ArticlePDF Available

Sociocultural Differences in Self-Construal and Subjective Well-Being: A Test of Four Cultural Models

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

In this study, the authors tested four cultural models—independence, interdependence, conflict, and integration—that describe the hypothesized relationships between dimensions of self-construal and components of subjective well-being among individualistic and collectivistic countries. Collectivistic countries that have undergone rapid socioeconomic changes (i.e., East Asian countries) and those with limited changes (i.e., African countries) were differentiated. Participants were 791 university students from four Western countries, 749 university students from three East Asian countries, and 443 university students from three African countries. Findings provided some support for the applicability of (a) the independence model to individuals from Western countries and (b) the integration model to individuals from East Asian countries. Mixed results were found among the African countries. The interdependence model is more applicable to African participants from the sub-Saharan region, but the integration model is more applicable to those from the North African region.
Content may be subject to copyright.
http://jcc.sagepub.com/
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
http://jcc.sagepub.com/content/42/5/832
The online version of this article can be found at:
DOI: 10.1177/0022022110381117
2011 42: 832 originally published online 9 September 2010Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Zavala, Alex Hakuzimana, Janine Hertel, Jin-Tan Liu, Mary Onyewadume and Ceri Sims
deTiliouine, Amos A. Alao, Jasmine H. M. Chio, Jodie Y. M. Lui, Woo Young Chun, Agnieszka Golec
Cecilia Cheng, Paul E. Jose, Kennon M. Sheldon, Theodore M. Singelis, Mike W. L. Cheung, Habib
Cultural Models
Sociocultural Differences in Self-Construal and Subjective Well-Being: A Test of Four
Published by:
http://www.sagepublications.com
On behalf of:
International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology
can be found at:Journal of Cross-Cultural PsychologyAdditional services and information for
http://jcc.sagepub.com/cgi/alertsEmail Alerts:
http://jcc.sagepub.com/subscriptionsSubscriptions:
http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.navReprints:
http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.navPermissions:
http://jcc.sagepub.com/content/42/5/832.refs.htmlCitations:
What is This?
- Sep 9, 2010Proof
- Jun 21, 2011Version of Record >>
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
42(5) 832 –855
© The Author(s) 2011
Reprints and permission:
sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav
DOI: 10.1177/0022022110381117
jccp.sagepub.com
Sociocultural Differences
in Self-Construal
and Subjective
Well-Being: A Test of
Four Cultural Models
Cecilia Cheng
1
, Paul E. Jose
2
, Kennon M. Sheldon
3
,
Theodore M. Singelis
4
, Mike W. L. Cheung
5
, Habib Tiliouine
6
,
Amos A. Alao
7
, Jasmine H. M. Chio
1
, Jodie Y. M. Lui
1
,
Woo Young Chun
8
, Agnieszka Golec de Zavala
9
,
Alex Hakuzimana
10
, Janine Hertel
11
, Jin-Tan Liu
12
,
Mary Onyewadume
7
, and Ceri Sims
9
Abstract
In this study, the authors tested four cultural models—independence, interdependence,
conflict, and integration—that describe the hypothesized relationships between dimensions of
self-construal and components of subjective well-being among individualistic and collectivistic
countries. Collectivistic countries that have undergone rapid socioeconomic changes (i.e., East
Asian countries) and those with limited changes (i.e., African countries) were differentiated.
Participants were 791 university students from four Western countries, 749 university students
from three East Asian countries, and 443 university students from three African countries.
Findings provided some support for the applicability of (a) the independence model to individuals
from Western countries and (b) the integration model to individuals from East Asian countries.
Mixed results were found among the African countries. The interdependence model is more
applicable to African participants from the sub-Saharan region, but the integration model is
more applicable to those from the North African region.
Keywords
culture, self-construal, societal modernization, subjective well-being
1
The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong
2
Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
3
University of Missouri–Columbia, Columbia, Missouri, USA
4
California State University, Chico, Chico, California, USA
5
National University of Singapore, Singapore
6
Oran University, Oran, Algeria
7
The University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana
8
Chungnam National University, Daejeon, Republic of Korea
9
Middlesex University, London, United Kingdom
10
Kigali Health Institute, Kigali, Rwanda
11
Chemnitz University of Technology, Chemnitz, Germany
12
National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Cheng et al. 833
Researchers (e.g., Argyle, 2001; Diener & Lucas, 2000; Furnham & Petrides, 2003; Veenhoven,
1994) commonly conceive of subjective well-being as positive evaluations of one’s life. Such
evaluations encompass both cognitive and affective aspects. For the cognitive aspect, the key
indicator of subjective well-being is life satisfaction. For the affective aspect, positive and nega-
tive affect are the major indicators. According to the tripartite conceptualization of subjective
well-being (Diener & Lucas, 2000), a high level of subjective well-being comprises a combina-
tion of three factors: (a) global life satisfaction, (b) experience of pleasant emotions, and (c) rela-
tive absence of negative emotions. This tripartite conceptualization was proposed by researchers
from individualistic cultures, but this conceptualization has also been found applicable to indi-
viduals from several collectivistic cultures (e.g., Cha, 2003; H. Cheng & Furnham, 2001; Goodman
& Silverstein, 2005; Lu, Gilmour, & Kao, 2001).
Despite this support for the universal conceptualization of subjective well-being, the sources
of subjective well-being may differ in strength among individuals due to distinct norms and val-
ues, both of which are molded by their unique cultural tradition (see, e.g., Kitayama, Markus, &
Matsumoto, 1995; Uchida, Norasakkunkit, & Kitayama, 2004). Individualism-collectivism is one
of the most important overarching dimensions for explaining cultural variations in self-construal
and social behavior (see, e.g., Hofstede, 2001; Triandis, 1996, for reviews). Specifically, indi-
viduals from individualistic countries (e.g., North America, Australia) value self-actualizing
goals and strive to gratify individualized needs. By contrast, individuals from collectivistic coun-
tries (e.g., China, South Korea) value social harmony and strive to maintain harmonious interper-
sonal relations.
Since the 1960s, some collectivistic countries, particularly those in East Asia, have undergone
drastic transformation from subsistence- to industrial-based societies. The rapid economic
growth in these collectivistic countries is reflected by an escalation of the annual percentage
change of gross domestic product (GDP), the most widely adopted cross-national indicator of a
country’s productive capacity and standard of living (see, e.g., Lewis, 1955; Sundrum, 1991). As
shown in Figure 1, the GDP of the East Asian region has soared approximately 10-fold over the
past 25 years. According to classic modernization theories and theories of social change (e.g.,
Moore, 1963; Weiner, 1966), the process of societal modernization involves not only economic
but also social changes such as increase in educational levels, rising importance of personal
achievement, changes in gender role, and fragmentation of traditional extended families into
nuclear ones (see, e.g., Billet, 1993; Inglehart & Welzel, 2005). Such social changes have an
impact on these collectivistic societies by reducing indigenous values while simultaneously
breeding new ones, which are more individualistic in nature. Hwang (1989) assessed the psycho-
logical needs of Taiwan university students in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, respectively.
Results revealed a consistent increase in needs for autonomy and exhibition and a concomitant
decline in needs for deference and nurturance. Such value changes can be summarized into two
major themes: greater individualistic orientation and stronger desire for autonomous social
participation.
Societal modernization has aroused researchers’ interest in exploring cultural value changes
among individuals in collectivistic countries that have undergone drastic socioeconomic trans-
formation. However, no studies to date have included individuals from collectivistic countries
with limited modernization as a comparison group. Individuals from modernized collectivistic
countries may differ from not only those from individualistic countries but also those from col-
lectivistic countries that have just begun to modernize, such as countries in Africa (Inglehart,
1997). The present study aimed to fill this gap by distinguishing the source of subjective
well-being among individuals from three types of countries with distinct sociocultural
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
834 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 42(5)
backgrounds: (a) Western countries (representing individualistic cultures), (b) East Asian coun-
tries (representing collectivistic cultures with individualistic influences), and (c) African coun-
tries (representing collectivistic cultures with limited individualistic influences).
We tested four theory-based models that account for the differences in the source of subjec-
tive well-being among the three sociocultural groups. Figure 2 presents these conceptual models
that delineate the process underlying the relationships between dimensions of self-construal and
components of subjective well-being.
Independence Model
The first model to be tested is the independence model. Its major tenet is that the well-being of
the self constitutes the fundamental source of subjective well-being. This model proposes that
independent self-construal, rather than interdependent self-construal, is related to subjective
well-being. This proposal originated from classical humanistic theories of personality (Maslow,
1968; Rogers, 1961). Both Maslow’s and Rogers’ theories are essentially theories of personal
growth, with an emphasis on the self-actualizing tendency of individuals. Specifically, individu-
als are motivated to realize their inner potentials, fulfill their needs, and enrich their experience
of living. These theories hold a holistic view of the self. A fully functioning person is character-
ized by an integrated, unique, and organized self. Hence, individuals constantly strive to attain a
unity of self and self-consistency. Rogers (1980) further posited that individuals having a “good
lifeare self-fulfilling, autonomous, and creative. They actively engage in positive experiences from
which they can derive a sense of satisfaction.
0
500,000
1,000,000
1,500,000
2,000,000
2,500,000
3,000,000
3,500,000
1982 1987 1992 1997 2002 2007
GDP (million US$)
Western Europe East Asia Africa
Figure 1. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Data of Three Selected Regions From the Year 1982 to 1997.
Source: World Development Indicators database (World Bank Group, 2008).
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Cheng et al. 835
IDS
ITS
PA
NA
LS
+
+
B. InterdependenceModel
IDS
ITS
PA
NA
LS
+
A. Independence Model
+
IDS
ITS
PA
NA
LS
+
+
C. Conflict Model
IDS
ITS
PA
NA
LS
+
+
+
D. Integration Model
Figure 2. Conceptual Models and Predicted Pathways of the Three Cultural Models.
Solid lines indicate predicted significant paths, whereas dashed lines indicate predicted nonsignificant paths.
IDS = independent self-construal; ITS = interdependent self-construal; LS = life satisfaction; NA = negative affect;
PA = positive affect.
Although these classical theories emphasize the universality of individual agency in need
gratification, Bandura (2002) maintained that adaptive psychological functioning requires a
blend of individual and collective modes of agency. The relative weight of these two modes of
agency seems to vary across cultures. People from individualistic cultures are more likely to
emphasize individual agency, whereas those from collectivistic cultures are more likely to place
weight on collective agency in their daily functioning. Chirkov, Ryan, Kim, and Kaplan (2003)
further expanded the self-determination theory, which postulates that psychological needs for
autonomy and relatedness are universal, by documenting subjective well-being is experienced
only when these universal needs are compatible with cultural values.
In light of these notions, we proposed that independent self-construal would play a key role in
subjective well-being among individuals from individualistic cultures. According to Markus and
Kitayama (1991), an independent self-construal emphasizes the wholeness and separateness of
one’s configuration of internal attributes. Individuals with greater orientations toward independence
focus on self-related life tasks, such as striving for one’s goals and being straightforward in inter-
personal relations. To achieve these life tasks, they exercise their agency to control the environment
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
836 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 42(5)
and influence others. If their self-oriented needs are gratified, these individuals will experience an
increase in subjective well-being.
Based on these analyses, the independence model proposed that independent self-construal is
related to subjective well-being; that is, independent self-construal should be (a) positively asso-
ciated with positive affect, (b) inversely associated with negative affect, and (c) positively asso-
ciated with life satisfaction (see Figure 2a). This model is proposed as being more applicable to
explaining the sources of subjective well-being among individuals from individualistic cultures
than the other two models.
Interdependence Model
The second model to be tested is the interdependence model. A major tenet of this model is
that the welfare of the group constitutes the fundamental source of subjective well-being.
This model postulates that interdependent self-construal, but not independent self-construal,
is associated with subjective well-being. This postulation is predicated on the cultural theo-
ries of happiness (Diener & Lucas, 2000; Uchida et al., 2004). The major premise of these
theories is that subjective well-being is influenced by culture. The self-in-relation-with-
others constitutes the cultural core of collectivistic cultures. Individuals in these cultures are
motivated to adjust themselves to fit into the expectations of others, demands of social situa-
tions, or both. Instead of realizing one’s inner potentials as posited in classical theories of
personal growth, cultural theories of happiness postulate that the realization of harmonious
interpersonal relations is crucial to subjective well-being for individuals in collectivistic
cultures.
In light of the cultural theories of happiness, the interdependence model proposed in this study
predicts that interdependent self-construal plays a key role in subjective well-being among indi-
viduals from collectivistic cultures. According to Markus and Kitayama (1991), an interdepen-
dent self-construal emphasizes individuals’ connectedness to members of their interpersonal
network. Individuals with greater orientation toward interdependence focus on social-related life
tasks, such as promoting others’ goals and being indirect in interpersonal relations. To achieve
such life tasks, individuals are motivated to adapt to social situations so as to create and preserve
relational harmony. If their social-oriented needs are gratified, individuals with greater orienta-
tion toward interdependence will experience a higher level of subjective well-being (e.g., Kwan,
Bond, & Singelis, 1997; Oishi & Diener, 2001).
Based on these analyses, the interdependence model predicted that interdependent self-
construal is related to subjective well-being; that is, interdependent self-construal should be
(a) positively related to positive affect, (b) inversely related to negative affect, and (c) posi-
tively related to life satisfaction (see Figure 2b). Although interdependent self-construals are
prevalent among individuals from collectivistic cultures, the pattern of self-construal may be
different among collectivistic countries with different extents of societal modernization. In the
late 20th century, rapid economic changes mainly involved collectivistic countries in Asia
(Leong & Chang, 2003; K. S. Yang, 1996), but the pace of economic development has been
slow in collectivistic countries in Africa (Fischer, 2003; Tiliouine, Cummins, & Davern,
2004; see also Figure 1). Because economic growth is accompanied by social changes, it is
reasonable to infer that individuals from African countries may experience a smaller extent of
change in traditional cultural values than do those from East Asian countries, though countries
in both geographic regions have been widely regarded as collectivistic (Hofstede, 2001).
Hence, we proposed that the interdependence model may be more applicable to individuals
from African countries.
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Cheng et al. 837
Two Hybrid Models: Conflict Versus Integration
The third model to be tested is the hybrid model, whose major tenet is that both the well-being
of the self and the group’s welfare are possible sources of subjective well-being. Although these
two types of self-construal seem to contradict each other, it is theoretically possible that they can
coexist within an individual. Because studies revealed a coexistence of indigenous (e.g., rela-
tional harmony, filial piety) and Western (e.g., autonomy, individual-oriented achievement) val-
ues among the Chinese and Singaporeans (e.g., Chang, Wong, & Koh, 2003; Lu & Kao, 2002;
Pek & Leong, 2003; X. Zhang, Zheng, & Wang, 2003), the hybrid model may be more applica-
ble to individuals from collectivistic countries with rapid societal modernization.
The idea of the coexistence of independent and interdependent self-construals parallels Marar’s
(2004) theoretical notion of the “happiness paradox.” Marar posited that bicultural individuals in
modern societies are exposed to two sets of competing values. One set is related to the self,
which emphasizes self-expression, achievement, and fulfillment of one’s goals. Fulfillment of
these self-oriented needs require individuals to turn away from people, be one’s own self, and
break inherited rules. The other set is related to external standards, which emphasize responsibil-
ity and accountability. Fulfillment of these social-oriented needs require individuals to turn towards
people, seek others’ approval, and adhere to social norms.
In the current literature on the bicultural self, two types of hybrid models were proposed. The
first type refers to a conflict model, which postulates that biculturals in modern societies are
faced with a self-actualization-versus-others’-approval dilemma (Benet-Martinez & Haritatos,
2005; C. Cheng, Lee, & Benet-Martinez, 2006). Although these individuals identify with both
traditional and modern values, they tend to perceive these systems of values as conflicting. They
often feel caught between the two value systems and experience high levels of anxiety and depres-
sion (Benet-Martinez & Haritatos, 2005).
In line with these theoretical views, the study by Deutsch (2004) showed that many Chinese
participants reported that they struggled between attaining their personal goals (i.e., to find their
desired job in a city farther from home) and gratifying their affiliative needs (i.e., to find a job
located closer to their family). When making a decision, some pursued their own goal by seeking
a desired job wherever it might be. They felt happy because their need for achievement had been
gratified but also less satisfied with their decision because they had to stay away from their family.
Others lowered their job aspiration by seeking a job located closer to where their parents resided.
Although these individuals felt less happy for failing to attain their goals of achievement, they
were still satisfied with the less desirable choice that pleased their parents. Taken together, the
conflict model puts forward that bicultural individuals may experience either (a) high level of
positive affect, low level of negative affect, and low level of life satisfaction, or (b) low level of
positive affect, high level of negative affect, and high level of life satisfaction (see Figure 2c).
The second type refers to an integration model, which postulates that the apparent conflicts
between traditional and modern values may be well integrated within a functional self-system
(Sui, Zhu, & Chiu, 2007). Instead of viewing the two value systems as conflicting, biculturals
tend to regard both systems as congruent and compatible. Such a notion stems from theories of
biculturalism (e.g., Hong, Ip, Chiu, Morris, & Menon, 2001; Lu & Yang, 2006), which postulate
the existence of a traditional-modern bicultural self among individuals exposed to both Western
and indigenous values. The bicultural self is made up of two components: the individual- and the
social-oriented self. In a modern pluralistic society, individuals characterized by a bicultural self
tend to vary the display of these two aspects of self according to specific situational demands and
social expectations (Hong, Morris, Chiu, & Benet-Martinez, 2000). To illustrate, when these
individuals are in situations that emphasize achievement (e.g., at work), their individual-oriented
self may be more influential in guiding social behavior. Conversely, their social-oriented self
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
838 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 42(5)
may become more influential when they are in situations in which communal needs are valued
(e.g., at home).
In light of these theoretical perspectives, the integration model proposes that neither indepen-
dent nor interdependent self-construal alone is sufficient to account for subjective well-being.
Instead of viewing these self-construals as contradictory, they are proposed as two separate mech-
anisms that complement each other. First, independent self-construal may contribute to personal
affect because it refers to self-directed emotions related to hedonism (see Berenbaum, 2002;
Egloff, Schmukle, Burns, Kohlmann, & Hock, 2003). Individuals striving to gratify self-oriented
goals may experience higher levels of subjective well-being: more positive affect, less negative
affect, and greater life satisfaction. Second, interdependent self-construal may also contribute to
life satisfaction but not personal affect. Such a notion stems from Dien’s (1983) dialectical the-
ory of the self, which puts forward that the individual-oriented self (i.e., the “little me”) is sub-
sumed under the social-oriented self (i.e., the “big me”). When there is a conflict between these
two aspects of the self, individuals who strive to attain social-oriented goals may disregard their
individual-oriented needs, at least temporarily. These individuals may experience life satisfaction
due to gratification of their affiliative needs. However, their personal affect may remain unchanged
because their individual-oriented goals have been discarded.
Taken together, the integrative model proposes that the independent self-construal of bicultural
individuals should be associated with subjective well-being; that is, independent self-construal
should have (a) a positive relationship with positive affect, (b) a negative relationship with nega-
tive affect, and (c) a positive relationship with life satisfaction. In addition, their interdependent
self-construal should also have a positive relationship with life satisfaction (see Figure 2d).
In summary, four models—independence, interdependence, conflict, and integration—were
tested in this study. We proposed that the independence model may be more applicable to account
for the source of subjective well-being among individuals from individualistic countries. The
interdependence model may be more applicable to explain the source of subjective well-being
among individuals from African countries, which experienced limited societal modernization in
the recent past (Inglehart, 1997). The conflict or integration model may be more applicable to
explicate the source of subjective well-being among individuals from East Asian countries that
have undergone rapid socioeconomic changes since the 1960s.
Before we tested these hypothesized models, it was necessary to examine two assumptions
from which the various models were derived. First, we proposed that societal modernization, in
addition to individualism-collectivism, would be a dimension relevant to cross-cultural compari-
son of subjective well-being. Second, and in particular, societal modernization was expected to
play a moderating role on cultural differences in subjective well-being. To address these issues,
Study 1 was conducted to test these hypotheses using the World Values Survey (WVS) data set.
The WVS is the most extensive multinational investigation of the impact of sociocultural changes
on various aspects of social life.
Study 1
Method
Participants and Procedures.
The current analyses were conducted with aggregated data
derived from the 2005-2008 (fifth) wave of the WVS (WVS Organization, 2009). We selected
data from countries that met three inclusion criteria. First, the country should be from one of the
three clusters of countries involved in our research. Second, the item of life satisfaction should
be included in the WVS interview protocol of that country. Third, both the individualism and the
economic-modernization indices should be available for that country. We analyzed the data of
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Cheng et al. 839
all 17 countries that met the three criteria. Specifically, Western (Finland, Germany, Sweden,
Switzerland, United States), African (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Mali, Rwanda, Zambia), and
Asian (China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam) countries were included
in the analyses. The final sample consisted of 25,609 participants (50% males), with an average
age of 40.40 years (SD = 16.15). The surveys were carried out by professional researchers
through face-to-face interviews with representative samples in each country.
Measures
In the present analyses, life satisfaction was included as a person-level (Level 1) criterion vari-
able, whereas Individualism Index Value (IDV) and Economic Modernization Index (EMI) were
included as country-level (Level 2) predictors. The WVS interview protocol was translated into
the native language(s) of people from each country.
Person-level life satisfaction. The WVS assesses respondents’ general life satisfaction using a
single item: “All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?”
Respondents answered the question by giving a rating along a 10-point Likert-type scale. A
higher rating reflects a higher level of personal satisfaction with life.
Individualism-collectivism. Hofstede’s (2001) IDV was adopted in the present analyses as an indi-
cator of a country’s extent of individualism. The IDV ranges from 1 to 100, with a higher value
revealing a particular country as more individualistic.
Economic modernization. The EMI (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Develop-
ment, 2009) was used as an indicator of a country’s pace of economic change. The EMI was
compiled based on the following statistics: gross national product (GNP) per capita, agricultural
productivity rate, manufacturing productivity rate, service industry productivity rate, knowledge
capital input, Internet popularization rate, energy consumption efficiency, quantum of interna-
tional trade per capita, ratio of agricultural workforce, agricultural value-added ratio (VAR),
ratio of manufacturing workforce, manufacturing VAR, ratio of service industry workforce, and
service industry VAR. The EMI also ranges from 1 to 100. A higher EMI value reflects a faster
pace of economic modernization.
Results and Discussion
Hierarchical linear modeling was computed with HLM 6.06 (Raudenbush, Bryk, & Congdon,
2008) because the WVS data set constitutes nested data (i.e., individuals nested within coun-
tries). The unconditional model indicated that sufficient variance existed in life satisfaction
scores to proceed. The next step was to determine whether individualism (vs. collectivism) at the
national level was predictive of Level 1 life satisfaction. The next model indicated that country-
level individualism was a relatively weak positive predictor of Level 1 life satisfaction, B = .016,
SE = .006, p = .02. It is worth noting that we were mainly interested in determining whether
societal modernization (i.e., Level 2 EMI scores) moderated the link between individualism and
life satisfaction. Hence, we next entered the main effects of EMI and individualism scores as
well as the product term of these two variables as Level 2 predictors of life satisfaction at Level 1.
Results showed that individualism ceased to be a statistically significant predictor of life satis-
faction, and EMI was found not to be a statistically significant predictor either. However, a sta-
tistically significant Individualism × EMI interaction term was obtained, B = .0003, SE = .0002,
p < .05. The results are summarized in Figure 3.
Figure 3 shows that individualism is not a statistically significant predictor of life satisfaction
in countries with high EMI ratings, but it is a statistically significant negative predictor in coun-
tries that receive low EMI ratings. We made two conclusions based on the present results. First,
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
840 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 42(5)
this statistically significant interaction effect provides support for the moderating role of EMI, an
indicator of societal modernization. These findings indicate that both country-level dimensions
of individualism and societal modernization should be included in the present research. Second,
the strength of the relationship between life satisfaction and individualism is most prominent
among countries with low EMI, thus providing evidence for the necessity to include countries
with low EMI (such as African countries).
Study 2
Results from Study 1 provided some evidence that apart from individualism, societal moderniza-
tion was also a relevant dimension in the study of subjective well-being. Now we proceed to
examine four explanatory models for the hypothesized relationships between self-construals and
subjective well-being for different clusters of countries. These clusters of countries differed from
each other in the extent of individualism (vs. collectivism) and societal modernization.
Method
Inclusion Criteria of Individualistic and Collectivistic Countries.
We categorized countries
as individualistic and collectivistic based on two criteria, namely the IDV and the Individualism-
Collectivism rating (Suh, Diener, Oishi, & Triandis, 1998). For both indices, a greater value
indicates that the country is categorized as more individualistic. All the Western countries have
an IDV greater than 65 and an Individualism-Collectivism rating greater than 7, indicating that
these countries can be categorized as individualistic. All the African and East Asian countries
have an IDV smaller than 30 and an Individualism-Collectivism rating smaller than 4.8, indicat-
ing that these countries can be categorized as collectivistic.
–1.0
–0.8
–0.6
–0.4
–0.2
0.0
0.2
0.4
0.6
Low Medium High
Individualism
Life Satisfaction
High EMI Medium EMI Low EMI
Figure 3. The Prediction of Individual-Level Life Satisfaction by Country-Level Individualism
(vs. Collectivism) as Moderated by Country-Level Societal Modernization
EMI = economic modernization index.
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Cheng et al. 841
We performed hierarchical cluster analysis to classify the 10 countries into discrete groups
based on their IDV and EMI. In clustering the data, the squared Euclidean distance was employed
as the proximity measure because this measure reflects the elevation (level), shape, and scatter
of the profile (e.g., Cronbach & Gleser, 1953; Skinner, 1978). The between-groups linkage
method was adopted as the grouping method. A series of hierarchical clusters were generated to
partition the data into optimally homogeneous groups. In comparison with other possible solu-
tions, the three-cluster solution was deemed the most meaningful (see Introduction). Table 1
shows the sociocultural indices of the three clusters of countries.
Participants From Western Countries (Cluster 1)
Germany. Participants were 186 undergraduates (40 men, 146 women) from the Chemnitz
University of Technology. Their average age was 22.67 years (SD = 4.68, range = 18 to 42).
New Zealand. Participants were 120 undergraduates (41 men, 79 women) from the Victoria
University of Wellington. Their average age was 19.33 years (SD = 2.90, range = 18 to 35).
United Kingdom. Participants were 171 undergraduates (33 men, 134 women, 4 did not spec-
ify) from the Middlesex University. Their average age was 23.17 years (SD = 6.42, range = 18
to 60).
United States. Participants were 186 undergraduates (44 men, 138 women, 4 did not specify)
from the California State University, Chico and 128 undergraduates (44 men, 83 women, 1 did
not specify) from the University of Missouri–Columbia. Their average age was 20.52 years
(SD = 3.63, range = 18 to 48).
Participants From African Countries (Cluster 2)
Algeria. Participants were 60 undergraduates (18 men, 42 women) from the University of
Oran, 78 undergraduates (27 men, 51 women) from the National School of Technical Teachings,
Table 1. Sociocultural Indices of Three Clusters of Countries
Country
Questionnaire
Language
IDV
(1-100)
ICR
(1-10)
GDP
(million US$)
a
GDP Rank
a
EMI
Cluster 1: Western countries
Germany German 67 7.35 3,322,147 3 95
New Zealand English 79 128,141 51 74
United Kingdom English 89 8.95 2,772,570 5 98
United States English 91 9.55 13,843,825 1 97
Cluster 2: African countries
Algeria Arabic 20
b
3.00
c
131,568 50 25
Botswana English 27
b
3.00
c
12,313 104 37
Rwanda English 27
b
3.00
c
3,320 145 10
Cluster 3: East Asian countries
Hong Kong Chinese 25 4.75 206,707 36 96
South Korea Korean 18 2.40 957,053 13 58
Taiwan Chinese 17 3.85 383,307 24 74
Dash indicates that the data were not available. EMI = Economic Modernization Index; ICR = Individualism-
Collectivism Rating; IDV = Individualism Index Value.
a. The GDP data refer to the year 2007 from the World Economic Outlook Database (International Monetary Fund,
2008).
b. In Hofstede’s (2001) multinational study, no IDV was assigned to individual countries in Africa. The IDV of East
African countries is 27, whereas the IDV of West African countries is 20.
c. In the multinational study by Suh et al. (1998), no ICR were given to these African countries, but a rating of 3.00
was given to all the African countries in their study.
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
842 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 42(5)
and 55 undergraduates (28 men, 27 women) from the University of Belabbes. Their average age
was 21.39 years (SD = 2.01, range = 18 to 35).
Botswana. Participants were 50 undergraduates (15 men, 34 women, 1 did not specify) from
the University of Botswana. Their average age was 21.32 years (SD = 2.39, range = 19 to 25).
Rwanda. Participants were 50 undergraduates (18 men, 32 women) from the National Univer-
sity of Rwanda, 50 undergraduates (21 men, 29 women) from the Kigali Health Institute, 50
undergraduates (17 men, 33 women) from the Kigali Independent University, and 50 under-
graduates (22 men, 28 women) from the Kigali Institute of Science, Technology and Manage-
ment. Their average age was 25.27 years (SD = 4.42, range = 19 to 36).
Participants From East Asian Countries (Cluster 3)
Hong Kong. Participants were 63 undergraduates (16 men, 47 women) from the University of
Hong Kong and 140 undergraduates (56 men, 83 women, 1 did not specify) from the Hong Kong
University of Science and Technology. Their average age was 20.00 years (SD = 1.07, range = 18
to 25).
South Korea. Participants were 194 undergraduates (99 men, 95 women) from the Hallym
University. Their average age was 20.73 years (SD = 2.23, range = 18 to 29).
Taiwan. Participants were 33 undergraduates (16 men, 17 women) from the National Taiwan
University, 132 undergraduates (72 men, 60 women) from Tamkang University, 21 undergradu-
ates (1 men, 20 women) from Taipei Medical College, 47 undergraduates (18 men, 29 women)
from National Chung-San University, 15 undergraduates (all women) from Chang-Kan Univer-
sity, 21 undergraduates (1 men, 20 women) from National Normal University, 25 undergraduates
(13 men, 12 women) from National Chung-Cheng University, and 53 undergraduates (18 men, 35
women) from National Cheng-Chi University. The average age of this sample was 20.73 years
(SD = 2.23, range = 18 to 29).
Measures. Participants completed a set of questionnaires in their native language, with the
exception of those from Botswana and Rwanda. Because a variety of African and European lan-
guages are used in these two African countries, the English version of the questionnaire was used
because English is the only language common among all the participants in these countries.
If any of the measures was not available in a particular language, the measures were back-
translated (see Brislin, 1986) to ensure that the particular version had equivalent meanings (i.e.,
conceptual equivalence) with the validated English measures. A translator translated the items
from English into that language. Another translated the items back into English. As recom-
mended by Brislin (1986), the two translators worked independently and then discussed the
translated work together in a post hoc meeting. The two versions were reviewed and compared
for equivalence. The co-investigator of that country then reviewed the translated measures and
independently commented on the meaning, clarity, and choice of words.
Self-construal. The revised Self-Construal Scale (SCS; Singelis, 1994; Singelis, Bond, Sharkey,
& Lai, 1999) is a 30-item measure developed on Markus and Kitayama’s (1991) conceptualiza-
tion of cultural self-construal. This measure consists of two 15-item subscales: Independence and
Interdependence. The SCS was selected because it is the most common measure of self-construal
and has been frequently adopted in cross-cultural studies (e.g., Friedlmeier, Schafermeier,
Vasconcellos, & Trommsdorff, 2008; Thomsen, Sidanius, & Fiske, 2007; Wang & Mallinckrodt,
2006; R. P. Yang, Noels, & Saumure, 2006). Respondents are instructed to give ratings to each
item along a 7-point Likert-type scale (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree). Each subscale
ranges from 15 to 105, with higher scores indicating a greater orientation towards independence
or interdependence.
Positive and negative affect. The Positive Affect and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS;
Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988) is a 20-item measure of the affective component of subjective
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Cheng et al. 843
well-being. This measure was selected because it is a popular measure of affect and has been
widely used in cross-cultural studies (e.g., Ayyash-Abdo & Alamuddin, 2007; Dierk et al., 2006;
Kim & Hatfield, 2004; W. Zhang, Jing, & Schick, 2004). The PANAS comprises two 10-item
subscales: Positive Affect (e.g., “interested,” “excited”) and Negative Affect (e.g., “ashamed,”
“nervous”). Respondents indicate how they have been feeling during the past month by giving a
5-point rating (1 = very slightly or not at all to 5 = extremely). Each subscale ranges from 10 to
50, with higher scores indicating a greater level of a particular mood state.
Life satisfaction. The Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS; Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin,
1985) is a 5-item measure of the cognitive component of subjective well-being that assesses
one’s overall satisfaction with life. This measure was chosen because it is a popular measure of
life satisfaction and has been commonly adopted by cross-cultural researchers (e.g., Dorahy et al.,
1998; Goodwin, Cook, & Yung, 2001; Inumiya, Choi, Yoon, Seo, & Han, 1999; Vitterso,
Biswas-Diener, & Diener, 2005). Respondents indicate their degree of agreement with each item
along a 7-point scale (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree). The SWLS scores range from
5 to 35, with higher scores indicating greater life satisfaction.
Procedures
The set of questionnaires was group administered in the university or institute in which the par-
ticipants were recruited. Participants had to sign a consent form before the study began. Those
who did not give written consent were excluded.
Results and Discussion
In this study, differences in mean levels of self-construal and subjective well-being were com-
pared among the three sociocultural groups: Western countries, African countries, and East Asian
countries. This study also tested four cultural models—independence, interdependence, conflict,
and integration models—that may account for the relationships between dimensions of self-
construal (independent, interdependent) and components of subjective well-being (positive
affect, negative affect, life satisfaction) for these sociocultural groups. The extent to which these
models fit the sample data was evaluated.
When comparing psychological constructs in multinational research, it is important to explore
configural and metric invariance. An examination of the measurement models of the two separate
sets of variables was performed using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). In particular, we per-
formed two CFAs, one for each set of variables (i.e., one set featured the two independent vari-
ables of independent self-construal and interdependent self-construal, and the second set featured
the three dependent variables of life satisfaction, positive affect, and negative affect). Following
Byrne (2001), the CFAs were constructed in a conventional manner by estimating all items of a
given measure for the respective latent construct (no multiple loadings were allowed and no sec-
ond order constructs were created). As recommended by Cheung and Rensvold (2002), we sought
to determine whether the CFI model fit index deteriorated by more than .01 once equality constraints
were placed on the model. A baseline model was first obtained, and then equality constraints were
placed on estimates in two separate runs with the three regions identified on (a) covariances
between latent constructs (i.e., configural invariance) and (b) factor loadings for each item on each
latent construct (item-level metric invariance). For the outcome variables, CFI deteriorated from
.908 (baseline) to .907 for configural invariance and to .901 for item-level metric invariance. For
the independent variables, CFI deteriorated from .836 (baseline) to .828 for configural invariance
and to .817 for item-level metric invariance. These results suggest that both configural and item-
level metric invariance was obtained for the outcome measures.
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
844 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 42(5)
Configural invariance was also obtained for the self-construal measures, and item-level met-
ric invariance was very nearly obtained for the self-construal constructs (expected: .01; obtained:
.019). Examination of the factor loadings showed that African respondents yielded generally
lower values than the other two groups, but not markedly so. F. F. Chen (2008) warns that poor
factor loadings by a measure imported into a particular culture may artificially generate statisti-
cal interactions, but the differences in loadings in the present case were not sufficiently large to
merit such a concern. In short, these results indicate that these five measures were comprehended
and responded to very similarly by individuals from these 10 diverse countries.
Before conducting the major analyses, a preliminary analysis was performed to examine pos-
sible sex differences in levels of self-construal and subjective well-being. Results from the mul-
tivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) revealed a statistically significant effect of sex, F(5,
1,874) = 7.88, p < .0001 (partial η
2
= .02). It is worth noting that a statistically significant sex
difference was only found in life satisfaction, F(1, 1,878) = 24.08, p < .0001 (partial η
2
= .01).
Female participants (M = 21.18, SD = 6.17) generally reported higher levels of life satisfaction
than their male counterparts (M = 19.74, SD = 5.76). Because results from the preliminary analy-
sis revealed a statistically significant sex difference in only one of the five major variables, this
demographic variable was excluded in subsequent statistical analyses. Table 2 shows the descrip-
tive statistics of the samples for all 10 countries.
Sociocultural Differences in Self-Construal and Subjective Well-Being
A MANOVA was performed to examine the hypothesized effects of sociocultural group on the
major variables. The MANOVA results revealed a statistically significant group effect, F(10,
3,778) = 100.87, p < .0001 (partial η
2
= .21). Statistically significant differences were consis-
tently found in all five variables among the three sociocultural groups, Fs(2, 1,892) > 52.45,
ps < .0001 (partial η
2
ranged from .05 to .25).
Post hoc Bonferroni tests were performed to further analyze the source of differences for this
statistically significant group effect. For self-construal, results revealed that participants from
Western countries reported a greater orientation toward independent self-construal than those
from East Asian countries, who in turn reported a greater orientation toward independent self-
construal than participants from African countries, ps < .0001. An opposite pattern was found for
interdependent self-construal. Specifically, participants from African countries reported a greater
orientation toward interdependent self-construal than their counterparts from East Asian coun-
tries, who in turn reported a greater orientation toward interdependent self-construal than partici-
pants from Western countries, ps < .0001.
For subjective well-being, participants from Western countries reported a higher level of posi-
tive affect than East Asian participants, who in turn reported a higher level than African partici-
pants, ps < .0001. Participants from African countries reported a higher level of negative affect
than their counterparts from East Asian countries and those from Western countries, ps < .0001.
Participants from Western countries reported a higher level of life satisfaction than those from
both African countries and East Asian countries, ps < .0001. Taken together, these results pro-
vided some support for the need to differentiate among collectivistic countries.
Testing of Cultural Models
Path analysis was performed using EQS 6.1 (Bentler & Wu, 2004) to evaluate the extent to
which the proposed cultural models fit the sample data. One set of path analyses was conducted
at the group level. Before conducting the path analyses, all the variables were centered to reduce
the dependence in the data introduced by pooling the data from different countries. Another set
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
845
Table 2. Descriptive Statistics of Major Variables by Sociocultural Group and Country
IDS ITS PA NA LS
Country n M SD
α
M SD
α
M SD
α
M SD
α
M SD
α
Western countries
Germany 186 70.78 8.71 .67 66.44 8.28 .66 35.75 6.11 .83 22.78 6.49 .80 24.09 5.60 .83
New Zealand 120 68.55 8.75 .64 67.82 8.62 .65 32.80 5.82 .80 21.87 6.20 .80 21.77 6.15 .83
United Kingdom 171 73.13 9.76 .71 66.06 9.34 .67 36.18 6.28 .81 23.99 7.28 .81 21.60 5.96 .77
United States 314 71.02 10.48 .76 68.36 8.76 .66 34.89 6.97 .86 23.29 7.27 .85 23.72 6.25 .86
African countries
Algeria 193 65.02 11.33 .70 77.82 10.53 .73 27.71 6.86 .80 26.44 7.67 .81 20.03 5.95 .74
Botswana 50 64.78 11.81 .66 73.31 11.86 .71 25.33 6.36 .81 28.00 7.09 .77 20.06 6.66 .82
Rwanda 200 60.32 10.82 .72 76.01 12.64 .76 24.06 4.09 .73 27.16 3.33 .72 17.44 3.35 .77
East Asian countries
Hong Kong 203 66.23 8.72 .64 70.34 8.72 .67 29.86 6.21 .81 23.12 6.90 .84 20.09 6.07 .82
South Korea 194 68.08 8.34 .65 69.02 8.32 .70 29.72 7.02 .83 22.33 7.51 .85 18.75 5.80 .82
Taiwan 352 66.37 8.84 .67 71.07 9.53 .76 29.77 5.91 .82 23.42 6.50 .82 19.09 5.49 .75
IDS = independent self-construal; ITS = interdependent self-construal; LS = life satisfaction; NA = negative affect; PA = positive affect.
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
846 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 42(5)
of path analyses was performed at the country level. Apart from the hypothesized models, alter-
native models were also tested. For instance, although the independence model was proposed to
be found in Western countries, the data derived from these countries were tested with both the
hypothesized independence model and other alternative (i.e., interdependence, conflict, and inte-
gration) models. Table 3 summarizes the predictions of each model and the results of path analy-
ses at both group and country levels. The goodness of fit indices for the hypothesized and
alternative models are presented in Table 4.
For Western countries, results from path analysis provided support for the independence
model in revealing positive links between independent self-construal and positive affect as well
as independent self-construal and life satisfaction. The pattern of results among all the Western
countries was largely consistent. The goodness of fit indices further showed that the indepen-
dence model (M
1
) fit the data of this sociocultural group well.
For East Asian countries, the path analytic results supported the integration model in revealing
positive links between independent self-construal and positive affect, independent self-construal
and life satisfaction, as well as interdependent self-construal and life satisfaction. This pattern of
results was found among all of the East Asian countries. The goodness of fit indices further indi-
cated that the integration model (M
4.1
) fit the data of this sociocultural group well.
For African countries, results from path analysis provided support for the interdependence
model in revealing positive links between interdependent self-construal and positive affect as well
as interdependent self-construal and life satisfaction. Yet an unexpected positive relationship was
found between independent self-construal and positive affect. As a result, a poor fit was found for
the interdependence model (M
2.1
) among participants from the three African countries.
As shown in the country-level analysis, the pattern of results for Algeria was very different
from the pattern for Botswana and Rwanda. Results for the latter two countries were largely
Table 3. Summary of Path Analytic Results by Socio-Cultural Group and Country
n
IDSàPA ITSàPA IDSàNA ITSàNA IDSàLS ITSàLS
Western Countries
Predictions
+
ns ns
+
ns
Group 791 .39** .01 –.16** .07 .29** .04
Germany 186 .34** –.11 –.30** .06 .17* –.01
New Zealand 120 .40** .08 –.19 –.13 .25** .07
United Kingdom 171 .40** –.06 –.12 .14 .29** –.01
United States 314 .43** .10 –.11 .09 .36** .09
African Countries
Predictions ns
+
ns ns
+
Group 443 .18** .20** –.01 –.08 .04 .30**
Algeria 193 .33** .06 –.07 .01 .13 .31**
Botswana 50 –.12 .51** .07 –.12 .12 .34*
Rwanda 200 –.01 .41** .14 –.25** –.05 .37**
East Asian countries
Predictions
+
ns ns
+ +
Group 749 .32** .06 –.12 .12 .21** .22**
Hong Kong 203 .32** .06 –.09 .20** .17* .23**
South Korea 194 .30** .04 –.07 .01 .17* .28**
Taiwan 352 .35** .07 –.13 .12 .26** .19*
IDS = independent self-construal; ITS = interdependent self-construal; LS = life satisfaction; NA = negative affect;
PA = positive affect.
*p < .05. **p < .01.
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Cheng et al. 847
consistent with the predictions of the interdependence model (M
2.2
). For Algeria, however, posi-
tive links between independent self-construal and positive affect as well as interdependent self-
construal and life satisfaction were found. This pattern of results seemed to be more similar to
the East Asian countries included in this study than to the other two countries within the same
geographical region (i.e., Africa), and so the interdependence model was tested again with the
Algerian data removed. Results showed that the interdependence model fit the data well for
Botswana and Rwanda but not for all three African countries combined. The integration model
(M
4.2
) was also tested again with the Algerian data combined with the East Asian countries, and
results provided support for a good fit of data for the integration model. It is worth noting the data
did not support any of the alternative models, thus providing stronger evidence for the explana-
tory power of the proposed models.
General Discussion
The present study extended the existing body of cross-cultural comparisons of self-construals
and subjective well-being in two ways. First, this study proposed that differences in sociocultural
characteristics should be made within the broad and heterogeneous category of collectivistic
countries. Results indicate that individuals from African countries and those from East Asian coun-
tries differ in levels of independent self-construal, interdependent self-construal, positive affect,
and negative affect. Such results provide some empirical support for distinguishing among col-
lectivistic countries with different extents of societal modernization.
Second, we tested three cultural models that explicate the relationship between dimensions of
self-construal and components of subjective well-being for Western, African, and East Asian
Table 4. Goodness of Fit Indices for Four Cultural Models and Alternative Models
Cultural Model n χ
2
df p CFI RMSEA
Hypothesized models
M
1
: Independence 791
a
1.42 2 .49 1.00 .00
M
2.1
: Interdependence 443
b
12.02 2 .002 .95 .11
M
2.2
: Interdependence 250
c
1.97 2 .37 1.00 .00
M
3.1
: Conflict 749
d
49.06 1 < .001 .81 .25
M
3.2
: Conflict 942
e
66.95 1 < .001 .79 .27
M
.4.1
: Integration 749
d
2.90 1 .09 .99 .05
M
.4.2
: Integration 942
e
3.59 1 .06 .99 .05
Alternative models
f
M
A.11
: Interdependence 791
a
279.20 2 < .001 .01 .35
M
A.12
: Conflict 791
a
111.73 1 < .001 .64 .38
M
A.13
: Integration 791
a
218.83 1 < .001 .50 .24
M
A.21
: Independence 443
b
94.57 2 < .001 .36 .27
M
A.22
: Conflict 443
b
49.06 1 < .001 .77 .34
M
A.23
: Integration 443
b
98.55 1 < .001 .61 .21
M
A.31
: Independence 749
d
87.27 2 < .001 .60 .20
M
A.32
: Interdependence 749
d
128.00 2 < .001 .35 .24
a. Including participants from Germany, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States.
b. Including participants from Algeria, Botswana, and Rwanda.
c. Including participants from Botswana and Rwanda.
d. Including participants from Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan.
e. Including participants from Algeria, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan.
f. Alternative models refer to models other than the hypothesized model that was proposed to fit a particular data
set of a country.
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
848 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 42(5)
countries. An independence model, which emphasizes the role of independent self-construal on
subjective well-being, was proposed to be relevant to the Western countries. An interdependence
model, which emphasizes the role of interdependent self-construal on subjective well-being, was
proposed to be relevant to the African countries. An integration model, which emphasizes that
both independent and interdependent self-construals are important, was proposed to be relevant
to East Asian countries.
The present results were largely consistent with the predictions of the independence model
and the integration model in revealing that self-construal was related to both positive affect and
life satisfaction. However, it is important to note that the hypothesized link between self-construal
and negative affect was not found. This result may be accounted for by the two-factor model of
affect (e.g., Diener & Lucas, 2000; Watson & Tellegen, 1985), which proposes that positive affect
and negative affect are separate entities rather than two opposite poles within the same continuum.
Positive affect and negative affect are produced by distinct psychological processes and are asso-
ciated with different sets of correlates. Consistent with the two-factor model of affect, the present
study shows that self-construal is associated with positive affect but a reliable link between self-
construal and negative affect is absent in most of the countries.
Regional Differences in Psychological Characteristics Among African Countries
It is important to note that the interdependence model was largely applicable to Botswana and
Rwanda but not to Algeria. It is noteworthy that Algeria, which is located in northern Africa, is
different from the two sub-Saharan African countries in significant ways. Specifically, Algeria
is geographically located near the Southern European coasts. The social and political develop-
ment of Algeria has historically experienced stronger European influences than the two sub-
Saharan African countries. More importantly, Algeria has embarked on industrialization programs
as a major policy since the 1970s. Such economic reform has resulted in a transformation of an
agrarian economy to a largely industrial one. Industrialization has created more opportunities for
state-sponsored education and employment among people in Algeria, including women who
traditionally took up family and domestic roles (Moghadam, 1993). The economic changes in
Algeria has brought about a gradual weakening of the patriarchal social system and blurring of
traditional gender roles as people become more receptive to modern values, such as individual
rights and gender equality (Mehdid, 1993). Because Algeria has undergone socioeconomic
development in the past decades, both traditional collectivistic values and modern individualistic
values may influence its people in a way similar to that of East Asia.
By contrast, the economic growth of sub-Saharan African countries has been slow in the
recent past (Inglehart, 1997). The low rate of industrialization in these countries is attributed to
a myriad of obstacles, such as a dearth of trained human resources and political instability
(Ghosh, 1984). Although World Bank data have revealed a global trend of economic growth and
decline in poverty rate, it is noteworthy that such trends are found in most countries in the world,
including the North African region, but not the sub-Saharan African region (Fischer, 2003).
Economic underdevelopment may impede social changes in Botswana and Rwanda. In these
sub-Saharan countries, the group rather than the individual still remains a major force determin-
ing what constitutes a “good life.” In these societies, the group refers to not only the family but
also the clan or tribe (see, e.g., Allen & Williams, 1982; Green, 1986). The group can have influ-
ences on various major life tasks, such as family decision-making, marriage, conflict resolution
among couples, and even choice of business and business associates (see, e.g., Iliffe, 1995; Mair,
1969). The influence of the group or the extended family system still prevails in most sub-
Saharan countries (Iliffe, 1995), and this may explain in part why the interdependence model is
more relevant to Botswana and Rwanda than to Algeria.
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Cheng et al. 849
It is also possible that the present unexpected results are attributable to the language of the
questionnaire. A variety of African and European languages were used in the two sub-Saharan
African countries. Questionnaires in English, a common language among university students in
Botswana and Rwanda, were administered in these countries. These respondents’ greater ten-
dency toward interdependence could possibly be explained by the ethnic affirmation hypothesis
(K. S. Yang & Bond, 1980), which proposes that participants’ awareness of their own ethnicity
may be aroused when they complete a questionnaire written in a nonnative language. As a con-
sequence of increased sensitivity to their ethnic uniqueness, participants may give more extreme
responses in a direction valued by their own culture when they answer a questionnaire in a non-
native language.
In light of the ethnic affirmation hypothesis, the English language of the questionnaire may
function as a cue that directs the attention of participants from Botswana and Rwanda to their
ethnicity as well as the beliefs and attitudes emphasized by their collectivistic culture. Although
participants from Algeria also completed their questionnaires in a nonnative (i.e., Arabic) lan-
guage, the ethnic affirmation effects of the Arabic language may be weaker than those of the
English language, which is the native language of many Western countries. Such a possibility
remains unknown because the ethnic affirmation hypothesis has not been tested in any studies
that compared the use of African and English questionnaires. Future studies may be conducted
to examine the ethnic affirmation effects on African participants who complete questionnaires in
English or other European languages and those who complete questionnaires in their native
African language.
Theoretical and Research Implications for Cross-Cultural Comparison
The present results may have broader theoretical and research implications. Triandis’s (1994,
1995) theory of individualism-collectivism has been widely adopted to explicate cultural differ-
ences in social behavior. Individualism-collectivism is postulated as a major dimension along
which individuals from distinct cultural background vary. When making cross-cultural compari-
sons, the psychological characteristics of people from individualistic countries are compared to
those of people from collectivistic countries. Instead of viewing individualism and collectivism
as two extreme poles within a single dimension, the present findings suggest a more complex
view of the cultural syndrome. For some countries, the two clusters of seemingly opposing cul-
tural values may be regarded as more or less equal in importance. The socioeconomic context of
a country may play a role in influencing whether one of the cultural values dominates or both
coexist in a well-integrated manner.
The present findings shed light on the process of modernization as another important dimen-
sion on which individuals differ systematically. To date, the degree and types of socioeconomic
development have received scant attention in the existing literature. Future theorizing and
research on cross-national comparison may benefit from an integration of the cross-cultural theo-
ries of individualism-collectivism and sociological theories of modernization. Recent studies
have provided some evidence demonstrating how such an integration can take place in the age of
globalization when individuals are exposed to a variety of cultural stimuli. For instance, the
study by Fu and Chiu (2007) documented that Hong Kong students tend to associate traditional
Chinese cultural values with exemplary figures from China but to associate Western cultural
values with those from the West. C. Cheng and Chun (2008) also found that although Hong
Kong students were generally less assertive than their North American counterparts, Hong Kong
students displayed similar levels of assertive responses in agentic events. In another study (J. Chen,
Chiu, & Chan, in press), Chinese students were found to place more weight on role personalities
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
850 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 42(5)
when predicting job performance than their North American counterparts. However, when North
American students were asked to imagine themselves working in a country with a different set
of cultural values (i.e., low job mobility), they became motivated to meet cultural expectations
by placing greater emphases on role personalities. A recent study further indicates that Chinese
students can flexibly switch their cultural frames when processing distinct culture-related infor-
mation (C. Cheng, Wang, & Golden, in press).
This integrative approach allows a more refined categorization of countries, such as further
dividing collectivistic countries into modern and traditional subcategories. An index should be
developed to reflect differences in the pace of socioeconomic transformation among countries,
and this new index should be included together with existing cultural indices in future multina-
tional comparisons. Such nuanced distinctions among countries may enhance the explanatory
and predictive power of findings yielded from these studies.
Adopting the proposed integrative approach, future work on multinational research should be
devoted to explore the usefulness and predictive ability of cultural index values for understudied
countries such as those in Africa. Cultural index values have been developed by psychologists
(e.g., Hofstede, 2001; Suh et al., 1998) to reflect the characteristics of the cultural value system
of a country. Such a value is useful for multinational studies in comparing the value systems
among different countries. However, only regional index values have been given for African
countries. For instance, Hofstede (2001) assigned cultural index values to the two broad group-
ings of Eastern and Western African countries. As discussed previously, the pace and pattern of
development of countries within the same region can vary considerably. Such regional indices
may be too broad to provide an accurate description of individual African countries from a region.
The present results revealed considerable differences in psychological mechanisms underlying
subjective well-being among three African countries that were studied, indicating a need to dis-
tinguish the cultural values among the many countries in the African continent. In light of these
results, we propose that a cultural index value should be assigned for each individual African
country to allow for a better understanding of the sociocultural dynamisms that have taken place
in this large, multi-ethnic continent in the past decades.
Research Caveats and Concluding Remarks
Before concluding, several research caveats should be observed. Caution should be taken when
interpreting the present results because a cross-sectional design was adopted in this study. The
directionality of associations among variables thus remains inconclusive. Although it is tempting
to conclude that cultural self-construal may exert an influence on components of subjective well-
being, it is equally possible that individuals’ level of subjective well-being may influence the
way they construe themselves. For instance, individuals from Western countries who experience
a high level of subjective well-being may tend to think about themselves in a way consistent with
their cultural values (i.e., independence). To clarify the predictive relationships among the psy-
chological variables, future studies should adopt a longitudinal or cross-lagged panel design.
Although this research design cannot make strong conclusions about the direction of causality,
using such a design together with partial correlation methods allows inferences to be made about
the directionality of relationships.
It is also worth noting that each broad sociocultural group consisted of three to four countries
in this study. The scope of each sociocultural group may be expanded by including a greater
number and variety of countries. Although societal modernization has generally taken place in
most Asian countries over the past few years, it will be worthwhile to explore the small number
of Asian countries in which socioeconomic development has just started, such as North Korea
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Cheng et al. 851
and Cambodia. Moreover, the present study revealed considerable sociocultural differences
among individuals from various African countries. Such intracontinental differences should be
further explored by including more African countries.
It is important to reiterate that the present results were derived from a single method of self-
report questionnaires. Also, participants were all university students, who are relatively homoge-
neous in age and educational level. The sources of subjective well-being of university students
may differ from the sources of subjective well-being of people in different age groups or those
who received less education. Because the university attendance rates are much lower in sub-
Saharan African countries than the Western and East Asian countries (UNESCO, 2007), the pres-
ent samples of African university students may not be representative of African adults in general.
The present results should be replicated with studies that adopt alternative methods (e.g., peer
report, observation) with samples having more heterogeneous demographic characteristics.
To conclude, this study tested four cultural models—independence, interdependence, conflict,
and integration models—that explicate the relationships between dimensions of self-construal and
components of subjective well-being among countries with distinct sociocultural characteristics.
Findings provided some support for the applicability of the independence model to individuals
from several Western countries and the applicability of the integration model to individuals from
some East Asian countries. However, more complex patterns have been identified among the
African countries. The interdependence model seems to be more applicable to individuals from
sub-Saharan countries such as Botswana and Rwanda but not to individuals from Algeria in
northern Africa. The patterns of results for Algeria, which has embarked on industrialization
programs, seem to be more similar to those for the East Asian countries.
Acknowledgments
The authors would like to thank Ron Fischer for comments on earlier drafts of this article; and Eva Chan,
Kathleen Chan, Sally Chan, Kin-yu Fung, Kin-tong Kwan, Gigi Lam, Pui-kin Ser, and Jane Tsoi for clerical
and research assistance.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The authors declared that they had no conflicts of interests with respect to their authorship or the publica-
tion of this article.
Financial Disclosure/Funding
Preparation of this article was supported by Research Grants Council’s Competitive Earmarked Research
Grant HKU6233/04H and Seed Funding Programme 200711159093 to Cecilia Cheng.
References
Allen, C., & Williams, G. (1982). Sub-Saharan Africa. New York: Monthly Review Press.
Argyle, M. (2001). The psychology of happiness (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.
Ayyash-Abdo, H., & Alamuddin, R. (2007). Predictors of subjective well-being among college youth in
Lebanon. Journal of Social Psychology, 147, 265-284.
Bandura, A. (2002). Social cognitive theory in cultural context. Applied Psychology: An International Review,
51, 269-290.
Benet-Martinez, V., & Haritatos, J. (2005). Bicultural identity integration (BII): Components and psycho-
social antecedents. Journal of Personality, 73, 1015-1050.
Bentler, P. M., & Wu, E. J. C. (2004). EQS for Windows user’s guide. Encino, CA: Multivariate Software
Inc.
Berenbaum, H. (2002). Varieties of joy-related pleasurable activities and feelings. Cognition & Emotion,
16, 473-494.
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
852 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 42(5)
Billet, B. L. (1993). Modernization theory and economic development: Discontent in the developing world.
Westport, CT: Praeger.
Brislin, R. W. (1986). The wording and translation of research instruments. In W. J. Loner & J. W. Berry
(Eds.), Field methods in cross-cultural research (pp. 137-164). Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE.
Byrne, B. M. (2001). Structural equation modeling with AMOS: Basic concepts, applications, and pro-
gramming. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Cha, K. (2003). Subjective well-being among college students. Social Indicators Research, 62-63, 455-477.
Chang, W. C., Wong, W. K., & Koh, J. B. K. (2003). Chinese values in Singapore: Traditional and modern.
Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 6, 5-29.
Chen, F. F. (2008). What happens if we compare chopsticks with forks? The impact of making inappropriate
comparisons in cross-cultural research. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 1005-1018.
Chen, J., Chiu, C., & Chan, F. S. (in press). The cultural effects of job mobility and the belief in a fixed
world: Evidence from performance forecast. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Cheng, C., & Chun, W. Y. (2008). Cultural differences and similarities in request rejection: A situational
approach. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 39, 745-764.
Cheng, C., Lee, F., & Benet-Martinez, V. (2006). Assimilation and contrast effects in cultural frame switch-
ing: Bicultural identity integration and valence of cultural cues. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology,
37, 742-760.
Cheng, C., Wang, F., & Golden, D. L. (in press). Unpackaging cultural differences in interpersonal flexibil-
ity: Role of culture-related personality and situational factors. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology.
Cheng, H., & Furnham, A. (2001). Attributional style and personality as predictors of happiness and mental
health. Journal of Happiness Studies, 2, 307-327.
Cheung, G. W., & Rensvold, R. B. (2002). Evaluating goodness-of-fit indexes for testing measurement
invariance. Structural Equation Modeling, 9, 233-255.
Chirkov, V., Ryan, R. M., Kim, Y., & Kaplan, U. (2003). Differentiating autonomy from individualism and
independence: A self-determination theory perspective on internalization of cultural orientations and
well-being. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 84, 97-109.
Cronbach, L., & Gleser, G. (1953). Assessing similarity between profiles. Psychological Bulletin, 50,
456-473.
Deutsch, F. M. (2004). How parents influence the life plans of graduating Chinese university students.
Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 35, 393-421.
Dien, D. S. (1983). Big me and little me: A Chinese perspective on self. Psychiatry: Journal for the Study
of Interpersonal Processes, 46, 281-286.
Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The Satisfaction With Life Scale. Journal
of Personality Assessment, 49, 71-75.
Diener, E., & Lucas, R. E. (2000). Explaining differences in societal levels of happiness: Relative stan-
dards, need fulfillment, culture and evaluation theory. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1, 41-78.
Dierk, J., Conradt, M., Rauh, E., Schlumberger, P., Hebebrand, J., & Rief, W. (2006). What determines
well-being in obesity? Associations with BMI, social skills, and social support. Journal of Psychoso-
matic Research, 60, 219-227.
Dorahy, M. J., Lewis, C. A., Schumaker, J. F., Akuamoah-Boateng, R., Duze, M. C., & Sibiya, T. E. (1998).
A cross-cultural analysis of religion and life satisfaction. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 1, 37-43.
Egloff, B., Schmukle, S. C., Burns, L. R., Kohlmann, C., & Hock, M. (2003). Facets of dynamic posi-
tive affect: Differentiating joy, interest, and activation in the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule
(PANAS). Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 85, 528-540.
Fischer, S. (2003). Globalization and its challenges. American Economic Review, 93, 1-30.
Friedlmeier, W., Schafermeier, E., Vasconcellos, V., & Trommsdorff, G. (2008). Self-construal and cul-
tural orientation as predictors for developmental goals: A comparison between Brazilian and German
caregivers. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 5, 39-67.
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Cheng et al. 853
Fu, J. H., & Chiu, C. (2007). Local culture’s responses to globalization: Exemplary persons and their atten-
dant values. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 38, 636-653.
Furnham, A., & Petrides, K. V. (2003). Trait emotional intelligence and happiness. Social Behavior &
Personality, 31, 815-824.
Ghosh, P. K. (1984). Developing Africa: A modernization perspective. Westport, CT: Greenwood.
Goodman, C. C., & Silverstein, M. (2005). Latina grandmothers raising grandchildren: Acculturation and
psychological well-being. International Journal of Aging & Human Development, 60, 305-316.
Goodwin, R., Cook, O., & Yung, Y. (2001). Loneliness and life satisfaction among three cultural groups.
Personal Relationships, 8, 225-230.
Green, R. H. (1986). Sub-Saharan Africa: Poverty of development, development of poverty. Brighton, UK: IDS.
Hofstede, G. H. (2001). Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organiza-
tions across nations (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Hong, Y., Ip, G., Chiu, C., Morris, M. W., & Menon, T. (2001). Cultural identity and dynamic construction
of the self: Collective duties and individual rights in Chinese and American cultures. Social Cognition,
19, 251-268.
Hong, Y., Morris, M. W., Chiu, C., & Benet-Martinez, V. (2000). Multicultural minds: A dynamic con-
structivist approach to culture and cognition. American Psychologist, 55, 709-720.
Hwang, C. H. (1989). A follow-up study on the psychological needs of Chinese university students. Bul-
letin of Educational Psychology, 22, 1-21.
Iliffe, J. (1995). Africans: The history of a continent. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Inglehart, R. (1997). Modernization and postmodernization: Cultural, economic, and political changes in
43 societies. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Inglehart, R., & Welzel, C. (2005). Modernization, cultural change, and democracy: The human develop-
ment sequence. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
International Monetary Fund (2008). World Economic Outlook Database. Washington, DC: Author.
Inumiya, Y., Choi, I., Yoon, D., Seo, D., & Han, S. L. (1999). The relationship between unrealistic opti-
mism and independent-interdependent construals of self in Korean culture. Korean Journal of Social &
Personality Psychology, 13, 183-201.
Kim, J., & Hatfield, E. (2004). Love types and subjective well-being: A cross cultural study. Social Behavior
& Personality, 32, 173-182.
Kitayama, S., Markus, H. R., & Matsumoto, H. (1995). Culture, self, and emotion: A cultural perspective
on “self-conscious” emotions. In J. P. Tangney & K. W. Fischer (Eds.), Self-conscious emotions: The
psychology of shame, guilt, embarrassment, and pride (pp. 439-464). New York: Guilford.
Kwan, V. S. Y., Bond, M. H., & Singelis, T. M. (1997). Pancultural explanations for life satisfaction: Add-
ing relationship harmony to self-esteem. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 73, 1038-1051.
Leong, F. T., & Chang, W. C. (2003). Traditionality/modernity as a psychological construct: Current
research and future directions. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 6, 1-4.
Lewis, W. A. (1955). The theory of economic growth. London: George Allen & Unwin.
Lu, L., Gilmour, R., & Kao, S. (2001). Cultural values and happiness: An East-West dialogue. Journal of
Social Psychology, 141, 477-493.
Lu, L., & Kao, S. (2002). Traditional and modern characteristics across the generations: Similarities and
discrepancies. Journal of Social Psychology, 142, 45-59.
Lu, L., & Yang, K.- S. (2006). Emergence and composition of the traditional-modern bicultural self of
people in contemporary Taiwanese societies. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 9, 167-175.
Mair, L. P. (1969). African marriage and social change. London: Cass.
Marar, Z. (2004). The happiness paradox. London: Reaktion.
Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and moti-
vation. Psychological Review, 98, 224-253.
Maslow, A. H. (1968). Toward a psychology of being (2nd ed.). Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand.
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
854 Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 42(5)
Mehdid, M. (1993). Tradition and subversion: Gender and post-colonial feminism, the case of the Arab
region (with particular reference to Algeria). Coventry, UK: University of Warwick.
Moghadam, V. M. (1993). Modernizing women: Gender and social change in the Middle East. Boulder,
CO: L. Rienner.
Moore, W. E. (1963). Social change. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Oishi, S., & Diener, E. (2001). Goals, culture, and subjective well-being. Personality and Social Psychol-
ogy Bulletin, 27, 1674-1682.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2009). OECD Factbook 2008: Economic,
environmental and social statistics. Paris: Author.
Pek, J. C., & Leong, F. T. (2003). Sex-related self-concepts, cognitive styles and cultural values of
traditionality-modernity as predictors of general and domain-specific sexism. Asian Journal of Social
Psychology, 6, 31-49.
Raudenbush, S., Bryk, A., & Congdon, R. (2008). HLM 6.06: Hierarchical linear and nonlinear modeling
(2nd ed.). Chicago: Scientific Software International.
Rogers, C. R. (1961). On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Rogers, C. R. (1980). A way of being. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Singelis, T. M. (1994). The measurement of independent and interdependent self-construals. Personality &
Social Psychology Bulletin, 20, 580-591.
Singelis, T. M., Bond, M. H., Sharkey, W. F., & Lai, C. S. Y. (1999). Unpackaging culture’s influence on
self-esteem and embarrassability: The role of self-construals. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology,
30, 315-341.
Skinner, H. (1978). Differentiating the contribution of elevation, scatter, and shape in profile similarity.
Educational and Psychological Measurement, 38, 297-308.
Suh, E., Diener, E., Oishi, S., & Triandis, H. C. (1998). The shifting basis of life satisfaction judgments
across cultures: Emotions versus norms. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 482-493.
Sui, J., Zhu, Y., & Chiu, C.- y. (2007). Bicultural mind, self-construal, and self- and mother-reference
effects: Consequences of cultural priming on recognition memory. Journal of Experimental Social Psy-
chology, 43, 818-824.
Sundrum, R. M. (1991). Economic growth in theory and practice. New York: St. Martin’s.
Thomsen, L., Sidanius, J., & Fiske, A. P. (2007). Interpersonal leveling, independence, and self-enhancement:
A comparison between Denmark and the US, and a relational practice framework for cultural psychology.
European Journal of Social Psychology, 37, 445-469.
Tiliouine, H., Cummins, R. A., & Davern, M. (2004). Measuring wellbeing in developing countries: The
case of Algeria. Social Indicators Research, 75, 1-30.
Triandis, H. C. (1994). Culture and social behavior. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Triandis, H. C. (1995). Individualism and collectivism. Boulder, CO: Westview.
Triandis, H. C. (1996). The psychological measurement of cultural syndromes. American Psychologist, 51,
407-415.
Uchida, Y., Norasakkunkit, V., & Kitayama, S. (2004). Cultural constructions of happiness: Theory and
empirical evidence. Journal of Happiness Studies, 5, 223-239.
UNESCO. (2007). Global education digest 2007: Comparing education statistics across the world. Mon-
treal, Quebec, Canada: UNESCO Institute for Statistics.
Veenhoven, R. (1994). Is happiness a trait? Tests of the theory that a better society does not make people
any happier. Social Indicators Research, 32, 101-160.
Vitterso, J., Biswas-Diener, R., & Diener, E. (2005). The divergent meanings of life satisfaction: Item
response modeling of the Satisfaction with Life Scale in Greenland and Norway. Social Indicators
Research, 74, 327-348.
Wang, C. D. C., & Mallinckrodt, B. S. (2006). Differences between Taiwanese and U.S. cultural beliefs
about ideal adult attachment. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 53, 192-204.
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Cheng et al. 855
Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive
and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 54, 1063-1070.
Watson, D., & Tellegen, A. (1985). Toward a consensual structure of mood. Psychological Bulletin, 98,
219-235.
Weiner, M. (1966). Modernization: The dynamics of growth. New York: Basic Books.
World Bank Group (2008). World Development Indicators Database. Washington, DC: Author.
World Values Survey Organization. (2009). World Values Survey official aggregate data file, 2005-2008
wave [computer file]. Madrid, Spain: An´alisis Sociol´ogicos, Econ´omicos y Pol´ıticos/JD Systems
(APES/JDS) [Distributor].
Yang, K. S. (1996). The psychological transformation of the Chinese people as a result of societal modern-
ization. In M. H. Bond (Ed.), The handbook of Chinese psychology (pp. 470-498). Hong Kong: Oxford
University Press.
Yang, K. S., & Bond, M. H. (1980). Ethnic affirmation by Chinese bilinguals. Journal of Cross-Cultural
Psychology, 11, 411-425.
Yang, R. P., Noels, K. A., & Saumure, K. D. (2006). Multiple routes to cross-cultural adaptation for inter-
national students: Mapping the paths between self-construals, English language confidence, and adjust-
ment. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 30, 487-506.
Zhang, W., Jing, D., & Schick, C. J. (2004). The cross-cultural measurement of positive and negative affect
examining the dimensionality of PANAS. Psychological Science (China), 27, 77-79.
Zhang, X., Zheng, X., & Wang, L. (2003). Comparative research on individual modernity of adolescents
between town and countryside in China. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 6, 61-73.
at Victoria Univ of Wellington on October 24, 2011jcc.sagepub.comDownloaded from
... Instead, the swing between interdependent and independent self-construals develops as a new trend in Westernized Asian societies such as Singapore (Ng and Lai, 2010;Kumar, 2013). It is imperative to examine dual self-construal considering the wideranging influence that self-construal has on societal outcomes from altruism (Dogan and Tiltay, 2020), environmental behavior (Dogan and Ozmen, 2019), conflict management (Oetzel, 1998), and subjective well-being (Cheng et al., 2011). ...
... While past research evidenced that processes like Westernization may facilitate the endorsement of an independent self-construal in collectivistic societies (Cheng et al., 2011), no studies have yet examined the specific contextual factors that are involved in cultivating dual self-construal. As part of the modernization argument, researchers have contested that tertiary education is a key agent of transformation for young adults' sense of self Kitayama, 1991, 2010). ...
Article
Full-text available
While cultural difference on self-construal are well-documented, how acculturation to a new cultural environment could change an individual’s self-construal remains under-explored. In this research, how tertiary education disciplines could be associated with the endorsement of self-construals which, in turn, affect students’ conflict management tendencies were explored. Study 1 revealed that across the United States and Singapore, college students from business and social science disciplines exhibited the trend of endorsing more independent and interdependent self-construal respectively, regardless of the different dominant self-construals in the two countries. Study 2 explored how tertiary education disciplines is associated with individuals’ conflict management tendencies via the endorsement of different self-construals among Singaporeans. Findings showed that individuals from business discipline possess a more independent self-construal and in turn endorsed more of a competing conflict management style than those from social sciences. Different disciplinary cultures could link to conflict management tendencies via the endorsement of self-construals, yielding significant theoretical and practical implications.
... This may be particularly true of various Chinese societies, because economic growth may lead both individualism and collectivism to be important factors in predicting SWB (Lu and Yang 2006). There was some support for the relevance of such a hybrid model in modernized East Asian societies (Cheng et al. 2011;Tamis-LeMonda et al. 2008). ...
Chapter
Full-text available
This entry updates the 2011 first edition’s entry on “Chinese Values” (Zhang & Kulich) the Encyclopedia of QoL and Well-Being Research. It builds on the long and ongoing history of and interdisciplinary interest in values studies (Kulich, 2009). The article first revisits classic definitions, considers the scale of socioeconomic changes and the acceleration of globalization, intercultural exchange since then and poses an updated definition: “Values represent a reflexive psychological construct, dependent on how they are constructively framed or contextually elicited. They are operative at multiple levels, from projecting shared meta-values across ‘cultures’ to priming micro-value subsets that guide individualized decisions, behaviors, or responses” (Kulich 2011, p. 532). Chinese values typically refer to a subset of values considered to have originated from China and hence characteristic of groups or communities of people. It then provides a description, and then discusses three ways in which Chinese Values are researched as multifaceted and multilevel constructs: (1) levels of analysis, (2) emic versus etic approaches, and (3) explicit/direct versus implicit/indirect measurements. Key topics include: (A) Who Are “the Chinese?” Multiple Voices and Positions (Chinese values are generally seen as a distinct set of cultural orientations broadly affirmed or maintained by people of Chinese descent in their respective societies, such that cross-cultural and indigenous research has focused on identifying the unique structure of Chinese values - see Kulich & Zhang 2010). (B) Geopolitical Differentiation (examining variations in Greater China regions: the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong SAR, and Taiwan, or diaspora locations such as Singapore, and the value differences due to ideological, political, or geo-economic factors as noted in the ongoing waves of the WVS). (C) Socioeconomic Development and Cultural Change (as noted in Kulich & Zhang, 2010, Chinese societies are in transition and tensions between traditional and modern, imported values, with shifts from collectivism to individualism, new integration or hybrid (yin/yang) expressions in the relative priority of values, ever more adaptive to urban, market-oriented, and technology-driven environments, more self-expression, desire for material possessions, promotion of individual autonomy, and need for uniqueness. Yet some persistent Chinese values remain e.g., filial piety, family, face, doctrine of the mean, and Confucian ethics, which co-exist in duality or emerging biculturality). (D) The Chinese Diaspora (under displacement and historic migrations, this search a unifying Chinese identity is seen among overseas Chinese scholars trying to homogenize Chinese culture, or Chineseness, to the point of essentializing it, reflecting the ways that Chinese identity is negotiated, contested, or evolving in specific contexts). (E) Integration: The Cultural Fit Hypothesis (considering the interest in cultural change, broadly defined collectivistic countries differ in the extent of societal development within themselves, thus integrative models that are needed that incorporate both economic and cultural factors to test their potentially interactive effects on SWB and hybridity. In conclusion, the competing or conflicting cultural meanings in contemporary Chinese societies creates a mélange of traditional, modern Chinese, and imported Western values that need to be disentangled and both demographically and contextually assessed. Yet, the overarching sense of “Chinese cultural values” and their further study may provide a basis of meaning for many people of Chinese descent in varied contexts.
... The study was conducted in Hong Kong and the sample comprises Chinese parent-child dyads. As there are considerable cultural differences in parenting style and experience of psychological well-being [95][96][97][98], the present findings may not be generalizable to parents and children residing in other cultural regions. Future studies should be conducted in different countries to evaluate the extent of generalizability in the present findings. ...
Article
Full-text available
Nowadays, playing both online and offline video games is a popular leisure activity among youngsters, but excessive gaming activity engagement may lead to gaming disorder that disrupts daily functioning. Identifying risk and protective factors of this emerging problem is thus essential for devising prevention and intervention strategies. This mixed-method, cross-sectional study aimed to examine the roles of parental depressive symptoms and children’s leisure activity engagement on children’s gaming disorder symptoms. Furthermore, the moderating roles of risky and protective leisure activity engagement were investigated. The sample comprised 104 parent-child dyads recruited from a population-based survey (parents: Mage = 45.59 years, SD = 6.70; children: Mage = 11.26 years; SD = 4.12). As predicted, parental depressive symptoms and children’s gaming activity engagement were positively associated with children’s gaming disorder symptoms, whereas children’s literacy activity engagement was negatively associated with these symptoms. Moreover, engagement in these two types of leisure activity moderated the association between parental depressive symptoms and children’s gaming disorder symptoms in distinct manners, further indicating literacy activities as beneficial and gaming activities as risk-enhancing. These new findings imply that parental depressive symptoms and children’s leisure activity engagement should be considered when designing parent-based programs for gaming disorder prevention and intervention.
... 494). This focus is different from that of Eastern traditions which are more interdependent and collectivistic (Cheng et al., 2011;Gao et al., 2010;Sharf, 2015). As such, it has been argued that applications of mindfulness in the West are prone to cultivating, amplifying, enabling, and aggrandizing the personal self with too little focus on the broader relational and even transcendental aspects of the human experience (Kirmayer, 2015;Sharf, 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives One of the primary goals of Buddhist-inspired mindfulness practice is to enable practitioners to gain insight into the nature of the self and, as a result, increase their wellbeing. To empirically investigate how mindfulness impacts the self, researchers must effectively explicate the self and hone the methods used to study it. The current study systematically reviews the conceptualization and study of the self within the mindfulness literature. Methods Searches were carried out in PsycINFO, MEDLINE, and EMBASE databases. All empirical and non-empirical studies available in full text that included a conceptualization of the self within a mindfulness-based framework or intervention were included. The outcomes were theories of the self that were examined using a narrative synthesis. Results A total of 51 empirical and 63 non-empirical articles were identified as directly investigating the self within the mindfulness literature. Of these, most studies investigated intrapersonal aspects of the self, followed by relational and transcendental aspects. The greatest complexity in the way that the self was studied and the highest integration between theoretical and empirical investigations was seen in the study of intrapersonal aspects, followed by relational and transcendental aspects. With regard to the way in which theories inform empirical investigations, most empirical studies were informed by neuroscience and psychological theories rather than Buddhist-based theories. Conclusions The results highlight a need for a more holistic approach in the study of the self by incorporating different aspects of the self and by better integrating theories of the self and their related empirical investigations. Systematic review registration PROSPERO 2019; ID: 192,073.
... Dialectical thinking influences how people evaluate themselves, their lives, and their subjective wellbeing. Cross-cultural research shows that East Asians report less positive affect, lower life satisfaction, and lower subjective wellbeing than Westerners (Lee and Seligman, 1997;Kitayama et al., 2000;Spencer-Rodgers et al., 2004;Lee and Wu, 2008;Cheng et al., 2011;Wong et al., 2011). ...
Article
Full-text available
Our current work examined the interface between thinking style and emotional experience at both the behavioral and neuropsychological levels. Thirty-nine Chinese participants completed the triad task, and we calculated the rate of individually selected relationship pairings to overall selections to represent their holistic thinking tendencies. In addition, participants in the top one-third of the ratio score were classified into the high holistic thinking group, while those in the bottom one-third of the ratio score were classified into the low holistic thinking group. We used the sensitivity to punishment and sensitivity to reward questionnaire (SPSRQ) to examine how people elicit positive and negative affective behaviors. Additionally, we examined the volume of the amygdala and nucleus accumbens and their functional connectivity in the resting-state. We found that high holistic thinkers were much less sensitive to rewards than low holistic thinkers. In other words, individuals with high holistic thinking are less likely to pursue behaviors that have positive emotional outcomes. Furthermore, their bilateral nucleus accumbens and right amygdala volumes were smaller than those of low holistic thinkers. Hierarchical regression analysis showed that holistic thinking tendency can negatively predict the volume of the left nucleus accumbens and right amygdala. Finally, resting-state functional connectivity results showed increased functional connectivity FC between left nucleus accumbens and bilateral amygdala in high holistic thinkers. These findings provide emotion-related manifestations of thinking styles at the behavioral and neural levels.
... Although self-reports provide valuable information and emerging adults' perceptions may be more "real" than reality itself, other sources of information, such as parental ratings on their parenting behaviors or physiological data related to stress responses, would provide a more comprehensive understanding of the relations studied here. Second, although we assumed that our samples predominantly embraced collectivistic cultural values, the drastic socioeconomic transformation and societal modernization in South Korea might yield individual variations in cultural self-construal (e.g., Cheng et al., 2011). Moreover, research suggests that the millennial generation is more individualistic than other generations (Greenfield, 2013). ...
Article
Full-text available
Emerging adulthood is a developmental period marked by numerous life transitions, leading emerging adults to be susceptible to distress and related psychological risks. The current study investigated the effects of socially prescribed perfectionism and parental autonomy support on psychological stress among emerging adults. We implemented a two-wave longitudinal design spanning a six-month period and latent moderation structural equations, based on data collected from 220 South Korean emerging adults (103 males, aged from 21 to 31 years). Our findings indicated that socially prescribed perfectionism predicted longitudinal increases in perceived stress, whereas parental autonomy support did not. Moderation analysis revealed that for those with high socially prescribed perfectionism, more parental autonomy support was related to greater increases in perceived stress. The results suggested that the effect of parental autonomy support may not be universally beneficial to children’s psychological distress. Rather, the effect might vary depending on cultural context and children’s individual differences.
... The samples were recruited from the United Kingdom and the United States because members of both countries are the largest body of consumers of the English version of the BSMAS. These countries are appropriate for sample replication because they are highly similar in their internet penetration rates, socioeconomic development, and cultural values [50,51]. Recruitment was carried out from May 18, 2020, to May 24, 2020. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background As social media is a major channel of interpersonal communication in the digital age, social media addiction has emerged as a novel mental health issue that has raised considerable concerns among researchers, health professionals, policy makers, mass media, and the general public. Objective The aim of this study is to examine the prevalence of social media addiction derived from 4 major classification schemes (strict monothetic, strict polythetic, monothetic, and polythetic), with latent profiles embedded in the empirical data adopted as the benchmark for comparison. The extent of matching between the classification of each scheme and the actual data pattern was evaluated using sensitivity and specificity analyses. The associations between social media addiction and 2 comorbid mental health conditions—depression and anxiety—were investigated. Methods A cross-sectional web-based survey was conducted, and the replicability of findings was assessed in 2 independent samples comprising 573 adults from the United Kingdom (261/573, 45.6% men; mean age 43.62 years, SD 12.24 years) and 474 adults from the United States (224/474, 47.4% men; mean age 44.67 years, SD 12.99 years). The demographic characteristics of both samples were similar to those of their respective populations. Results The prevalence estimates of social media addiction varied across the classification schemes, ranging from 1% to 15% for the UK sample and 0% to 11% for the US sample. The latent profile analysis identified 3 latent groups for both samples: low-risk, at-risk, and high-risk. The sensitivity, specificity, and negative predictive values were high (83%-100%) for all classification schemes, except for the relatively lower sensitivity (73%-74%) for the polythetic scheme. However, the polythetic scheme had high positive predictive values (88%-94%), whereas such values were low (2%-43%) for the other 3 classification schemes. The group membership yielded by the polythetic scheme was largely consistent (95%-96%) with that of the benchmark. Conclusions Among the classification schemes, the polythetic scheme is more well-balanced across all 4 indices.
... Self-construal provides a more direct link between values and a range of work orientations and behaviors (Triandis, 2004). Recent research indicated that self-construal is associated with life satisfaction (Moza et al., 2021;Suh et al., 2008;Wei et al., 2020), subjective well being (Cheng et al., 2016;Cheng et al., 2011;Novin, et al. 2014;Özcan, 2017;Yamaguchi & Kim, 2015;Yu et al., 2016), happiness (Wei et al., 2020), well-being (Maulana et al., 2021;Park et al., 2017), psychological wellbeing (Duncan et al., 2013), and academic satisfaction (Sheu et al., 2014). Specifically, Kirkman and Shapiro (2001) revealed that job satisfaction and work commitment are higher for collectivists due to low resistance to teamwork and increased willingness to delay management decisions. ...
Article
Full-text available
Culture is a broad context that has the potential to affect teachers’ job satisfaction. The present study investigated the relationships between self-construal and teacher job satisfaction in a collectivist culture. Participants of the study were 426 individuals from primary, secondary, and high schools (1st-12th grades) in a mid-sized city. Stepwise multiple regression analyses were used in the data analysis. The findings suggested that relational vertical, humanistic, and personal self-construal significantly predicted intrinsic satisfaction. Furthermore, collective horizontal and humanistic self-construal significantly predicted extrinsic satisfaction. Finally, collective horizontal, humanistic, and personal self-construal significantly predicted job satisfaction (total). These findings provide strong evidence of the explanatory power of self-construal in intrinsic satisfaction, extrinsic satisfaction, and job satisfaction (total).
Chapter
Psychology is concerned with human behaviour, therefore all psychologies are contextually-embedded and culturally informed. A movement towards globalising psychology would invariably diminish the localised socio-cultural situatedness of psychology, and instead seek to advance a dominant Euro-American centred psychology even in regions where such applications do not fit. The emergence of strong voices, and theoretically grounded and empirically supported positions from the global South in general and sub-Saharan Africa in particular, in studies of well-being allows for the opportunity to explore and describe an Africa(n) centred positive psychology. Acknowledging the limitations of cross-cultural psychological approaches, which have encouraged the uncritical transportation of Euro-American centred concepts and values, in this chapter we utilise assumptions from critical, cultural and African psychology to present our initial thoughts about a culturally embedded, socially relevant and responsive, and context respecting Africa(n) centred positive psychology. This challenge warrants consideration of early contributions to the study of well-being, its current data-driven positivist tendency, as well as African worldviews grounded in interdependence, collectivism, relatedness, harmony with nature, and spirituality. For an Africa(n) centred positive psychology, it is also essential to consider questions of epistemology, ways of knowing about the world and the human condition, context respecting knowledge, and theory building. Drawing on current scholarly evidence in sub-Saharan Africa, which emphasises relationality and societal values and norms shaping experiences of well-being, we propose future directions and discuss implications for empirical research and theory building within positive psychology which seeks to centre Africa and African experiences.
Article
Background There has been a surge in interest in examining internet gaming disorder (IGD) and its associations with gaming motivation. Three broad components of gaming motivation have been proposed: achievement, immersion, and social. Achievement-oriented players are motivated by gaining in-game rewards, immersion-oriented players are motivated by the experience of immersion in the virtual world, and social-oriented players are motivated by the need to socialize with other players through gaming. Objective This study aimed to (1) quantitatively synthesize the growing body of literature to systematically examine the discrepancies in the magnitude of associations between various components of gaming motivation and IGD and (2) examine the moderating role of cultural dimension on the association between escapism gaming motivation and IGD. Methods We conducted a systematic search of multiple databases between 2002 and 2020. Studies were included if they (1) included quantitative data, (2) used measures assessing both gaming motivation and IGD, and (3) contained sufficient information for effect size calculation. Results The findings revealed IGD to have a stronger association with achievement motivation (r=0.32) than with immersion (r=0.22) or social motivation (r=0.20), but the strongest such association was found to be with escapism motivation (r=0.40), a subcomponent of immersion motivation. Our cross-cultural comparison further showed a stronger association between escapism motivation and IGD in studies conducted in individualistic (vs collectivistic) regions. Conclusions This meta-analysis highlights the importance of acknowledging the discrepancies among different components of gaming motivation with respect to their role in the development of IGD, as well as the potential cultural variations in the strength of such associations.
Article
Full-text available
One of the ideological foundations of the modern welfare states is the belief that people can be made happier by providing them with better living conditions. This belief is challenged by the theory that happiness is a fixed 'trait', rather than a variable 'state'. This theory figures both at the individual level and at the societal level. The individual level variant depicts happiness as an aspect of personal character; rooted in inborn temperament or acquired disposition. The societal variant sees happiness as a matter of national character; embedded in shared values and beliefs. Both variants imply that a better society makes no happier people. Happiness can be regarded as a trait if it meets three criteria: (1) temporal stability, (2) cross-situational consistency, and (3) inner causation. This paper checks whether that is, indeed, the case. The theory that happiness is a personal-character-trait is tested in a (meta) analysis of longitudinal studies. The results are: (1) Happiness is quite stable on the short term, but not in the long run, neither relatively nor absoloutely. (2) Happiness is not insensitive to fortune or adversity. (3) Happiness is not entirely built-in: its genetic basis is at best modest and psychological factors explain only part of its variance. The theory that happiness is a national-character-trait is tested in an analysis of differences in average happiness between nations. The results point in the same direction: (1) Though generally fairly stable over the last decades, nation-happiness has changed profoundly in some cases, both absolutely and relatively. (2) Average happiness in nations is clearly not independant of living conditions. The better the conditions in a country, the happier its citizens. (3) The differences cannot be explained by a collective outlook on life. It is concluded that happiness is no immutable trait. There is thus still sense in striving for greater happiness for a greater number.
Article
Full-text available
On the basis of self-determination theory (R. M. Ryan & E. L. Deci, 2000) and cultural descriptions drawn from H. C. Triandis (1995), the authors hypothesized that (a) individuals from different cultures internalize different cultural practices; (b) despite these differences, the relative autonomy of individuals' motivation for those practices predicts well-being in all 4 cultures examined; and (c) horizontal practices are more readily internalized than vertical practices across all samples. Five hundred fifty-nine persons from South Korea, Russia, Turkey and the United States participated. Results supported the hypothesized relations between autonomy and well-being across cultures and gender. Results also suggested greater internalization of horizontal relative to vertical practices. Discussion focuses on the distinction between autonomy and individualism and the relative fit of cultural forms with basic psychological needs.
Chapter
The struggle against poverty and for human conditions of life by and for poor people is not new, neither is it one limited to the poor countries of the south nor is it a static one. Participation in it — from the Temple Commission on unemployment in the UK of the 1930s, through the early days of the United Nations’ economic development effort beginning at the end of the 1940s, and the International Labour Organisation’s World Employment Programme in the 1970s to his present service with UNICEF — has been an abiding and integral part of Hans Singer’s devotion to applied economics as a vocation — economics in its original Old Testament sense of stewardship and meeting material needs.1 Nor is Hans a newcomer to Africa — from the founding of the Economic Commission for Africa as the 1950s turned into the 1960s, through the 1970s Kenya ILO Employment Mission to the 1984 UNICEF State of the World’s Children Report, and study of the impact of the depression on children in Africa (Singer and Green, 1984), there is a span of twenty-five years of work.
Article
Between November and March of their senior year, eighty-four male and female graduating students at a Chinese University were interviewed about their proposed post-graduate plans and their parents' reactions to them. In May or June of the same year, they reported on the choices they had actually made and their parents' influence on those choices. Students pursued jobs, further study in China, or study in foreign countries. A majority of jobseekers had conflicts with parents, either over the type of job they sought or its distance from home. Ultimately, more than half of the students whose preferences differed from their parents acquiesced to their parents' wishes. As compared to students with siblings, however, only children were more likely to resist and follow their own inclinations. The results were discussed both in terms of the persistence of norms of filial piety and familism among educated youth, and the increasing divergence of the life course in a rapidly modernizing, industrializing, and urbanizing China.
Article
General methodological difficulties are discussed, particularly; the need to discuss similarity only with respect to specified dimensions, loss of information involved when configurations are reduced to indices, the need to interpret a similarity index as a relative rather than as an absolute measure, and the general non-comparability of scale units involved in profiles. The measure D is presented. This is, for two profiles, the sum of the squared deviations of corresponding scores, and is a general expression for dissimilarity (distance in the hyperspace of k variates). 27 references.
Article
The countries of the African continent suffer from numerous and severe economic maladies that inhibit their chances for effective economic growth. The problem confronting Africa's policy makers is how to combine overall economic growth with a more equitable distribution of income and economic assistance. This resource book examines the experiences of the African countries in implementing development programs and policies during the 1970s, and offers some conclusions and suggestions for further study. To assist those directly involved or interested in the formulation and implementation of economic development policies, the editor has provided statistical information and a descriptive bibliography for further research.