Needs and subjective well-being around the world

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2011 Aug;101(2):354-65. doi: 10.1037/a0023779.


Across a sample of 123 countries, we examined the association between the fulfillment of needs and subjective well-being (SWB), including life evaluation, positive feelings, and negative feelings. Need fulfillment was consistently associated with SWB across world regions. Life evaluation was most associated with fulfilling basic needs; positive feelings were most associated with social and respect needs; and negative feelings were most associated with basic, respect, and autonomy needs. Societal need fulfillment predicted SWB, particularly for life evaluation, beyond individuals' fulfillment of their own needs, indicating the desirability of living in a flourishing society. In addition, the associations of SWB with the fulfillment of specific needs were largely independent of whether other needs were fulfilled. These trends persisted when household income was taken into account. The emergent ordering of need fulfillment for psychosocial needs were fairly consistent across country conditions, but the fulfillment of basic and safety needs were contingent on country membership.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Africa / ethnology
  • Asia / ethnology
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Data Collection
  • Europe / ethnology
  • Europe, Eastern / ethnology
  • Humans
  • Latin America / ethnology
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Regression Analysis
  • Rural Population
  • Socioeconomic Factors