Culture and Well-being: The Associations of Self-Construals with Life Satisfaction, Mental Health, and Distress
Self-construals (SC) are overarching schemas that define the way individuals construct themselves in relation to others (Markus & Kitayama, 1991). SCs are strongly influenced by cultural milieu. They can affect well-being such that independent SC (i.e., own needs, wants, and desires are of importance) is associated with greater well-being, whereas interdependent SC (i.e., others’ needs, wants, and desires are of importance) is associated with poorer well-being (Diener & Diener, 1995; Cross et al., 2011). However, evidence suggests that delineating interdependence into its subtypes of relational SC (i.e., importance placed on only close and personal others) and collective SC (i.e., importance placed on large collectives and impersonal others) can uncover positive relationships between interdependence and well-being (Brewer & Gardner, 2007; Cross et al., 2011). In addition, there is limited research on how SCs co-exist to affect well-being. There is some evidence that SCs may add or interact to promote well-being, but explanations for these additive or interactive effects are largely unclear. As the spread of cultures worldwide is facilitated through technological advances, it is important to understand the effects of culture on well-being. The aims of the present research were to investigate: the relationships of SCs with well-being (i.e., life satisfaction, mental health symptoms, and distress); if SCs added or interacted to predict well-being; and the role of resilience as a mediating factor in the relationships between SCs and well-being. It was hypothesised that independent, relational, and collective SCs will positively predict well-being, and there will be additive or interactive effects on well-being. It was also hypothesised that resilience will mediate the relationships between SCs and well-being. Across three studies, high school and university students (n = 788) completed measures on SCs, well-being, resilience, and coping strategies. Independent t-tests, Spearman-rho correlations, and bootstrapped regression analyses were utilised to analyse the data.There were four major findings: (a) independent SC consistently predicted greater well-being outcomes whereas interdependent SC mostly predicted poorer well-being outcomes; (b) relational and collective SC significantly predicted greater well-being, indicating that measuring a broad interdependent SC may mask positive relationships between interdependence and well-being; (c) SCs added and interacted to predict well-being, both positively and negatively; and (d) resilience significantly mediated the relationships between SCs and well-being. In conclusion, consistent with the hypotheses, SCs predict well-being individually, additively, or interactively, and resilience significantly mediates these relationships. The present research has implications for a variety of issues such as definition and measurement of SCs, well-being, New Zealand culture, multiculturalism, and acculturation. Future research can further delineate precisely how the interplay of SCs can influence different types of well-being through other possible mediators.
Advisor: Linscott, Richard; Taumoepeau, Mele
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Psychology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: New Zealand; culture; well-being; self-construals; mental health; resilience; independent self-construal; relational self-construal; collective self-construal
Research Type: Thesis