Cross-Cultural Differences in the Effectiveness of 12 Happiness-Inducing Techniques

Presentation author(s)

Kaveri Sarkar ’20, New Delhi, India

Majors: Psychology; International Relations


My interests in positive psychology and cross-cultural psychology encouraged me to undertake a year-long Psychology honors thesis in which I investigated potential cultural differences in the effectiveness of 12 happiness-inducing techniques. My findings may lead to a fuller understanding of the relationship between cultural variables and ways to increase happiness.

The Person-Activity Fit Diagnostic (PAFD) is an instrument created by Lyubomirsky and Sheldon (2007) that briefly describes 12 empirically-validated happiness-increasing techniques. Respondents rate each technique in terms of five dimensions including naturalness, enjoyment, and value. Lyubomirsky and Sheldon recommend that individuals use their four highest-rated techniques. This is based on the premise of “self-determined motivation,” that we are more inclined to do something if it seems natural and enjoyable to us–and less inclined if we feel pressured to pursue an activity (Lyubomirsky & Sheldon, 2005).

Past research indicates the existence of gender differences in how participants rate the PAFD techniques, which suggests the possibility of cultural differences as well. I predicted that persons in collectivist societies may fit better with activities like “Nurturing Social Relationships,” whereas persons in individualistic societies may fit better with “Committing to Your Goals,” because collectivist societies emphasize relatedness and individualistic societies emphasize personal achievement.

I recruited 150 participants from the (individualistic) United States and 150 participants from (collectivist) India through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Participants completed the PAFD to determine the happiness-inducing techniques that will likely work best for them. They also completed a measure of religiosity and the INDCOL scale, which assesses individualist and collectivist values.

In my presentation, I will present the results of my cross-cultural survey. Specifically, I will examine the statistical relationships between four predictor variables–nationality, collectivist values, religiosity, and gender–and participants’ utility ratings of 12 happiness-increasing techniques.


Lawrence T. White

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