Explaining Differences in Subjective Well-Being Across 33 Nations Using Multilevel Models: Universal Personality, Cultural Relativity, and National Income
Cheung, Mike W.-L.
SourceJournal of personality
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This multinational study simultaneously tested three prominent hypotheses–universal disposition, cultural relativity, and livability–that explained differences in subjective well-being across nations. We performed multilevel structural equation modeling to examine the hypothesized relationships at both individual and cultural levels in 33 nations. Participants were 6,753 university students (2,215 men4,403 women135 did not specify), and the average age of the entire sample was 20.97 years (SD = 2.39). Both individual- and cultural-level analyses supported the universal disposition and cultural relativity hypotheses by revealing significant associations of subjective well-being with Extraversion, Neuroticism, and independent self-construal. In addition, interdependent self-construal was positively related to life satisfaction at the individual level only, whereas aggregated negative affect was positively linked with aggregate levels of Extraversion and interdependent self-construal at the cultural level only. Consistent with the livability hypothesis, gross national income (GNI) was related to aggregate levels of negative affect and life satisfaction. There was also a quadratic relationship between GNI and aggregated positive affect. Our findings reveal that universal disposition, cultural self-construal, and national income can elucidate differences in subjective well-being, but the multilevel analyses advance the literature by yielding new findings that cannot be identified in studies using individual-level analyses alone.