Growth Motivation and Well-Being in the U.S., Japan, Guatemala, and India

Abstract

The present study examined how the Growth Motivation Index (GMI; Bauer et al. in J Happiness Stud 16:185–210, 2015) related to well-being and identity exploration in samples from the U.S., Japan, Guatemala, and India. The GMI has two facets. GMI-reflective measures the motive to cultivate critical self-reflection and intellectual development, whereas GMI-experiential measures the motive to cultivate personally meaningful activities and relationships. We expected and found that, when comparing the two GMI facets simultaneously, GMI-reflective predicted well-being in countries ranked as having collectivist but not individualist cultures, whereas GMI-experiential predicted well-being in countries ranked as having individualist but not collectivist cultures. GMI-reflective predicted identity exploration across cultures. Implications for growth motivation and culture are discussed.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    As in past research (Bauer et al. 2015), where either reflective or experiential growth motivation would hold a bivariate correlation with an unpredicted variable (e.g., reflective growth motivation correlates with well-being in the U.S.), we expected that this correlation would no longer be significant when controlling for the other facet of growth motivation.

  2. 2.

    Women scored higher than men on GMI-experiential, identity exploration, PWB, PWB-growth, and PWB-purpose. However, there were no gender X GMI interactions, and gender did not account for the correlations reported above.

  3. 3.

    Still, GMI-reflective did correspond somewhat to PWB for participants who self-identified in lower castes. For the analyses that follow, we additionally conducted tests that excluded those in the lower castes, and the findings were very similar to the reported findings. Also, we excluded participants from India who did not identify with any caste, as we had no hypothesis for them and as their within-country findings suggested neither individualist nor collectivist patterns of growth motivation.

  4. 4.

    As in past research in the U.S. (Bauer et al. 2015), any bivariate relations between experiential growth motivation and identity exploration no longer held when controlling for reflective growth motivation. The two facets of growth motivation are not orthogonal, but controlling for one teases out the unique qualities of the other. Also, the measures of identity exploration and reflective growth motivation are similar: Both involve exploring new perspectives in life. But the two are not identical: They correlate at approximately the .50 level in past and present research, and identity exploration revolves around personal life decisions, whereas reflective growth motivation revolves around thinking about persons and life more generally.

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Acknowledgements

We wish to thank Matt Montoya, Erin O’Mara, Elissa Lauber, Julie Prosser, and Carrie Underwood of the University of Dayton and Claudia DeLeon of Instituto Central America for their help with this project.

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Correspondence to Jack J. Bauer.

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Bauer, J.J., Park, S.W., Kamide, H. et al. Growth Motivation and Well-Being in the U.S., Japan, Guatemala, and India. J Happiness Stud 21, 899–919 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-019-00099-6

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Keywords

  • Growth motivation
  • Well-being
  • Identity exploration
  • Eudaimonic growth
  • Cross-cultural