The Impact of Culture on the Individual Subjective Well-Being of the Italian Population: An Exploratory Study

The aim of this study is to explore the relationship between cultural access and individual psychological well-being, in order to provide a possible estimation of the impact of cultural participation upon subjective perceptions of well being. Our exploratory research was based on a cross-sectional survey undertook on a mediumlarge sample (n=1500) of Italian residents in fall 2008. We refer to the Psychological General Well-Being Index–PGWBI, a tool that has been validated through 30 years of research, as an index of measurement. Moreover, we have administered to the sample an additional questionnaire inquiring about access to 15 distinct culturally related activities. Data are processed by means of a specific methodology based on ANN and Called TWIST. TWIST has been developed by the Semeion Research Center, Rome. Our analysis suggests that culture has a relevant role as a determinant of individual psychological well-being, in that a selected subset of cultural variables turn out to perform among the best predictors of individual PGWB levels. Our results also allow some preliminary considerations about innovative, well-being focused public health policies leveraging upon the human and social developmental role of culture.

Article by Enzo Grossi, Pier Luigi Sacco, Giorgio Tavano Blessi, Renata Cerutti
Published in The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS) 2010

From the Conclusions (excerpt)
(…) Our evidence thus shows that, at least for specific forms of cultural access, individual well-being is substantially affected, and therefore policies aimed at fostering cultural access can be regarded (and suitably reframed and re-designed) as health policies. The use of artificial neural networks, which allows to work with very complex predictive models, taking into account all sorts of interactions among variables (however complex), shows that the contribution of cultural access is not simply related to other well known determinants of subjective well-being, like levels of education, income, or age, as it is contended by conventional wisdom in the field. (…).

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