People Happiest When They Feel Like They ‘Belong’ to a Country
Katie Silver, Daily Mail (London), December 13, 2011
Feeling proud to be British makes you feel good about life in general, according to scientists.
They found that the kind of pride that makes people happiest is when they feel they ‘belong’ to a country, regardless of ethnicity.
Researchers studied interviews of 41,000 residents of 31 European nations and found civic pride was most linked to a general feeling of well being.
This is often because those who felt a country’s laws, traditions and institutions made them feel they belonged often had a better quality of life overall.
The study was conducted jointly by political scientists and sociologists at Washington’s American University and Belgium’s Catholic University.
They found the links between national pride and happiness were high across Europe.
But they were highest where a person felt the country in which they lived contributed to their overall lifestyle rather than their own ethnic background.
National pride–where a person declares, for instance, that they are proud to be a German, or a Brit or a Spaniard–led to an increase in overall happiness.
But the increases were greater among those who expressed a civic pride–defined as a respect for the way their country is run which defines their everyday lives.
Matthew Wright, of American University and Tim Reeskens of Catholic University, said it was more than pure flag waving patriotism that made people happy.
The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, said: ‘Civic nationalism is more inclusive, requiring respect for a country’s institutions and laws for belonging.
‘Unlike ethnic nationalism, that view is open to minorities or immigrants, at least in principle.’
It added: ‘More national pride correlated with greater personal well-being.
‘But the civic nationalists were on the whole happier, and even the proudest ethnic nationalists’ well-being barely surpassed that of people with the lowest level of civic pride.’
Matthew Wright said: ‘You have to look at how people define their pride.