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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

“A Happy Person”: A Japanese-German Comparison of Factors of Life Satisfaction

 January 2010 - December 2013

This comparative project investigates the ascribed influence of individual properties and social life circumstances on people’s happiness. Data were collected by means of a questionnaire survey in Japan and Germany. Respondents were students of universities in Tokyo and Cologne.

The purpose of the survey is twofold. (1) The comparison of the Japanese and German data will be analysed in order to find out whether the factors that have a bearing on the happiness and unhappiness of people are weighed in like manner by both groups of respondents. (2) On this basis an answer will be sought to the question of whether and to what extent Japanese and German lay theories of happiness differ and/or overlap. It is further expected that the results will contribute to resolving the much discussed question of whether the Japanese and German words for happiness, kōfuku (or shiawase) and Glück mean the same. This leads to the question of how word meaning and referent, that is, an emotional sensation, are related and what position the terms in question occupy in the emotional resources of the two cultures. To shed light on this question, the survey instrument included a semantic differential for ein glücklicher Mensch and kōfukuna hito.

This project is carried out jointly with Wolfang Jagodzinski and Annelene Wengler (University of Cologne) and Rie Suzuki (Seikei University).


Florian Coulmas Florian Coulmas (until October 2016)
Director (2004 - 2014), Director