Is Subjective Ill-Being Related to Islamophobia in Germany? In Search for Moderators


Is subjective ill-being, defined as the inverse of subjective well-being, related to Islamophobia in Germany? We conducted a study guided by two goals to answer this question. The first goal was to test the hypothesis that subjective ill-being is associated with Islamophobia. The second goal, contingent on the results of testing for the association between subjective ill-being and Islamophobia, was to test a set of variables presumed to moderate this relationship—positive and negative contact with Muslims, right-wing political views, political participation, the importance of political life, and cultural diversity orientation. Data from the GESIS Panel, a probability-based panel representative of the German-speaking population aged between 18 and 70 years permanently residing in Germany, were used to test the study hypotheses. The data provided support for the hypothesis that subjective ill-being is indeed associated with Islamophobia in Germany (r = .12, p < .01). The data provided support for only one of the moderator hypothesis, namely cultural diversity orientation. Specifically, the data showed that the relationship between subjective ill-being and Islamophobia is stronger for those who have low (rather than high) cultural diversity orientation.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    Ed Diener, the father of the subjective well-being movement, defines subjective well-being as a broad category of phenomena that includes a preponderance of positive over negative emotions, satisfaction with life domains (satisfaction in work life, social life, family life, etc.), and global judgments of life satisfaction (Diener and Tov 2012).

  2. 2.

    Subjective ill-being in our study is treated as the inverse of subjective well-being. That is, subjective ill-being is the other polar end of subjective well-being. Although there is debate in the subjective well-being literature about the distinction between subjective well-being and ill-being as being two distinct factors (e.g., Headey et al. 1984), we agree with those scholars who argue that the distinction between mental well-being and ill-being is counterproductive (e.g., Wood and Joseph 2010). In essence, subjective well-being should not be treated as a construct independent from subjective ill-being. A continuum approach should be used in conceptualizing both subjective well-being and ill-being, with positive functioning as one polar end of the continuum and negative functioning at the other end.

  3. 3.

    Sections dbaw, dbbd, dcbi, dczy, dbbd, and dcbi according to the codebook of the GESIS Panel, which can be retrieved via

  4. 4.

    German citizenship does not reflect religious faith. The GESIS Panel does not include survey items related to religious faith because, under German law, such data require special data protection.

  5. 5.

    With regard to categorical variables, t test and ANOVA tests were conducted to identify the relationships between categorical and continuous variables.


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Correspondence to M. Joseph Sirgy.



Results of regression and moderation analyses (outcome: islamophobia)

HypothesisPredictorsCoefficientSEtp95% CI
H2Constant.350.3171.102.271− .273.973
 Subj. ill-being.079.0253.
 Positive contact− .307.028− 10.878.000− .363− .252
 Subj. Ill-being × positive contact.032.0251.303.193− .016.081
 Age− .002.002− 1.158.247− .007.002
 Marital status.011.030.350.726− .049.070
 Gender− .240.052− 4.578.000− .342− .137
 Education− .062.013− 4.737.000− .088− .036
 Citizenship status.103.0851.216.224− .063.269
 Living standard.161.0413.880.000.080.242
 Social welfare.− .206.259
 R2 = .232, F = 24.647, df = 10, 814, p = .0000
H3Constant− .111.329− .336.737− .757.536
 Subj. ill-being.056.0262.
 negative contact.277.0436.378.000.192.362
 Subj. Ill-being × negative contact.051.0321.586.113− .012.114
 Age.003.0021.282.200− .002.007
 Marital status.− .055.068
 gender− .171.055− 3.137.002− .278− .064
 Education− .070.014− 5.142.000− .096− .043
 Citizenship status.− .161.184
 Living standard.172.0434.
 Social welfare.127.1241.031.303− .115.370
 R2 = .170, F = 16.598, df = 10, 813, p = .0000
 Subj. ill-being.079.0155.335.000.050.108
 Right-wing view.598.02227.446.000.555.641
 Subj. Ill-being × right-wing view− .020.018− 1.134.257− .056.015
 Age− .005.001− 3.839.000− .007− .002
 Marital status.020.0181.156.248− .014.055
 Gender− .132.030− 4.327.000− .191− .072
 Education− .028.008− 3.548.000− .043− .012
 Citizenship status.130.0522.507.012.028.231
 Living standard.050.0242.
 Social welfare− .058.069− .852.394− .193.076
 R2 = .248, F = 99.019, df = 10, 2996, p = .0000
H5Constant.312.2051.519.129− .091.714
 Subj. ill-being.071.0164.356.000.039.103
 Politically activeness− .294.047− 6.290.000− .385− .202
 Subj. Ill-being × politically activeness.053.0331.628.104− .011.117
 Age− .001.001− .851.395− .004.002
 Marital status.025.0191.280.201− .013.063
 Gender− .139.033− 4.171.000− .204− .074
 Education− .069.008− 8.208.000− .085− .052
 Citizenship status.131.0532.452.014.026.236
 Living standard.101.0263.812.000.049.152
 Social welfare− .024.074− .326.745− .170.121
 R2 = .069, F = 23.109, df = 10, 3131, p = .0000
H6Constant.271.2071.305.192− .136.677
 Subj. ill-being.070.0164.
 Importance on political life− .122.024− 5.001.000− .170− .074
 Subj. Ill-being × importance on political life− .034.020− 1.756.079− .073.004
 Age.− .002.003
 Marital status.022.0191.153.249− .016.061
 Gender− .164.034− 4.856.000− .231− .098
 Education− .069.008− 8.126.000− .085− .052
 Citizenship status.139.0542.576.010.033.244
 Living standard.094.0273.534.000.042.147
 Social welfare− .019.075− .256.798− .166.128
 R2 = .068, F = 22.488, df = 10, 3014, p = .0000

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Sirgy, M.J., Kim, M.Y., Joshanloo, M. et al. Is Subjective Ill-Being Related to Islamophobia in Germany? In Search for Moderators. J Happiness Stud 20, 2655–2675 (2019) doi:10.1007/s10902-018-0063-3

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  • Islamophobia
  • subjective well-being
  • National well-being
  • Prejudice against Muslim immigrants
  • Discrimination against Muslim immigrants
  • Islam