Social Axioms as Predictors of Psychological and Subjective Well-Being in Iran and England
The concept of social axiom represents generalized beliefs regarding individuals, agencies and other social institutions, and the spiritual world. The relationship between social axioms and social and mental well-being has not been widely investigated. The aim of this research is to consider the role of culture in four distinct areas of study: 1) The role of social axioms and their dimensions in predicting mental well-being (subjective and psychological well-being) as well as the mechanism of the relationship between social axioms and well-being through controlling the variables of Iranian and UK students and the big five personality factors. 2) The mediation role of mindfulness and perspective taking. 3) The scope of influence of one’s attachment to national or ethnic identity on well-being. 4) The understanding of the participants of various social beliefs, especially of the concept of divine providence and its impact on one’s well-being. As method, the first three goals were addressed by correlational studies while the fourth goal was investigated using grounded theory. The research sample for the first study consisted of 73 Iranian students (37 females and 36 males) residing in Iran and 66 students (45 females and 21 males) living in the UK. The sample for the second study included 72 Iranian students (34 females and 38 males) who reside in Iran, and in the third study the sample was composed of 66 Iranians (35 females and 31 males) who live in the UK. In the qualitative research (fourth study), the participants were 14 Iranians living in the UK for at least 3 years (4 male and 10 female). Instruments used were the Social Axiom Survey (SAS; Leung et al., 2002), Big Five Inventory (BFI; John, Donahue, & Kentle, 1991; John & Srivastava, 1999), Psychological Well-Being Scale (Ryff, 1989), Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS; Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin, 1985), Positive and Negative Affect Scale (Mroczek & Kolarz, 1998), the perspective taking subscale of the Empathy Questionnaire (Davis, 1980), the acceptance subscale of the Philadelphia Mindfulness Scale (Cardaciotto et al., 2008), Paullhus’s Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding (BIDR; Paulhus, 1984), and the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure-Revised (MEIM-R; Phinney & Ong, 2007). In the qualitative research, a structured interview was used. Results show that: 1) In both samples of students who live in the UK and in Iran iv social cynicism and fate control are related with well-being. Also, in the Iranian case reward for application, social complexity, and religiosity have significant relationships with well-being but in the UK based students this is not the case. Results also showed that social axioms can predict well-being over and above the role of country and personality traits. 2) The mediation role of mindful acceptance was not endorsed in the relationship between social cynicism and subjective well-being. It was found that the predictor (social cynicism) and the mediator (mindful acceptance) were not significantly correlated with the outcome (subjective well-being). However, the mediation role of perspective taking in the relationship between social complexity and psychological well-being was endorsed. 3) The moderation role of attachment to national identity in the relationship between social axioms and subjective well-being was endorsed. 4) The qualitative study indicated that Iranian immigrants have an indigenous strategy for attaining mental well-being in the face of complications and difficulties, relying on their national identity and religious background. This strategy is based on the concepts of free will and predestination of life events. Paying attention to negative events and ignoring positive events and inefficient problem-solving strategies can account for the relationship between social cynicism and low well-being and inattention to cultural elements. However, the Iranian collective culture, optimal coping style, and excessive insistence on religious elements as a cultural attribute can explain the relationship between religiosity, reward for application, and well-being in the Iranian sample. On the other hand, surrendering to divine will and the belief in divine will and predestination of life events along with the belief in human free will account for the role of attachment to national identity in the relationship between social axioms and well-being in the Iranian sample. In conclusion, it seems that though social axioms are related to well-being, different aspects of social axioms seem to be related to different aspects of well-being in different ways and this relationship is influenced by cultural attributes.