The Shifting Basis of Life Satisfaction Judgments Across Cultures: Emotions Versus Norms

Eunkook Suh, Ed Diener, Shigehiro Oishi, Harry C. Triandis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

685 Citations (Scopus)


The relative importance of emotions versus normative beliefs for life satisfaction judgments was compared among individualist and collectivist nations in 2 large sets of international data (in total, 61 nations, N = 62,446). Among nations, emotions and life satisfaction correlated significantly more strongly in more individualistic nations (r = .52 in Study 1; r = .48 in Study 2). At the individual level, emotions were far superior predictors of life satisfaction to norms (social approval of life satisfaction) in individualist cultures, whereas norms and emotions were equally strong predictors of life satisfaction in collectivist cultures. The present findings have implications for future studies on cultural notions of well-being, the functional value of emotional experiences, and individual differences in life satisfaction profiles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)482-493
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1998 Feb


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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