Name:  Colin Capaldi

Area of Study:  Personality / Social

In what program are you currently enrolled?


What year of the program are you currently in?

5th Year

Citation in APA format

Citation: Krys, K., Capaldi, C. A., Zelenski, J. M., Park, J., Nader, M., Kocimska-Zych, A., … Uchida, Y. (2019). Family well-being is valued more than personal well-being: A four-country study. Current Psychology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s12144-019-00249-2

Plain language abstract:

This research investigates the similarities and differences in how people in four countries (i.e., Canada, Colombia, Japan, and Poland) value different kinds of happiness. We found that happiness was generally valued more in some countries than others. For instance, Colombian participants tended to value happiness more than a standard deviation higher than Japanese participants. Nevertheless, we also found that family happiness was valued more than personal happiness within each of the four countries in our study. These findings challenge the assumption that happiness is universally valued and pursued to the same extent worldwide. They also suggest that a greater focus on family well-being, which currently receives less attention than personal well-being by researchers and policy makers, may be warranted.

How did the idea for this research come about? 

This paper is part of a larger line of research that our cross-cultural team is conducting to better understand how happiness is conceptualized and valued across cultures. It builds upon previous research by others that has found cross-cultural differences in self-reported ideal levels of life satisfaction (e.g., Diener, Napa Scollon, Oishi, Dzokoto, & Suh, 2000) and high-arousal vs. low-arousal positive emotions (e.g., Tsai, Knutson, & Fung, 2006), as well as research on aversion to happiness (Joshanloo & Weijers, 2014), more interdependent forms of happiness (Hitokoto & Uchida, 2015), importance of family across cultures (e.g., World Values Survey, 2016), and lay definitions of happiness (Delle Fave et al., 2016). By manipulating the subject of happiness measures (i.e., personal happiness vs. family happiness) and the type of happiness (i.e., life satisfaction vs. interdependent happiness) in our study, we were able to bring some of these topics together for the first time to replicate and expand research on how people think and feel about different forms of well-being in different cultural contexts.

How did you collect the data for this project? 

Convenience samples of university students were recruited in Canada, Colombia, Japan, and Poland. For the Canadian sample, we used SONA to recruit around 200 Carleton University students who participated in an online survey on Qualtrics for course credit. To measure how different kinds of happiness were valued, our cross-cultural team adopted an approach used by Diener et al. (2000) and we asked participants to answer happiness questionnaire items as they thought an ideal or perfect person would. Participants did this for the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS; Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin, 1985) and the Interdependent Happiness Scale (IHS; Hitokoto & Uchida, 2015) to give us an idea of how much they valued personal happiness. To assess how much participants valued family happiness, we reworded the SWLS and IHS items to be about one’s family instead of oneself. For instance, “I am satisfied with my life” from the SWLS was changed to “My family is satisfied with its life”, and “I do not have any major concerns or anxieties” from the IHS was changed to “My family does not have any major concerns or anxieties”.

Was the journal you published in the first journal you submitted this paper to?


Why did you choose this journal?

After this paper was rejected after being sent out for reviews at the first journal we submitted to (i.e., Journal of Family Psychology) and desk rejected at the second journal we submitted to (i.e., Journal of Positive Psychology), we decided to aim for a journal with a broader scope and more of a track record of publishing cross-cultural research. Current Psychology seemed to be a good fit as it welcomes contributions from all major areas of psychology, describes itself as an international forum, and regularly publishes articles that take cultural issues into account. The length of time for receiving feedback at Current Psychology also tends to be quite reasonable, which was attractive to us as it had been 10 months already since we first submitted our manuscript for publication.

How many other journals did you submit this paper to before it landed in the journal that eventually published your work?


What was your revision experience?

In my opinion, the feedback we received during the peer review process greatly improved the quality of our manuscript. After being rejected from the first journal we submitted to, we made substantial changes to the paper in response to the feedback we received before resubmitting it elsewhere. This included adopting a statistical approach that more formally tested our primary research questions, improving the flow and clarity of our introduction section, and refining the scope of the paper to focus on our primary research questions (while moving secondary research questions and analyses to a supplementary material document). The revisions we made at this earlier stage appeared to pay off as the feedback we received from reviewers at Current Psychology required us to make relatively minor modifications (e.g., better distinguishing between the different kinds of happiness we investigated, clarifying some aspects of our methods and interpretation of results, adding a visualization of our results).

How many rounds of revision did you experience?


Did you need to collect new data to satisfy a reviewer?


How long did it take from first submission to acceptance? 

It took around 5 months from first submission to acceptance at Current Psychology, but around 15 months in total if the time since we submitted to the first journal is taken into account.

Was this paper conducted as part of your MA thesis?


Was this paper conducted as part of your PhD dissertation?


How did this project come about?

This project stems from the long-standing relationship that my supervisor and I have with Kuba Krys, a cross-cultural psychologist from Poland. As Kuba is interested in the intersection of cross-cultural psychology and positive psychology, and my supervisor and I are part of the Carleton University Happiness Laboratory, it was a natural fit and we have worked together on numerous research projects over the years. My first involvement in this cross-cultural team was as a research assistant in the first year of my MA when my supervisor asked if I would be willing to help collect data for a study investigating how smiling impacts person perception across cultures (Krys et al., 2016). When Kuba asked if I wanted to be involved in another research project on the conceptualization and valuation of happiness, I was happy to say yes.

Was this research conducted with your supervisor?


If yes, provide his or her name

Dr. John Zelenski

Was this research conducted with fellow graduate students in our program? 


Was this research conducted with researchers external to Carleton?


If yes, please provide names

Kuba Krys, Joonha Park, Martin Nader, Agata Kocimska-Zych, Anna Kwiatkowska, Piotr Michalski, and Yukiko Uchida

For a copy of the article, please click the PDF below:

Graduate Research Showcase – Colin Capaldi

To access the published version, please click the link below: