Life Satisfaction and Intercultural Tolerance Interrelations in Different Cultures


  • Elena Chebotareva



Ethnic Identity, Ethnic Tolerance, Life satisfaction, Subjective well-being, Cross-cultural differences, Religion


Summarizing the results of different researches on intercultural interaction, we can state that people feel tension in intercultural contacts when they perceive the situation as threatening their well-being. There are also many empirical evidences that people belonging to different cultures understand well-being in different ways. This understanding depends also on social, economic and other factors. Thereby it is important to study general relationships of subjective well-being and intercultural tolerance and cultural specifics of these relationships. Objectives of the empirical study was to analyze the satisfaction with life as an important factor of cross-cultural interaction; to reveal cultural specifics of modern representations of subjective well-being, and interrelations of the styles of intercultural interaction with subjective well-being in different cultures. Methods: Scales of: Psychological well-being (Ryff), Life Satisfaction (Neugarten, Havighurst, - Tobin), Subjective Happiness (Lyubomirsky - Lepper), General Communicative Tolerance (Boiko) and Ethnic Identity Types (Soldatova, Ryzhova), Student’s T-test, Spearman's rank correlation. Sample: 330 persons (18-55 years old) of 10 different nations and 5 religions. By the time of the survey, all the participants had lived in Russia for some (not less than 3) years, all of them lived in some biggest Russian cities.Results: It was discovered, that people’s satisfaction with their lives directly relates to general and intercultural tolerance. People, more satisfied with their lives, are usually better control their negative emotions, adapt to changing situations, forgive others’ mistakes. Such people admit their and others’ ethnicity and more rarely exhibit extremism in inter-ethnic relations, although they often avoid contact with other ethnic groups. Cross-cultural differences in well-being were revealed among residents of modern Russian big cities. In particular, people belonging to the Jewish religion, were significantly more satisfied with their lives than all the others were. People brought up in the Orthodox culture, were the least satisfied. In many subjective well-being indicators, representatives of the Buddhist and Muslim cultures showed quite good results. Different statistically significant connections between subjective well-being and tolerance were revealed in cultural subgroups. For example, for people belonging to Jewish religion, general tolerance is associated mostly with meaningfulness of life and openness to the world; and ethnic tolerance is associated to environmental mastery and personal growth. For Buddhists meaningfulness of life positively correlates with general and ethnic tolerance, and personal growth correlates only with ethnic tolerance. Muslims showed the similar results, but besides – the correlations of both types of tolerance with ppurposefulness and overall mood tone. For Orthodox Christians, both types of tolerance is mostly related to positive relations with others and overall level of subjective well-being. Conclusions: the life satisfaction and subjective well-being are important factors of intercultural interactions. There are common and culturally specific mechanisms of these factors interaction. In psychological support of cross-cultural interaction it is important to take into consideration cultural differences in well-being understanding and its relations with general and intercultural tolerance.