Belief in a zero-sum game and subjective well-being across 35 countries

Joanna RÓŻYCKA-TRAN, Jarosław P. PIOTROWSKI, Magdalena ŻEMOJTEL-PIOTROWSKA, Paweł JUREK, Evgeny N. OSIN, Byron G. ADAMS, Rahkman ARDI, Sergiu BĂLȚĂTESCU , Arbinda Lal BHOMI, Sergey A. BOGOMAZ, Jan CIECIUCH, Amanda CLINTON, Gisela T. DE CLUNIE, Anna Z. CZARNA, Carla Sofia ESTEVES, Valdiney GOUVEIA, Murnizam H. J. HALIK , Narine KACHATRYAN, Shanmukh Vasant KAMBLE, Anna KAWULAMartina KLICPEROVA-BAKER, Aituar KOSPAKOV, Eva LETOVANCOVA, Vivian Miu-chi LUN, Sara Malo CERRATO, Stephan MUEHLBACHER, Marija NIKOLIC, Alina A. PANKRATOVA, Joonha PARK, Elena PASPALANOVA, Győző PÉK, Pablo Pérez DE LEÓN, Iva Poláčková ŠOLCOVÁ, Wahab SHAHBAZ, Truong Thi Khanh HA, Habib TILIOUINE, Alain VAN HIEL, Christin-melanie VAUCLAIR, Eduardo WILLS-HERRERA, Anna WŁODARCZYK, Illia I. YAHIIAIEV, John MALTBY

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


This article presents a short research report on the relationship between perceived antagonism in social relations measured using the Belief in a Zero-Sum Game (BZSG) scale, life satisfaction, and positive and negative affect. Given that individuals who believe that life is like a zero-sum game are likely to perceive their daily interactions with others as unfair, we expected that individuals with high BZSG experience more negative affect and fewer positive one, resulting in a lower satisfaction with life. In addition, we examined whether country-level BZSG may play a moderating role in these associations. Data were collected from student samples (N = 7146) in 35 countries. Multilevel modelling revealed that perceived social antagonism in social relations is negatively associated with satisfaction with life and that this relationship is mediated by both positive and negative affect at the individual level. The relation of individual BZSG and negative affect on satisfaction with life were weaker in societies with higher country-level BZSG, suggesting that the effects of BZSG may be less detrimental in these countries. These findings extend previous knowledge about predictors of life satisfaction and suggest that social beliefs might also be an important factor that influences subjective well-being. The contribution of the study is that the separate treatment of life satisfaction and positive and negative affect may be helpful in many research situations, particularly from a cross-cultural perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3575–3584
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Psychology
Issue number7
Early online date30 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgments: The work of Magdalena Żemojtel-Piotrowska and Jarosław Piotrowski was supported by NCN 2016/21/B/HS6/01069. The work of Evgeny Osin was supported by the Russian Academic Excellence project “5-100”. The work of Truong Thi Khanh Ha was funded by grants 501.01-2016.02 from the Vietnam National Foundation for Science and Technology Development (NAFOSTED).

Author Contributions:
Wrote the paper: Joanna Różycka-Tran, Evgeny N. Osin, Magdalena Żemojtel-Piotrowska. Desing the study: Magdalena Żemojtel-Piotrowska, Jarosław Piotrowski, Joanna Różycka-Tran. Prepared the data: Paweł Jurek. Special thanks to Evgeny N. Osin for multilevel modeling analyses. Visualization: Evgeny N. Osin, Paweł Jurek. Revisions and comments for final version: Byron G. Adams and all authors. Gathered data: all authors.


  • Belief in a zero-sum game
  • MML
  • Subjective well-being
  • SWLS


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