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How Contemporary Publics Understand and Experience Happiness: A Cross-Cultural Perspective



How do contemporary publics understand happiness? What makes them experience it? Do conceptions and sources of their happiness vary across culturally different societies? This paper addresses these questions, utilizing the 2008 round of the AsiaBarometer surveys conducted in six countries scattered over four different continents. Analyses of these surveys, conducted in Japan, China, and India from the East; and the United States, Russia, and Australia from the West, reveal a number of interesting cross-cultural differences and similarities in the way the people of the East and West understand and experience happiness. Specifically, the former are much less multidimensional than the latter in their conceptions of happiness. Yet, they are alike in that their sense of relative achievement or deprivation is the most pervasive and powerful influence on happiness.



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