Self-Construal and Subjective Wellbeing in Two Ethnic Communities in Singapore

DOI: 10.4236/psych.2011.22011   PDF   HTML     6,171 Downloads   11,573 Views   Citations


The study reported here addressed two questions concerning the applicability to other collectivist cultures of a model developed on the basis of socially defined self-construals and their consequences for subjective wellbeing (Kwan, Bond, & Singelis, 1997). In contrast to the social centrality of the Singaporean Chinese, Islam enjoys centrality in the Malay community. Is subjective well-being in these two cultures attributable to independent or interdependent self-construal? Do parallel paths to subjective wellbeing originate from these two forms of self-construal? Are the respective mediators, self-esteem and relationship harmony, functioning in the same way in these different communities? Two hundred and eighty-six participants (121 Malays, including 49 females and 72 males, and 165 Chinese, including 62 males and 103 females, average age, 18.52) were drawn from three tertiary technical training institutes in Singapore. Independent and interdependent self-construal, Rosenberg’s Self-esteem Scale (SE), the Relationship Harmony Scale (RH) (Kwan, et al. 1997) and the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SL) (Diener, Emmons. Larsen, & Griffins, 1985) were administered to test the model. For the Chinese, the best-fit model required a path between the two forms of self-construal, confirming their overlapping nature. For the Malays, a radically different model fits the data: relationship harmony no longer functions as a mediator but as an independent contributor in its own right. These results raise questions about the meaning and consequences of socially defined self-construal in different collectivist cultures, and the path between ¬the self and subjective wellbeing.

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Chang, W. , Osman, M. , Tong, E. & Tan, D. (2011). Self-Construal and Subjective Wellbeing in Two Ethnic Communities in Singapore. Psychology, 2, 63-70. doi: 10.4236/psych.2011.22011.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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