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Concepts of Happiness Across Time and Cultures

We explored cultural and historical variations in concepts of happiness. First, we analyzed the definitions of happiness in dictionaries from 30 nations to understand cultural similarities and differences in happiness concepts. Second, we analyzed the definition of happiness in Webster’s dictionarie... Full description

Journal Title: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin May 2013, Vol.39(5), pp.559-577
Main Author: Oishi, Shigehiro
Other Authors: Graham, Jesse , Kesebir, Selin , Galinha, Iolanda Costa
Format: Electronic Article Electronic Article
Language: English
Subjects:
ID: ISSN: 0146-1672 ; E-ISSN: 1552-7433 ; DOI: 10.1177/0146167213480042
Link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0146167213480042
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recordid: sage_s10_1177_0146167213480042
title: Concepts of Happiness Across Time and Cultures
format: Article
creator:
  • Oishi, Shigehiro
  • Graham, Jesse
  • Kesebir, Selin
  • Galinha, Iolanda Costa
subjects:
  • Happiness
  • Subjective Well-Being
  • Culture
  • Historical
  • Sociology & Social History
  • Psychology
ispartof: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, May 2013, Vol.39(5), pp.559-577
description: We explored cultural and historical variations in concepts of happiness. First, we analyzed the definitions of happiness in dictionaries from 30 nations to understand cultural similarities and differences in happiness concepts. Second, we analyzed the definition of happiness in Webster’s dictionaries from 1850 to the present day to understand historical changes in American English. Third, we coded the State of the Union addresses given by U.S. presidents from 1790 to 2010. Finally, we investigated the appearance of the phrases happy nation versus happy person in Google’s Ngram Viewer from 1800 to 2008. Across cultures and time, happiness was most frequently defined as good luck and favorable external conditions. However, in American English, this definition was replaced by definitions focused on favorable internal feeling states. Our findings highlight the value of a historical perspective in the study of psychological concepts.
language: eng
source:
identifier: ISSN: 0146-1672 ; E-ISSN: 1552-7433 ; DOI: 10.1177/0146167213480042
fulltext: fulltext
issn:
  • 0146-1672
  • 01461672
  • 1552-7433
  • 15527433
url: Link


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descriptionWe explored cultural and historical variations in concepts of happiness. First, we analyzed the definitions of happiness in dictionaries from 30 nations to understand cultural similarities and differences in happiness concepts. Second, we analyzed the definition of happiness in Webster’s dictionaries from 1850 to the present day to understand historical changes in American English. Third, we coded the State of the Union addresses given by U.S. presidents from 1790 to 2010. Finally, we investigated the appearance of the phrases happy nation versus happy person in Google’s Ngram Viewer from 1800 to 2008. Across cultures and time, happiness was most frequently defined as good luck and favorable external conditions. However, in American English, this definition was replaced by definitions focused on favorable internal feeling states. Our findings highlight the value of a historical perspective in the study of psychological concepts.
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We explored cultural and historical variations in concepts of happiness. First, we analyzed the definitions of happiness in dictionaries from 30 nations to understand cultural similarities and differences in happiness concepts. Second, we analyzed the definition of happiness in Webster’s dictionaries from 1850 to the present day to understand historical changes in American English. Third, we coded the State of the Union addresses given by U.S. presidents from 1790 to 2010. Finally, we investigated the appearance of the phrases happy nation versus happy person in Google’s Ngram Viewer from 1800 to 2008. Across cultures and time, happiness was most frequently defined as good luck and favorable external conditions. However, in American English, this definition was replaced by definitions focused on favorable internal feeling states. Our findings highlight the value of a historical perspective in the study of psychological concepts.

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