Cross-Cultural Photographic Representations of Happiness in USA, Japan, and Honduras in College Students

Student Author(s)

Jean Luc Miralda

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Deirdre Johnston and Dr. Rika Hanamitsu

Document Type


Event Date



Happiness can be found in little everyday things, actions, and places, or it can be created by people, events, or animals. Although there is a basic definition of happiness, its interpretation and meaning is different among cultures. In this case, my research is to find out what the differences are in three cultures: American, Japanese and Honduran, primarily focused on college students. By a convenient sample, we have recruited 160 US participants in Michigan, Iowa, Ohio, and Illinois, Japanese participants in Tokyo, and Honduran participants in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. Participants were required to complete a pre- and post- test that employed the Deiner’s Flourishing Scale (2009) in which we aimed to measure their perception of self-esteem, social relationships, purpose and optimism. In our post examination we provided the participants with an opportunity to reflect upon the prior 24 hours in which they were required to take 5 photographs throughout the day. Although some of our data is still being translated from Spanish to English, and we are still receiving more participants from Honduras, we are finding very interesting differences like degree to which other people are integrated into their happiness, behaviors in the moments of happiness, and the different contexts in which people realize happiness. All narratives will be coded for emotional complexity according to the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale (Lane, Quinlan, Schwartz, Walker & Zeinlin, 1990). We will be employing an ANOVA analysis to compare pre- and post-test scales in which we plan to evaluate whether participants’ perception of self is significantly impacted by reflecting upon their last 24 hours. This cross-cultural study can provide us with an avenue of understanding the different sources of pleasures found in every culture, as well as how we may construct, experience and express happiness differently.

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