Culture and Subjective Well-Being

From Well Being and Quality of Life

Culture and Subjective Well-Being

Edited by Edward Diener and Eunkook M. Suh

A Bradford Book





The question of what constitutes the good life has been pondered for millennia. Yet only in the last decades has the study of well-being become a scientific endeavor. This book is based on the idea that we can empirically study quality of life and make cross-society comparisons of subjective well-being (SWB).

A potential problem in studying SWB across societies is that of cultural relativism: if societies have different values, the members of those societies will use different criteria in evaluating the success of their society. By examining, however, such aspects of SWB as whether people believe they are living correctly, whether they enjoy their lives, and whether others important to them believe they are living well, SWB can represent the degree to which people in a society are achieving the values they hold dear.

The contributors analyze SWB in relation to money, age, gender, democracy, and other factors. Among the interesting findings is that although wealthy nations are on average happier than poor ones, people do not get happier as a wealthy nation grows wealthier.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262041829 366 pp. | 7 in x 9 in


$40.00 X ISBN: 9780262541466 366 pp. | 7 in x 9 in


Edward Diener

Ed Diener, Alumni Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, is past president of the International Society of Quality of Life Studies and of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology. He is editor of the Journal of Happiness Studies.

Eunkook M. Suh

Eunkook M. Suh is Assistant Professor of Psychology and Social Behavior at the University of California, Irvine.


  • ...this volume marks an important step...

    Neil Levy



  • This outstanding collection provides diverse insights into the nature of well-being and the workings of culture, and examines the complex ways in which they may relate to one another. Written by a distinguished group of researchers, this book should be of great interest to psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, and anyone interested in how people conceive of 'the good life.'

    Ziva Kunda

    Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo

  • How does culture shape what it is like to be inside our heads? How can psychologists hope to measure and compare the way people feel about themselves in different cultures? This book summarizes cutting-edge research on these and other fascinating questions about culture and subjective well-being. I am sure that this book will assume a prominent place on my shelf and that I will refer to it often.

    Timothy D. Wilson

    Department of Psychology, University of Virginia

  • Diener and Suh have compiled an extraordinary handbook on understanding subjective well-being across cultures. This volume will become an invaluable resource for researchers in this field and is likely to shape the direction of the field in the future.

    Susan K. Nolen-Hoeksema

    Department of Psychology, University of Michigan