Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 741–755 | Cite as

Chinese and South Asian Conceptions of the Good Life and Personal Narratives

  • Gregory Bonn
  • Romin W. Tafarodi
Research Paper


Are cultural visions of a good life reflected in how people narrate the personal past? Do they tend to emphasize experiences that correspond to their cultural commitments about what is important and worthwhile in the life they are hoping to live? To examine this possibility, Chinese and South Asian international students at a Canadian university were compared on the content of their narrative accounts of their post-arrival experiences. Predictions about how these groups differ in the prevalence of various topical categories were made on the basis of previous research on cultural conceptions of a good life. A majority of the predictions were confirmed, supporting the general claim that Chinese tend more toward practical and prudential concerns, and less toward spiritual and beneficent concerns, than do South Asians.


Good life Narrative Culture China South Asia Cultural differences 



This research was supported in part by a Standard Research Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (410-2006-1127) to the second author. We thank Lindie Liang, Sara Houshmand, Tiffany Jenzer, Parisa Ghanbari, Sara Skyvington, and Michelle Dadachanji for their assistance with data collection, transcription, and coding.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health SciencesMonash University Sunway CampusBandar SunwayMalaysia

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