Untangling causal beliefs : A lay theory of happiness determinants using a factorial survey

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

9 Citations (Scopus)


After two decades of research, the evidence in cross-cultural studies has shown that the lay theories of happiness are not universal. Significant variations have been found in the beliefs about the sources of happiness between countries. However, heterogeneities within countries have been overlooked. In this article, I documented a folk theory of happiness beliefs for the Chilean case. Using factorial surveys, I estimated (a) causal beliefs of happiness, (b) the contingency of the belief about income upon other domains, and (c) the heterogeneity of these beliefs when considering respondents’ experience on these dimensions. Health and income are the most prominent determinants of happiness in the belief system of Chileans. For the first time, income is reported as a prominent source of happiness from the perspective of laypeople. Nevertheless, this belief is contingent upon several of the other sources of happiness. In addition, the experience of long-exposure life circumstances explains the heterogeneity of beliefs about lifestyle and partner relationships. Overall, these findings compel us to re-evaluate other once-believed collectivistic countries that have gone through structural changes like Chile. Finally, the potentialities of using factorial surveys for cultural analysis are highlighted.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101442
Early online date6 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes


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