Family First: Evidence of Consistency and Variation in the Value of Family Versus Personal Happiness Across 49 Different Cultures

Kuba Krys*, June Chun Yeung, Brian W. Haas, Yvette van Osch, Aleksandra Kosiarczyk, Agata Kocimska-Zych, Claudio Torres, Heyla A. Selim, John M. Zelenski, Michael Harris Bond, Joonha Park, Vivian Miu Chi Lun, Fridanna Maricchiolo, Christin Melanie Vauclair, Iva Poláčková Šolcová, David Sirlopú, Cai Xing, Vivian L. Vignoles, Wijnand A.P. van Tilburg, Julien TeyssierChien Ru Sun, Ursula Serdarevich, Beate Schwarz, Ruta Sargautyte, Espen Røysamb, Vladyslav Romashov, Muhammad Rizwan, Zoran Pavlović, Vassilis Pavlopoulos, Ayu Okvitawanli, Azar Nadi, Martin Nader, Nur Fariza Mustaffa, Elke Murdock, Oriana Mosca, Tamara Mohorić, Pablo Eduardo Barrientos Marroquin, Arina Malyonova, Xinhui Liu, J. Hannah Lee, Anna Kwiatkowska, Nicole Kronberger, Lucie Klůzová Kráčmarová, Natalia Kascakova, İdil Işık, Eric R. Igou, David O. Igbokwe, Diana Hanke-Boer, Alin Gavreliuc, Ragna B. Garðarsdóttir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


People care about their own well-being and about the well-being of their families. It is currently, however, unknown how much people tend to value their own versus their family’s well-being. A recent study documented that people value family happiness over personal happiness across four cultures. In this study, we sought to replicate this finding across a larger sample size (N = 12,819) and a greater number of countries (N = 49). We found that the strength of the idealization of family over personal happiness preference was small (average Cohen’s ds =.20, range −.02 to.48), but present in 98% of the studied countries, with statistical significance in 73% to 75%, and variance across countries <2%. We also found that the size of this effect did vary somewhat across cultural contexts. In Latin American cultures highest on relational mobility, the idealization of family over personal happiness was very small (average Cohen’s ds for Latin America =.15 and.18), while in Confucian Asia cultures lowest on relational mobility, this effect was closer to medium (ds >.40 and.30). Importantly, we did not find strong support for traditional theories in cross-cultural psychology that associate collectivism with greater prioritization of the family versus the individual; country-level individualism–collectivism was not associated with variation in the idealization of family versus individual happiness. Our findings indicate that no matter how much various populists abuse the argument of “protecting family life” to disrupt emancipation, family happiness seems to be a pan-culturally phenomenon. Family well-being is a key ingredient of social fabric across the world, and should be acknowledged by psychology and well-being researchers and by progressive movements too.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-339
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number3
Early online date22 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the Polish National Science Centre under grant 2020/38/E/ HS6/00357; the Hungarian OTKA under grant K-135963; the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development –CNPq under grant 301298/2018-1; the Czech Science Foundation CSF under grant 20-08583S, by the NPO, Systemic Risk Institute, LX22NPO510, EU - Next Generation EU and the Ministry of Higher Education and Science RF FZEW-2020-0005.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.

Other keywords

  • culture
  • family
  • happiness
  • interdependent happiness
  • life satisfaction
  • relational mobility
  • well-being


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