Native American Subjective Happiness: An Overview

Amoneeta Beckstein


The scholarly exploration of what makes people happy has been ongoing for thousands of years, particularly in Western cultures. A lot is known about happiness among Euro-Americans, and only more recently have researchers begun to examine this construct among other cultures. Native Americans are a particularly underrepresented culture in the psychological and happiness research, and very little is known about what makes Native Americans happy. While many studies have been conducted on happiness and subjective well-being (SWB) of Euro-Americans, few studies have examined Native Americans.

One of the common variables that researchers use to study cultural differences is collectivism/individualism. Collectivism refers to cultures in which people are interdependent and interconnected with each other and are other-focused. Individualism refers to cultures in which people are more independent and self-focused. When discussing individual levels of collectivism/individualism, self-construal is often used. Interdependent self-construal corresponds to collectivism while independent self-construal corresponds to individualism. Native American has commonly been thought to be a more collectivistic culture.

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