Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Deirdre Johnston

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Research in positive psychology suggests that relationships and giving are key predictors of happiness across collectivist and individualist cultures (Myers, 1993 & Putnam, 2000), but little research has explored the impact of community involvement on happiness. The purpose of this study is to explore whether community involvement is more predictive of happiness in a collectivist nation (Lebanon), than an individualist nation (United States). The hypotheses of this study are that the level of happiness increases when there is more community involvement, and that community involvement will be a stronger predictor of happiness within the more collectivistic culture. In addition, we explore whether different motivations for community involvement might be differentially effective in increasing happiness. Results demonstrate that there are significant differences between the United States and Lebanon in the levels of participants’ happiness, community involvement, motivation for personal development, motivation for relationship development, motivation for volunteering, and enmeshment with community. ANOVA shows the average scores for United States participants are higher on all of these variables. Regression analyses reveal that the motivation for personal development is the best predictor of subjective happiness. The hypothesis that community involvement would be a stronger predictor of happiness in a collectivistic culture was not supported. This study is important because previous research has suggested that community involvement predicts happiness (Putnam, 2000), but it has not examined what motivations for community involvement actually improve happiness, or whether these relationships are consistent across cultures. This study raises new questions regarding previous research that identifies giving and relationships as predictors of happiness, given that in this study, community involvement and volunteering were not the best predictors of happiness. Rather, results revealed that community involvement was not as important to overall happiness as the motivation for why the individual chose to be involved with their respective community.