Cultural Constructions of Happiness: Theory and Empirical Evidence

  • Yukiko Uchida
  • Vinai Norasakkunkit
  • Shinobu Kitayama
Part of the Happiness Studies Book Series book series (HAPS)


In a review of recent cross-cultural evidence on happiness and well-being, the authors identified substantial cultural variations in (1) cultural meanings of happiness, (2) motivations underlying happiness, and (3) predictors of happiness. Specifically, in North American cultural contexts, happiness tends to be defined in terms of personal achievement. Individuals engaging in these cultures are motivated to maximize the experience of positive affect. Moreover, happiness is best predicted by self-esteem. In contrast, in East Asian cultural contexts, happiness tends to be defined in terms of interpersonal connectedness. Individuals engaging in these cultures are motivated to maintain a balance between positive and negative affects. Moreover, happiness is best predicted by perceived embeddedness of the self in a social relationship. Directions for future research are discussed.


Life Satisfaction Positive Emotion Personal Achievement Cultural Meaning Social Harmony 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Yukiko Uchida, Research Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, was supported by Grant-in-Aid for JSPS Fellows. Also, this research was supported by the 21st Century COE Program (D-2 to Kyoto University), MEXT, Japan and grants-in-aid from the Ministry of Science and Education, Japan.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yukiko Uchida
    • 1
  • Vinai Norasakkunkit
    • 2
    • 4
  • Shinobu Kitayama
    • 3
  1. 1.Graduate School of Human and Environmental StudiesKokoro Research Center, Kyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  2. 2.Minnesota State UniversityMankatoUSA
  3. 3.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.Gonzaga UniversitySpokaneUSA

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