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The Cultural Perspective: Are Some Societies Happier Than Others?

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Part of the Studies in Rhythm Engineering book series (SRE)

Abstract

The second chapter explores happiness from a cross-cultural perspective. Worldwide measures indicate huge differences in happiness between societies. For instance, the 2019 World Happiness Report (Helliwell, Layard, & Sachs, 2019) ranks Finland, Sweden, and Norway to be the happier countries, while other countries like South Sudan and Afghanistan are at the bottom of the list. On the other hand, the 2019 Global Emotions Report shows that Latin American countries lead in the positive experiences ranking. The chapter examines a handful of perspectives that explain cultural variation in happiness. One perspective quantifies key variables like GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, perceptions of corruption and generosity. Another perspective is grounded on the fulfillment of psychological needs like learning, autonomy, using one’s skills, respect, and count with others. Nevertheless, and despite the efforts to measure worldwide happiness, there is an unexplained happiness factor that is recognized by researchers and makes a difference in perception of happiness among countries with similar socioeconomic conditions. Hofstede’s cultural dimensions provide a broader cross-cultural frame to attend the unexplained factor of happiness. Members of collective society define themselves through the group they belong, in contrast, within the individualistic society the person is oriented around the self, as an independent being. This might explain why a factor like the freedom to life choices might gave a greater impact on happiness in an individualistic society and social support is more important in a collective society. Finally, the chapter explains the importance of addressing cultural variations on happiness perception in business decisions.

Keywords

Worldwide happiness measurements Consumer values Marketing strategies 

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© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2021

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Business SchoolTecnologico de MonterreySan Pedro Garza GarcíaMexico

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