The concept of life satisfaction across cultures: exploring its diverse meaning and relation to economic wealth
Vittersø, J., Røysamb, E. & Diener, E. (2002). The concept of life satisfaction across cultures: exploring its diverse meaning and relation to economic wealth. In E. Gullone & R. A. Cummins (Eds.). The Universality of Subjective Well-Being Indicators. A multi-disciplinary and multi-national perspective. Social Indicators Research Book Series, Volume 16, 81 - 103. The Netherlands, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.
The structural validity of the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS) was tested with confirmatory factor analyses in 41 nations. In addition, life satisfaction was correlated with national wealth (GNP) in these societies, after correcting for the reliability of the life satisfaction measure. The homogeneity of the SWLS was found to be acceptable across all nations, but differed between levels of analyses. Aggregated to the national mean level, a nested factor was found to cause a rather strong covariance between the first and fifth SWLS items. Initially, the zero-order correlation between the SWLS and GNP was.42 (p <.05). However, after controlling for the psychometric properties of the SWLS scale, such as reliability and model fit, the relation between national wealth and life satisfaction was reduced to.25 (n.s.). Regressing GNP on the factor loadings for all five SWLS items revealed that, relatively, the first item (i.e. In most ways my life is close to my ideal) is a more significant satisfaction with life construct in rich nations compared with poor countries. This and other findings relating to how the meaning of life satisfaction varies with culture are discussed.
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