reflecting cognitive evaluation of life. Interestingly, participants were more likely to define happiness with focus on the self than with focus on the other, which is contrary to seeming suggestions in literature that non-Western societies view happiness from communalistic perspectives. Significant gender differences occurred in line with findings that females are more likely to express interdependent views of happiness while males usually take individualistic route. Participation, affection, and leisure needs topped participants’ descriptions of the things that make people happy. Interesting relationships emerged among the variables with some contradicting and others confirming previous findings. Implications and limitations of findings were discussed. Suggestions for further studies were also made.

Keywords

Culture Meaning of happiness Determinants of happiness Igbo people of Nigeria 

References

  1. Agbo, A. A., Nzeadibe, T. C., & Ajaero, C. K. (2012). Happiness in Nigeria: A socio-cultural analysis. In H. Selin & G. Davey (Eds.), Happiness across cultures: Views of happiness and quality of life in non-Western cultures (pp. 293–310). Netherland: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Awolowo, O. (1947). Path to Nigerian freedom. London: Faber and Faber.Google Scholar
  3. Bagozzi, R. P., Wong, N., & Yi, Y. (1999). The role of culture and gender in the relationship between positive and negative affect. Cognition and Emotion, 13, 641–672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Benet-Martínez, V., & Karakitapoglu-Aygün, Z. (2003). The interplay of cultural syndromes and personality in predicting life satisfaction comparing Asian Americans and European Americans. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 34, 38–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bojanowska, A., & Zalewska, A. M. (2015). Lay understanding of happiness and the experience of well-being: Are some conceptions of happiness more beneficial than others? Journal of Happiness Studies. doi: 10.1007/s10902-015-9620-1.Google Scholar
  6. Brautigan, D. (1997). Substituting the state: institution and industrial development in Eastern Nigeria. World Development, 25, 1063–1080.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen, F. F., Jing, Y., Hayes, A., & Lee, J. M. (2012). Two concepts of two approaches? A bifactor analysis of psychological and subjective well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies. doi: 10.1007/s10902-012-9367-x.Google Scholar
  8. Costanza, R., Fisher, B., Ali, S., Beer, C., Bond, L., Boumans, R., et al. (2007). Quality of life: An approach integrating opportunities, human needs, and subjective well-being. Ecological Economics, 61, 267–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cronje, S. (1972). The world and Nigeria. London: Sidgwick and Jackson.Google Scholar
  10. D’raven, L. L., & Pasha-Zaidi, N. (2015). Using the PERMA model in the United Arab Emirates. Social Indicators Research. doi: 10.1007/s11205-015-0866-0.Google Scholar
  11. Darwin, M., Egerton, W., Falconer, D., & Kiston, A. E. (1913). Southern Nigeria: Some considerations of its structure, people, and natural history: Discussion. The Geographical Journal, 41, 34–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Delle Fave, A., Brdar, I., Freire, T., Vella-Brodrick, D., & Wissing, M. P. (2011). The eudaimonic and hedonic components of happiness: Qualitative and quantitative findings. Social Indicators Research, 100, 185–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95, 542–575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Diener, E. (2000). Subjective well-being: The science of happiness and a proposal for a national index. American Psychologist, 55(1), 34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Diener, E., & Suh, E. M. (2000). Culture and subjective well-being. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  16. D’raven, L. L., & Pasha-Zaidi, N. (2014). Happiness in the United Arab Emirates: conceptualisations of happiness among Emirati and other Arab students. International Journal of Happiness and Development, 2, 1–21.Google Scholar
  17. Eid, M., & Diener, E. (2001). Norms for experiencing emotions in different cultures: inter- and intranational differences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 869.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fischer, A. H., Rodriguez Mosquera, P. M., Van Vianen, A. E., & Manstead, A. S. (2004). Gender and culture differences in emotion. Emotion, 4, 87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Guimond, S., Armand, C., Delphine, M., Richard, J. C., & Sandrine, R. (2006). Social compaison, self-stereotyping, and gender differences in self-construals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 221–242.Google Scholar
  21. Hayes, A. F. (2009). Beyond Baron and Kenny: Statistical mediation analysis in the new millennium. Communication Monographs, 76, 408–420. doi: 10.1080/03637750903310360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Henderson, L. W., & Knight, T. (2012). Integrating the hedonic and eudaimonic perspectives to more comprehensively understand wellbeing and pathways to wellbeing. International Journal of Wellbeing, 2, 196–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Huta, V., & Ryan, R. M. (2010). Pursuing pleasure or virtue: The differential and overlapping well-being benefits of hedonic and euadaimonic motives. Journal of Happiness, 11, 735–762.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Huta, V., & Waterman, A. S. (2014). Eudaimonia and its distinction from hedonia: Developing a classification and terminology for understanding conceptual and operational definitions. Journal of Happiness Studies, 15, 1425–1456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ip, P. K. (2011). Concepts of Chinese folk happiness. Social Indicators Research, 104, 459–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Joshanloo, M., & Weijers, D. (2014). Aversion to happiness across cultures: A review of where and why people are averse to happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies, 15, 717–735.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kashdan, T. B., Biswas-Diener, R., & King, L. A. (2008). Reconsidering happiness: The costs of distinguishing between hedonics and eudaimonia. Journal of Positive Psychology, 3, 219–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Keyes, C. L., Fredrickson, B. L., & Park, N. (2012). Positive psychology and the quality of life. In K. C. Land, et al. (Eds.), Handbook of social indicators and quality of life research (pp. 99–112). Netherlands: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Keyes, C. L. M., Shmotkin, D., & Ryff, C. D. (2002). Optimizing well-being: The empirical encounter of two traditions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 1007–1022.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kitayama, S., Mesquita, B., & Karasawa, M. (2006). Cultural affordances and emotional experience: socially engaging and disengaging emotions in Japan and the United States. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 890.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Korieh, C. J. (2006). African ethnicity as mirage? Historicizing the essence of the Igbo in Africa and the Atlantic diaspora. Dialectical Anthropology, 30, 91–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Layous, K., Lee, H., Coi, I., & Lymbomirsky, S. (2013). Culture matters when designing a successful happiness-increasing activity: A comparison of the United States and South Korea. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 44, 1294–1303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lu, L. (2001). Understanding happiness: A look into the Chinese folk psychology. Journal of Happiness Studies, 2, 407–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lu, L., & Gilmour, R. (2004). Culture and conceptions of happiness: Individual oriented and social oriented SWB. Journal of Happiness Studies, 5, 269–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005a). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 803–855.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005b). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9, 111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McMahan, E. A., & Estes, D. (2011). Measuring lay conceptions of well-being: The beliefs about well-being scale. Journal of Happiness Studies, 12, 267–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. McMahan, E. A., & Estes, D. (2012). Age-related differences in lay conceptions of well-being and experienced well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13, 79–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. National Bureau for Statistics (NBS). (2010). National Literacy Survey. Available at www.nigeriastat.gov.ng.
  40. National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). (2014). The Nigeria Poverty Profile 2014 Report. National Bureau of Statistics, Abuja.Google Scholar
  41. Oishi, S., & Diener, E. (2014). Can and should happiness be a policy goal? Policy Insights from the Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 1, 195–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Oishi, S., Graham, J., Kesebir, S., & Galinha, I. C. (2013). Concepts of happiness across time and cultures. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39, 559–577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Oishi, S., & Schimmack, U. (2010). Culture and well-being: A new inquiry into the psychological wealth of nations. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5, 463–471.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Oyserman, D., Coon, H., & Kemmelmeier, M. (2002). Rethinking individualism and collectivism: Evaluation of theoretical assumptions and meta-analyses. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 3–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Peng, K., & Nisbett, R. E. (1999). Culture, dialectics, and reasoning about contradiction. American Psychologist, 54, 741–754.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A classification and handbook. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  47. Pflug, J. (2009). Folk theories of happiness: A cross-cultural comparison of conceptions of happiness in Germany and South Africa. Social Indicators Research, 92, 551–563.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Raibley, J. R. (2012). Happiness is not well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13, 1105–1129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 68–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2001). On happiness and human potentials: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 141–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological wellbeing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 1069–1081.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Safdar, S., Friedlmeier, W., Matsumoto, D., Yoo, S. H., Kwantes, C. T., Kakai, H., & Shigemasu, E. (2009). Variations of emotional display rules within and across cultures: A comparison between Canada, USA, and Japan. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 41, 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sastre, M. T. M. (1999). Lay conceptions of well-being and rules used in well-being judgements among young, middle-aged, and elderly adults. Social Indicators Research, 47, 203–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Schimmack, U. (2007). Methodological issues in the assessment of the affective component of subjective well-being. In A. Ong & M. H. M. van Dulmen (Eds.), Oxford handbook of methods in positive psychology (pp. 96–110). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Schimmack, U., Oishi, S., Diener, E., & Suh, E. (2000). Facets of affective experiences: A framework for investigations of trait affect. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 655–668.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Schimmack, U., Radhakrishnan, P., Oishi, S., Dzokoto, V., & Ahadi, S. (2002). Culture, personality, and subjective well-being: integrating process models of life satisfaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 582–593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Schmitt, D. P., Realo, A., Voracek, M., & Allik, J. (2008). Why can’t a man be more like a woman? Sex differences in Big Five personality traits across 55 cultures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94, 168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Seligman, M. (2002). Authentic happiness: Using the new positive psychology to realize your potential for lasting fulfilment. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  59. Seligman, M. (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  60. Stavrova, O., Fetchenhauer, D., & Schlösser, T. (2013). Why are religious people happy? The effect of the social norm of religiosity across countries. Social Science Research, 42, 90–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Suh, E., Diener, E., Oishi, S., & Triandis, H. C. (1998). The shifting basis of life satisfaction judgments across cultures: Emotions versus norms. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Suh, E. M., & Koo, J. (2008). Comparing subjective well-being across cultures and nations: The “what” and “why” questions. In M. Eid & R. J. Larsen (Eds.), The science of subjective well-being (pp. 414–427). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  63. Tov, W., & Diener, E. (2007). Culture and subjective well-being. In S. Kitayama & D. Cohen (Eds.), Handbook of cultural psychology (pp. 691–713). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  64. Uchida, Y., Norasakkunkit, V., & Kitayama, S. (2004). Cultural constructions of happiness: Theory and empirical evidence. Journal of Happiness Studies, 5, 223–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Uchida, Y., & Ogihara, Y. (2012). Personal or interpersonal construal of happiness: A cultural psychological perspective. International Journal of Wellbeing, 2, 354–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Veenhoven, R. (2008). Healthy happiness: Effects of happiness on physical health and the consequences for preventive health care. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9, 449–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Veenhoven, R. (2012). Does happiness differ across cultures? In H. Selin & G. Davey (Eds.), Happiness across cultures (pp. 451–472). Netherlands: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Waterman, A. S. (1993). Two conceptions of happiness—contrasts of personal expressiveness (eudaimonia) and hedonic enjoyment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64, 678–691.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wong, Y. J., Ho, R. M., Li, P., Shin, M., & Tsai, P. C. (2011). Chinese Singaporeans’ lay beliefs, adherence to Asian values, and subjective well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 50, 822–827.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of NigeriaNsukkaNigeria

Personalised recommendations