Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 159–176 | Cite as

Positivity and the Construction of Life Satisfaction Judgments: Global Happiness is not the Sum of its Parts

  • Ed DienerEmail author
  • Christie K. Napa-Scollon
  • Shigehiro Oishi
  • Vivian Dzokoto
  • Eunkook Mark Suh


The present study investigated how reports of satisfaction with specific versus global domains can be used to assess a disposition towards positivity in subjective well-being reports. College students from 41 societies (N = 7167) completed measures of life satisfaction and ratings of global and specific aspects of their lives. For example, participants rated satisfaction with their education (global) and satisfaction with their professors, textbooks, and lectures (specific). It was hypothesized that global measures would more strongly reflect individual differences in dispositional positivity, that is, a propensity to evaluate aspects of life in general as good. At both the individual and national levels, positivity predicted life satisfaction beyond objective measures. Also, positivity was associated with norms about ideal life satisfaction such that countries and individuals who highly valued positive emotions were more likely to display positivity. The difference between more global versus more concrete measures of satisfaction can be used as an indirect and subtle measure of positivity.

life statisfaction positivity happiness subjective well-being culture positive affect norms. 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ed Diener
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christie K. Napa-Scollon
  • Shigehiro Oishi
  • Vivian Dzokoto
  • Eunkook Mark Suh
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of IllinoisChampaignUSA

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