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CULTURAL VALUES, SOCIAL SUPPORT, AND HAPPINESS: EXAMINING THE INFLUENCE OF GENDER

D. Donohue

Northern Arizona University (UNITED STATES)
People develop through life embedded within cultural contexts that influence their outcomes. How to promote optimal developmental outcomes, like happiness and life satisfaction, is increasingly being studied within the field of psychology as researchers shift their focus from a deficit paradigm toward one that is more positive.

Culture influences who people are, the way they behave, and how they interpret their own and others’ behavior. Kitayama and Markus (2000) suggest that comparing cultural values elucidates the hidden assumptions, premises, and narratives that influence people’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. There are several dimensions by which people’s cultural values are suggested to differ.

Some of these dimensions include:
1) Individualism: an orientation toward one’s own welfare,
2) Collectivism: an orientation toward the welfare of the larger community, and
3) Familism: an orientation toward one’s family (Gaines et al., 1997).

The purpose of this research was to examine how self-reported happiness was influenced by participants’ cultural values, social support, and interactions among these predictors, and how these relationships differed depending on participants’ self-reported gender.

For males, multiple regression analyses indicated that collectivism (β= .19, p < .05), familism (β= .36, p < .00), and social support satisfaction (β= .37, p < .00) were significant predictors of happiness. Moreover, interactions between social support and individualism (β= .-.28, p < .01) and social support and collectivism (β= .37, p < .00) were found.

For females, multiple regressions indicated only main effects of collectivism (β= .36, p < .00), familism (β= .16, p < .02), and social support satisfaction (β= .15, p < .02) on their self-reported happiness. The differing patterns between genders and implications of these results are discussed.