Previous research has found cross-national variations in the association between search for meaning in life (SMIL) and well-being (i.e. SMIL–WB link). This study extended and tested a “self-improvement hypothesis” that accounts for such cross-national variations based on an international database—the sixth wave of World Values Survey. SMIL represents a self-improvement effort which is more demanded in contexts with stronger external constraints. Thus, we expected a stronger positive SMIL–WB link in such contexts. A series of multilevel analyses was used to verify this hypothesis. The results showed that the SMIL–WB link varied across different societies, with well-being indexed by happiness, life satisfaction and subjective health. Moreover, external constraints from cultural, social-institutional, economic and ecological contexts (collectivism, peace threats, economic scarcity and environmental threats) moderated the SMIL–WB links. We thus call for advancing SMIL theory by considering person–context interaction.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This preparation of this manuscript was supported by a start‐up fund of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University awarded to Li Lin.
© 2020 International Union of Psychological Science
- Cross-national variation
- External constraints
- Macro context
- Search for meaning in life