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CULTURE, SELF, AND SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING: CULTURAL ...

CULTURE, SELF, AND SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING: CULTURAL ...

CULTURE, SELF, AND SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING: CULTURAL

05lu.fm 290 ページ 2009 年 2 月 25 日 水 曜 日 午 前 8 時 40 分 Psychologia, 2008, 51, 290–303 CULTURE, SELF, AND SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING: CULTURAL PSYCHIKIGICAL AND SOCIAL CHANGE PERSPECTIVES Luo LU National Taiwan University, Taiwan Culture serves as a major force shaping the way people conceptualize the self, think about happiness, and cope with difficulties and upheavals in life. The present paper starts with a conceptual analysis of traditional Chinese and modern Western views of the self, to contrast the social-oriented versus individual-oriented nature of the self embedded in the two cultural traditions. These culture-specific modes of self construction can then shed light on the diverse meanings people hold for happiness and well-being in different societies. Building on the social-oriented view of the self, which emphasizes relatedness, fluidity, morality, self-constraint, harmony, and sensitivity to others, subjective well-being for the Chinese is construed around fulfilling one’s obligations and maintaining homeostasis (dialectical balance). In contrast, emanating from an individual-oriented view of the self, which emphasizes independence, self-determination, consistency, and personal striving, happiness is a prize to be fought over, and entirely one’s responsibility to accomplish this ultimate goal of life. Similarly, culture-specific preferences in individual-society and/or interpersonal alignment mirror the two contrasting views of the self, and link up with the collaborative project of pursuing happiness. Key words: What is happiness This is a simple question. We all know the answer, or do we As soon as we hear people talk about happiness, we will be stunned how diverse each one’s ideas about happiness are! The differences are even more substantial in the ways people from the East Asia and the North America think about happiness (Lu, 2001; Lu & Gilmour, 2004a). Regarded as a “basic building block, a value in terms of which other values are justified” (Braithwaite & Law, 1985, p. 261), the experiences of subjective well-being (SWB, herein used as interchangeable with “happiness”) may be universal, but its meaning remains complex and culture-bond. I argue that the impact of culture on SWB is fundamental, since culture not only provides a specific set of conceptions of SWB, but also constructs particular pathways for its achievement. Cultural thus forms a critical aspect of SWB, which have largely been neglected thus far by Western psychologists. Borrowing Suh’s (2000, p. 63) metaphor of “self as the hyphen between culture and subjective well-being”, the construction of self, The author is grateful for the financial support from the Ministry of Education (89-H-FA01-2-4-2) and the National Science Council, Taiwan (NSC93-2752-H-030-001-PAE, NSC94-2752-H-008-002-PAE, NSC95- 2752-H-008-002-PAE and NSC96-2752-H-002-019-PAE), for the series of studies reported here. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Prof. Luo Lu, Department of Business Administration, National Taiwan University, No. 1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Road, Taipei 106, Taiwan, Tel: 886-2- 33669657, Fax: 886-2-23625379 (e-mail: luolu@ntu.edu.tw). 290

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