Title: Geography of happiness: configurations of affective and cognitive appraisal of life across nations

Authors: Gaël Brulé; Ruut Veenhoven

Addresses: EHERO, Erasmus University of Rotterdam, POB 1738, NL3000DR, Rotterdam, The Netherlands ' Erasmus University of Rotterdam, Rotterdam; North West University, South Africa

Abstract: When appraising our life-as-a-whole, we draw on two sources of information; 1) how well we feel most of the time; 2) to what extent life brings what we want of it. These sub-appraisals are referred to as components of happiness; respectively hedonic level of affect, the affective component, and contentment, the cognitive component. These sub-appraisals do not necessarily go together, one may feel fine but be discontented, or feel bad affectively, while being contented cognitively. In this paper, we explore how these appraisals combine in nations, drawing on data from the Gallup World Poll. The affective component is measured using an affect balance scale based on responses about yesterday's affective experiences. The cognitive component is measured using responses to a question about how close one's present life is to the ideal life one can imagine. Data is available for 133 nations for the years 2006 to 2009. We identified six geographical clusters of cognition/affect combinations. Links with existing cultural classifications and societal development are explored.

Keywords: subjective well-being; happiness; cross-cultural study; hedonic; contentment; societal development; affective appraisal; cognitive appraisal; affect balance scale; affective experiences; culture; geographical clusters; cognition; affect.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHD.2015.070070

International Journal of Happiness and Development, 2015 Vol.2 No.2, pp.101 - 117

Received: 11 Mar 2014
Accepted: 13 Aug 2014

Published online: 26 Jun 2015 *

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