HAPPINESS, MATERIALISM, AND RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE IN THE US AND SINGAPORE


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Abstract

This study examines relationships between three central human concepts. From national probability samples of adults in the United States and in Singapore, we measured happiness, materialism (operationalized as the three sub-scales of possession-defined success, acquisition centrality, and acquisition as the pursuit of happiness), and religious experience (using three scales measuring intrinsic religiosity, extrinsic religiosity, and religion as quest). It was expected and found that happiness is negatively related to overall materialism in both the US and in Singapore, although happiness" relationship with the three materialism sub-scales was mixed. We observed that adults in Singapore are less happy and more materialistic than those in the US It was expected that happiness would have a positive relationship with intrinsic religiosity and extrinsic religiosity, but a negative relationship with religion as quest. Though our results largely support these hypotheses, they produce some unexpected differences between the two countries and across the three religiosity dimensions. We conclude that happiness is not associated with people's material accumulation but with their perceived inner world. And happy people see their religion not so much as something they “do” as what they “are”.

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