SINGAPORE - What is important to our well-being?
This question was raised in a recent symposium on well-being organised by the School of Arts and Social Sciences, SIM University.
Research suggests that what influences happiness differs for different facets of well-being. When it comes to a more cognitive assessment of well-being, such as one's satisfaction with life, material factors matter more.
When it comes to affective well-being, to do with one's feelings about life, fulfilment of psychological needs - such as having control over one's life, being respected and having family and friends to rely on - are more important.
A recent study published in the Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology used data from the Gallup World Poll of more than 830,000 respondents from 158 countries. It found that financial satisfaction and income were the strongest predictors of life evaluation, or cognitive well-being.
Feeling respected was the strongest predictor of positive feelings, or affective well-being.
The research shows that respect is important to feelings of happiness across the world, from the most affluent to the most impoverished nations.
Whether or not a person feels respected is a universal predictor of affective well-being, regardless of wealth.
The need to be respected stems from innate psychological needs that are essential for well-being, social functioning and psychological growth.
Respect, autonomy and social support are fundamental psychological needs. Being respected is conducive to feelings of competence, an innate psychological need. The need for respect can thus be said to be a basic human need.