Skip to main content
Palgrave Macmillan
Book cover

An Interdependent Approach to Happiness and Well-Being

  • Book
  • Open Access
  • © 2024

You have full access to this open access Book


  • Outlines a mode of well-being different from globally dominant European and American models
  • Argues that an interdependent approach is a more sustainable, forward-looking pathway to well-being
  • Draws together research on interdependence from cultural psychology, comparative sociology, philosophy, and education
  • This book is open access, which means that you have free and unlimited access.

Buy print copy

Hardcover Book USD 32.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Table of contents (7 chapters)


About this book

This open access book examines an interdependent approach to happiness and well-being, one that contrasts starkly with dominant approaches that have originated from Western culture(s). It highlights the diversity of potential pathways towards happiness and well-being globally, and answers calls - voiced in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals - for more socially and environmentally sustainable models.

Leading global organizations including the OECD, UNICEF, and UNESCO are now proposing human happiness and well-being as a more sustainable alternative to a myopic focus on GDP growth. Yet, the definition of well-being offered by these organizations derives largely from the philosophies, social sciences, and institutional patterns of Europe and the United States. Across seven chapters this book carefully probes the inadequacy of these approaches to well-being globally and reveals the distorting effect this has on how we imagine our world, organize institutions, and plan ourcollective future(s). It shares a wealth of evidence and examples from across East Asia - a region where interdependence remains foregrounded - and concludes by provocatively arguing that interdependence may provide a more sustainable approach to happiness and well-being in the 21st century. A timely and accessible book, it offers fresh insights for scholars and policymakers working in the areas of psychology, health, sociology, education, international development, public policy, and philosophy.

This is an open access book.


“This is the book we need right now! Following the first two tumultuous decades of the 21st century, Yukiko Uchida and Jeremy Rappleye invite readers to think broadly and deeply about what is means to be happy. Is the answer wealth, freedom, connection, harmony, health? Is happiness an individual pursuit or is it the larger society that makes happiness possible? How much happiness is the right amount?  How can happiness to be measured? How should policymakers in education, sustainability, economic development, and global governance think about the meaning and role of happiness?  With a rich and accessible blend of research, data, stories, and descriptions of past and ongoing efforts to capture and chart happiness, the book persuasively demonstrates that happiness depends in very important part on the times and places we find ourselves in. Most of what is currently broadly known about happiness comes from the theories and research by North American researchers grounded in Western philosophical frameworks. Uchida and Rappleye introduce an interdependent model of happiness in which happiness is less about independence, achievement and self-esteem and more about relationships, attunement to others and social support.  This approach, prevalent in Japan and much of East Asia, is also relevant to happiness to everywhere, and the authors weave a compelling argument for a focus on interdependence as a potential solution for happiness and for effective solutions to 21st century challenges.”—Hazel Rose Markus, Stanford University, USA and author of Clash! How to Thrive in a Multicultural World (2013)

Authors and Affiliations

  • Institute for the Future of Human Society, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan

    Yukiko Uchida

  • The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

    Jeremy Rappleye

About the authors

Yukiko Uchida is Professor at Kyoto University, Institute for the Future of Human Society, Japan. From 2019-2020, she was a Fellow at CASBS, Stanford University USA. After receiving her PhD in Social Psychology from Kyoto University in 2003, she worked as a visiting researcher at the University of Michigan and Stanford University. As a Cultural Psychologist, she studies the psychological mechanisms behind the experience of emotions like well-being.  

Jeremy Rappleye is Associate Professor at Kyoto University, Graduate School of Education, Japan.  He received his PhD in Education from the University of Oxford, and since 2012 has worked at Kyoto University in the division of Philosophical Pedagogy. His recent research centers on understanding how diverse institutional patterns (education) derive from different cultural worldviews, with particular focus on conceptualizations of self, (well-)being, and reality.

Bibliographic Information

Publish with us