A quantitative and qualitative approach to social relationships and well-being in the United States and Japan
This study examined associations between social relationships and psychological well-being through (a) quantitative analyses of surveys of representative samples ranging in age from 13 to 93 in the United States (N = 1498) and Japan (N = 1641) and (b) qualitative content analyses of 12 focus group discussions conducted separately with American and Japanese participants. Survey results revealed that having a spouse or a best friend was related more strongly to some aspects of psychological well-being in Japan than in the United States. Findings regarding the quality of social relationships were more mixed; some aspects of quality were related more strongly to well-being in Japan but others were related more strongly in the United States. Focus group participants described social relationships as influencing well-being by offering a sense of belonging, providing someone in whom to confide, making too many demands and not allowing enough independence, and affecting perceptions of success in relationships.