By Dilara Sancar 4727095 & Chelsea Brunton 4721706
This project explores the notion “that differences in our culture have consequences for the meanings people ascribe to happiness as well as for motivations and determinants” (Bartram 2012, p.648).
This project took a sample of 4 participants from different cultures and backgrounds that were interviewed and video graphed at their own will to assist our study in exploring happiness across cultures and the difference between happiness and contentment. As part of our University of Wollongong studies, this project will only be seen by our tutor and class members in which our participants identities are kept anonymous with the right to opt out of the project at any time.
Exploring whether differences in culture create different meanings that people ascribe to happiness. To do this we conducted research and interviews in order to explore the topic of happiness across cultures, with the aim to study the difference between happiness and contentment. Bartram (2012,p.645) for example, sees happiness as the affective component of subjective well-being, however outlines that “life satisfaction” is the cognitive component. In a study of Bartram’s text, it is clear that “our level of objective well being is no guarantee of our happiness or satisfaction” (Bartram, 2012, p.645).
Bartram (2012, p.645) claims that happiness is about “feeling good and enjoying life” that will lead you to wanting to maintain that feeling describing happiness as something bigger than an emotion in a way that connects well with people’s lived experiences (cited by Layard, 2005). Therefore by using the medium of film, we intended to explore our affective core of happiness that according to Bartram’s study should enable us to connect with people’s life experiences, and create a positive emotional state (Bartram 2012, p.645).
However, there are complications surrounding the cross national comparisons of culture that are due to the differences in the way people in different countries relate to the concept of happiness and the good life due to their cultural background (Bartram, 2012,p.645). In respect, this understanding aided us to understand why some people are happier than others through an interview of people from a variety of different cultures.
In analysing whether cultural differences create different meanings that people ascribe to happiness, through our interviews we found that our sample has been influenced by their culture, family and their traditions however also by their own values they hold and their own ideas of happiness. The results from this project explored Schyns comparison theory (Ye & Ng & Lian 2015, p.523) and revealed that human happiness greatly depends on comparisons between standards of quality of life in contrast to perceived life circumstances.
Ye & Ng & Lian (2015, p.523) contend that there is an endogeneity problem between culture and happiness as the content of culture is very rich that differs from culture to culture. However, our results on the study of ‘the good life’ revealed that our participants collectively pictured a life filled with family members and friends. All participants agreed that ‘the good life’ in a positive outlook and saw this as an achievable goal. Maslow’s needs theory outlines that leading a good life will greatly determine the extent of needs-satisfaction and that higher need gratification produces more desirable subjective results such as more profound happiness, richness of inner life and serenity (Ye & Ng & Lian 2015, p.523).
Our sample saw that the idea of happiness is not connected with society’s expectations of happiness although influenced to a certain extent. Ye & Ng & Lian (2015, p.523) point out that Euro-American cultures emphasize independence and freedom and results from sample 1 and 2 view illustrated this. They saw happiness as something that is personal and subjectively created, where sample 3 and 4, viewed happiness as influenced by society although voiced that society’s expectations always change. Ye & Ng & Lian (2015, p.523) argue that eastern cultures place focus on harmony and holding collectivism above individualism and see these aspects affecting happiness.
Based off the results from our project, we believe that cultural differences create different meanings that people ascribe to happiness, and through our interviews we found that our sample has been influenced by their culture, family and their traditions. Ye & Ng & Lian (2015, p.522) stated that there is a endogeneity problem between culture and happiness as the content of culture is very rich that differs from culture to culture. Through our study, we also found that our participants hold their own personal values and ideas of happiness. We believe contentment and happiness are two separate emotions, contentment is a state of satisfaction, and happiness is fulfilling ‘the good life’. In reference to Bartram’s text, we agree with the notion that our level of objective well-being is no guarantee of our happiness or satisfaction, we acknowledge that objective conditions influence subjective happiness.
Based on our results, all participants stated that their emotional experiences are valued overall. Bartram’s (2012,p.645) makes the statement that happiness is connected to a positive emotional state that “conveys a more durable quality for feeling good as “happiness comprises moods and emotions” (cited by Haybron 2008). `
Bartram, D 2012, ‘Elements of a Sociological Contribution to Happiness Studies’, Sociology Compass, vol. 6, no. 8, pp. 644-656.
Ye, D, Ng, Y, & Lian, Y 2015, ‘Culture and Happiness’, Social Indicators Research, vol. 123, no. 2, pp. 519-547.