Family, Friends, and Subjective Well-being: A Comparison Between the West and Asia

  • Tianyuan Li
  • Sheung-Tak ChengEmail author


This chapter compares how family relationships and friendships influence subjective well-being in Western cultures and in the Asian context. Theories focusing on the function and life-span development of social network are first reviewed. Empirical findings about how family relationships and friendships contribute to subjective well-being in Western cultures are introduced. The two types of relationship play different roles in the social network. Friendships are particularly important in providing emotional support while family relationships are especially important during difficult times in life. Then, studies about the effect of family relationships and friendships on subjective well-being in the Asian context were specifically introduced, with an emphasis on the differences from the Western findings. Family relationships are more influential in the Asian context and the quantity of friendships also significantly contributes to subjective well-being. Lastly, future studies are encouraged to investigate how changes in demographics in modern societies and individual’s life-span development influence the effect of family relationships and friendships, how the two types of relationships interact to influence subjective well-being, and the causal relationship between social network and subjective well-being.


Family relationship Friendship Subjective well-being Cultural difference Asia 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological Studies and Centre for Psychosocial HealthHong Kong Institute of EducationNew TerritoriesHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of Health and Physical EducationHong Kong Institute of EducationNew TerritoriesHong Kong
  3. 3.Department of Clinical Psychology, Norwich Medical SchoolUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUnited Kingdom

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