Japanese university students’ life satisfaction and their intentions to travel/study abroad

Bình Nghiêm-Phú, Graduate School of Media and Governance, Keio University [About | Email]

Volume 15, Issue 2 (Article 8 in 2015). First published in ejcjs on 30 August 2015.


In terms of economic development, Japan is the third biggest economy in the world. However, Japan has been struggling with economic recession for decades. In addition, Japanese society is facing many issues, including the ‘inward-looking orientation’ (uchimuki shikō) among its young people. Japanese youth seem to be unaware of international travel, and there is a kind of ‘mind-set’ among them that international study experience is not necessary for work after graduation. In this context, this study examines the role of life satisfaction (as an indicator of quality of life and/or subjective well-being) as a predictor of Japanese university students’ intentions to travel and study abroad. Furthermore, it investigates the importance of students’ socio-demographic characteristics as the antecedents of their life satisfaction. The findings suggest that students were more satisfied with the cognition-based aspects of their life, and female students were more satisfied compared to male students. However, affective life satisfaction had a stronger effect on overall life satisfaction, and influenced students’ intentions to travel and study abroad in the near future. Limitations and implications are also discussed within the context of this study.

Keywords: Japanese college students, life satisfaction, intentions to travel/study overseas, affect.

1. Introduction


The ultimate goal of social and economic development throughout history is to improve people’s well-being. To measure the well-being that residents of a nation attain, Gross Domestic Product or GDP has been adopted since the late 1930s. However, this method has been questioned since it only measures economic performance (e.g. Williams 2013). In other words, GDP only reflects one cognitive aspect of well-being. A small kingdom, Bhutan, has introduced a more affective measure: Gross National Happiness or GNH (e.g. Kelly 2012). Besides the conventional GDP, Bhutan measures its prosperity through the spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of its citizens and natural environment.

Happiness and/or life satisfaction are indicators of quality of life and/or subjective well-being (Nghiêm-Phú 2013). Many attempts have been made to measure life satisfaction of several population groups (e.g. ethnicity/race, gender, age, employment, health), as well as to examine the predictors of life satisfaction. Life satisfaction is influenced by one’s employment and age status (Freudiger 1983), gender and family role (Broman 1988), satisfaction with non-work domains (Near & Rechner 1993), among others. With the younger groups of population (i.e., university students), the antecedents of their satisfaction with life include, for example, sleep quality (Pilcher, Ginter & Sadowsky 1997), mental status (Pilcher 1998), socio-economic status (Chow 2004), sense of identity (Lounsbury, Saudargas, Gibson & Leong 2005), and financial behaviour (Xia, Tang & Shim 2009). Nonetheless, little has been known about how life satisfaction affects other aspects of one’s life in general and of university student’s life in particular.

The purpose of this study is twofold. First, it aims to measure university students’ life satisfaction in the context of a country (i.e., Japan). Based on existing knowledge about the factors affecting life satisfaction, the study hypothesises that Japanese university students’ life satisfaction differs according to their socio-demographic characteristics. Second, this study attempts to propose and verify the role of life satisfaction as an antecedent of other constructs/variables. It is assumed that Japanese university students’ life satisfaction can predict their future intentions to travel and/or study abroad.

Japan was selected as the context of this study for several reasons. It is the third biggest economy in the world; consequently, its residents’ well-being may be at a high level although the country has been struggling with economic recession for decades. Japanese society is also facing many issues, including an ‘inward-looking orientation’ (uchimuki shikō) among its young people(Burgess 2013). Japanese youth seem to be unaware of international travel (e.g. Kin & Kamata 2010; Koide 2011), and there is a kind of ‘mind-set’ among them that international study experience is not necessary for work after graduation (e.g. Yonezawa 2010). These social issues may affect the development of Japanese youth in particular, and Japanese society and economy in general in the future.

Literature review

Life satisfaction (or satisfaction with life) is regarded as the contentment with life (Cavener 1996). It consists of both cognitive and affective elements (Nghiêm-Phú 2013). The cognitive component represents the satisfaction with various aspects of one’s life, including family, school, community, health, finance, living conditions, among others; while the affective element reflects one’s emotional perception of his/her life. Life satisfaction is a subjective concept (Liss 1994; Nordenfelt 1994; Dann 2002). The evaluation of life satisfaction is quite stable over an extended period of time (Schimmack, Diener & Oishi 2002; Lucas, Clark, Georgellis & Diener 2004). However, in the long-term, life satisfaction can be strongly influenced by life events, with some of them have lag and lead effects (Lucas, Clark, Georgellis & Diener 2004; Clark, Diener, Georgellis & Lucas 2008).

There are few studies directly investigating Japanese students’ satisfaction with life. In a cross-cultural study conducted in 39 countries, Oishi, Diener, Lucas and Suh (1999) observed that with Japanese students, the factor that could predict their satisfaction with life was ‘foods.’ In Asakawa (2010), the students with a higher frequency of flow experience (as an indicator of autotelic personality) were found to be more satisfied with their lives compared to their counterparts with a lower frequency level. Citing other authors, Asakawa (2010, p.124) regarded flow as “an optimal state of mind in which an individual feels cognitively efficient, deeply involved, and highly motivated and also experiences a high level of enjoyment.” In addition, using flow theory, Asakawa (2010, p.126) defined “an autotelic individual as one who does things for their own sake, rather than in order to achieve some external goal. In other words, an autotelic individual is a person who has a strong tendency to find intrinsic motivation and flow in his/her daily activities.” Noticeably, in these two studies, students’ satisfaction with life was only measured by an affective scale.In a smaller context, students’ satisfaction with campus life was the focus of several studies. Makino and Mori (2002), for example, found that contentment with classes, value of being, and university environment significantly influenced students’ satisfaction. In addition, the findings of Mitate, Nagai, Kitazawa and Ueno (2008) indicate that communication between students and teachers, not relationships with friends, affected students’ motivation to study, and their satisfaction with university life.

Perceptions of life satisfaction of students and other population groups differ in accordance with their socio-demographic characteristics, including biological sex (male/female), age, and financial condition, among other factors (e.g. Broman 1988; Freudiger 1983; Chow 2004; Xia, Tang & Shim 2009). In this study, it is hypothesised that the evaluations regarding their satisfaction with life differ between male and female students, students of different ages and years in university, students with different monthly allowances, and students from universities with different rankings. Therefore, the first hypothesis of this study is formed as follows:

Hypothesis 1: Students’ satisfaction with life differ (a) between male and female students, (b) among students of different ages, (c) among students of different school years, (d) among students of different allowance groups, and (e) between students of higher and lower ranked universities.

Life satisfaction is not only influenced by individual characteristics. Academic performance was also found to have a significant effect on students’ university life satisfaction (e.g. Schimmack, Diener & Oishi 2002; Xia, Tang & Shim 2009). However, Bean and Bradley (1986) found that satisfaction had a greater influence on academic performance than academic performance on satisfaction. The evaluation of life satisfaction can also be significantly improved by participating in leisure/tourism activities (e.g. Nimrod & Adoni 2006; Nimrod 2007; Sirgy, Kruger, Lee & Yu 2011). However, the relationship between life satisfaction and leisure/tourism does not only work one-way. Leisure/tourism provide individuals the opportunities to satisfy their motivations to visit new places, to meet new people, and to experience new cultures. (In other words, it is the antecedent of satisfaction.) With university students, these motivations may also be fulfilled by another mode: studying abroad (e.g. Sanchez, Fornerino & Zhang 2006; Brindle 2007). Life in general and leisure/tourism in particular are not a one-event procedure, but a series of repeat or renewed events. Positive leisure/tourism experiences can improve one’s life satisfaction; conversely, life satisfaction can stimulate one’s intention to participate in future leisure/tourism activities. In line with the studies which found that satisfaction is the antecedent of behavioural intentions in the context of tourism (e.g. Hernandez-Lobato, Solis-Radilla, Moliner-Tena & Sanchez-Garcia 2006; Um, Chon & Ro 2006), this study extends the findings of previous studies, and assumes that students’ satisfaction with life affects their intentions to participate in overseas travel and studying activities. The second hypothesis of this study is built as follows:

Hypothesis 2: Students’ satisfaction with life influences their intentions to (a) travel, and (b) study abroad.

Study instrument and operationalization

This study applied a quantitative approach to measure Japanese university students’ satisfaction with life. An integrated scale of life satisfaction was used in the study instrument. The cognitive component was measured according to eleven items (i.e. relationships with parents/siblings/children, friendships, school, housework, job, leisure, health, safety, living conditions, finance/money, and self) using a five point Likert scale (i.e., from extremely dissatisfied to extremely satisfied). The affective scale includes eight items, with the scores of three items be reversed when coding; a five point Likert scale was used (i.e., from strongly disagree to strongly agree). Also utilising a five point Likert scale of dissatisfaction-satisfaction, the overall satisfaction with life was examined through a single question: “Overall, how are you satisfied with your life?” These three components were found to have significant correlations, and the internal reliabilities of the two former components were 0.796 and 0.756 respectively (Nghiêm-Phú 2013). Students’ intentions to travel and study overseas were measured for a short-term period (one year). The respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statements regarding their intentions using a five point Likert scale. Students’ profiles include their age, sex, school year, international travel experience, study abroad experience, part-time job experience, and monthly allowance.

The questionnaire was developed in English. Two independent translators were asked to translate the questionnaire from English into Japanese, then from Japanese back into English. The final Japanese questionnaire was approved by a native-speaker university professor. A pre-test was conducted with 32 Japanese university students; the respondents could properly respond to the questions. The main surveys followed a week after the pre-test. Considering the exploratory nature of the study and the constraint of study resources, a non-probability sampling method was adopted. Students of two private universities in the Kanto region (in Japan’s southeast) were approached. A total of 221 answers were collected in a university in the top-ten, while another 145 responses were generated in another university in the top one-hundred universities in Japan (see at http://www.webometrics.info/en/asia/japan). Because the pre-test was conducted only a week before the main survey, the instrument was not adjusted after that, and t-test analysis showed that no difference existed between the data of the pre-test and the main survey, the answers of the pre-test respondents were combined into the main survey data, and were treated in the data category of the higher ranked university. After eliminating unusable questionnaires, 378 answers were kept for the main analysis, with 234 responses from the higher ranked university’s students, and 144 answers from the other university’s students.

ANOVA (Analysis of Variance), t-test, and regression analysis (simple linear regression, and hierarchical regression) were conducted in SPSS 16 to clarify the differences in the evaluations of life satisfaction between/among student groups, and the relationships between life satisfaction components and future behavioural intentions of the students. The following section will present and discuss the findings of this study.

Findings and discussion

Among the 378 respondents of this study, the numbers of male and female students, and the distributions of students in the 19-20 and 21-22 age groups are nearly equal. Two-thirds of the respondents were from the higher ranked university. The majority of students stated that they had overseas travel experiences, but didn’t have experience in studying abroad. Less than eight percent of them didn’t have any experience in doing a part-time job, and more than 58% had a monthly allowance of less than 50,000 yen. More details are provided in Table 1.

Table 1: Profile of the respondents (n = 378)










International travel experience











22 and above







Study abroad experience






School year










Part-time job experience






University ranking






Monthly allowance

Less than 50,000 yen

50,000 – Less than 100,000 yen

More than 100,000 yen





The testing of hypothesis 1

Hypothesis 1 assumes that students’ satisfaction with life differ (a) between male and female students, (b) among students of different ages, (c) among students of different school years, (d) among students of different allowance groups, and (e) between students of higher and lower ranked universities. The results revealed that H1a was supported, and H1e was partially supported, while the other sub-hypotheses were rejected.

Data in Table 2 show that students had higher overall (3.88) and cognitive (3.73) satisfactions compared to affective satisfaction (3.51). The highest satisfied life domains were friendships (4.19), relationships with family members (4.13), safety (4.11), and living conditions (4.06). However, the students seemed to agree with the statement regarding feeling old and tired (LSA7); thus, the reversed mean value of this affective satisfaction item shows a low satisfaction level (2.61).

All the evaluations of the three components of life satisfaction were found to be significantly different between male and female students, with female students having more satisfaction. Five out of eleven cognitive items, and five out of eight affective items also differentiated the two sexes. Consequently, H1a was supported.

Students of the higher ranked university had higher mean values of affective and overall life satisfactions but a lower mean value of cognitive life satisfaction. Their perceptions of life only differed in the affective domain, three out of eleven cognitive items, and four out of eight affective items. Thus, H1e was partially supported.

With the other sub-hypotheses, the results of ANOVA and Scheffé post hoc test revealed that students in the 18 and 24-or-over age groups evaluated LSA6 differently. Students of the first and second year in university didn’t share the same perspective with students of the third year grade while evaluating LSA2. In addition, students of the first and second year grades stated that their agreements with LSA7 were not the same. Students of the first and third groups of monthly allowance (less than 50,000 yen, and more than 100,000 yen respectively) evaluated LSC6 differently. The t-test comparing students with/without overseas travel and study abroad, and part-time job experiences revealed that their perceptions were almost similar. Exceptionally, students with/without international travel experience differed in their evaluations of LSC1, LSC9, LSC10, and LSA3. Those stated that they had study abroad experiences and those who did not showed differences in their evaluations of LSC10, and LSA2. Moreover, students with different experiences in taking part-time jobs differed in their perceptions of LSC5, LSC7, and LSA7. Specifically, students with this kind of experience had a higher mean score for their satisfaction with job domain (3.44 compared to 3.03 of the inexperienced students), but had lower mean scores for the other two items (3.68 and 2.58 compared to 4.07 and 3.00). These results didn’t introduce enough evidence to support the remaining sub-hypotheses; consequently, H1b/c/d were rejected in the context of this study.

Table 2: Comparison results
Life satisfaction domains Whole sample Sexes comparison University ranking comparison
Mean Standard deviation Male (mean) Female (mean) Difference Higher (mean) Lower (mean) Difference
Cognitive satisfaction 3.73 0.509 3.64 3.83 p < .001 3.71 3.79 p > .05
(LSC1) Relationships with parents/siblings/children 4.13 0.864 4.07 4.2 p > .05 4.11 4.17 p > .05
(LSC2) Friendships 4.19 0.747 4.06 4.33 p < .001 4.18 4.2 p > .05
(LSC3) School 3.8 0.892 3.66 3.94 p < .01 3.88 3.67 p < .05
(LSC4) Housework 3.35 0.9 3.27 3.42 p > .05 3.26 3.48 p < .05
(LSC5) Job 3.41 0.971 3.37 3.44 p > .05 3.38 3.45 p > .05
(LSC6) Leisure 3.6 0.917 3.5 3.7 p < .05 3.57 3.64 p > .05
(LSC7) Health 3.71 0.995 3.62 3.81 p > .05 3.56 3.96 p < .001
(LSC8) Safety 4.11 0.829 3.99 4.23 p < .01 4.06 4.19 p > .05
(LSC9) Living conditions 4.06 0.882 3.95 4.18 p < .05 4.03 4.12 p > .05
(LSC10) Finance/Money 3.3 1.06 3.26 3.34 p > .05 3.22 3.42 p > .05
(LSC11) Self 3.27 0.989 3.17 3.37 p > .05 3.23 3.33 p > .05
Affective satisfaction 3.51 0.613 3.41 3.61 p < .01 3.59 3.4 p < .01
(LSA1) My life’s conditions are excellent 3.99 0.878 3.86 4.11 p < .01 4.01 3.95 p > .05
(LSA2) This is the dearest time of my life 3.87 0.975 3.92 3.82 p > .05 3.97 3.72 p < .05
(LSA3) I am as happy as when I was younger 3.88 0.916 3.71 4.05 p < .001 3.96 3.74 p < .05
(LSA4) My life is close to ideal 3.2 1.022 3.02 3.37 p < .01 3.2 3.19 p > .05
(LSA5) Things are as interesting as they were 3.75 0.966 3.64 3.86 p < .05 3.8 3.66 p > .05
(LSA6) Most things in my life are boring and monotonous (reversed) 3.6 1.091 3.4 3.8 p < .05 3.74 3.38 p < .01
(LSA7) I feel old and tired (reversed) 2.61 1.105 2.63 2.58 p > .05 2.62 2.59 p > .05
(LSA8) I feel down too often compared to others (reversed) 3.14 1.159 3.1 3.18 p > .05 3.28 2.92 p < .01
Overall satisfaction 3.88 0.822 3.73 4.04 p < .001 3.94 3.79 p > .05

These findings complement the previous studies by showing that biological sex (male/female) is an indicator of satisfaction with life. Among the university student subjects in this study, female respondents showed higher levels of life satisfaction across all the three domains. Another interesting finding was that students of the higher ranked university were more satisfied with their schooling (3.88), compared to students of the other university (3.67); in addition, their affective life was more positively perceived. Less than eight percent of the respondents answered that they were inexperienced with part-time employment, and their evaluations of job satisfaction were also significantly lower compared to the counterparts who had that experience.

The testing of hypothesis 2

Hypothesis 2 proposes that students’ satisfaction with life influences their intentions to (a) travel, and (b) study abroad. Considering the results of testing hypothesis 1, the testing of hypothesis 2 was implemented not only for the whole sample, but also for the male and female sub-samples. The analysis process included three steps: (1) Cronbach’s alphas were calculated for the cognitive and affective life satisfaction scales to check their internal consistencies; (2) simple linear regression confirmed the structure of the life satisfaction construct; and (3) hierarchical regression analysis tested the relationships between the dependent and independent variables.

According to Leech, Barrett and Morgan (2005), the acceptable Cronbach’s alpha of a scale should exceed 0.70, and the corrected item-total correlation should exceed 0.30. The calculation of Cronbach’s alphas for the cognitive and affective scales of the whole sample and two sub-samples revealed that the initial scales had acceptable values (Table 3). However, within the affective scale tested on the whole sample, the value of corrected item-total correlation of LSA2 was lower than 0.30; in addition, with the male sub-sample, not only LSA2 but also LSA7 had corrected item-total correlations below 0.30. Thus, to increase the internal consistency of the affective scale, LSA2 was removed when testing the whole sample, and both LSA2 and LSA7 were removed when testing the male sub-sample. Consequently, higher alphas were achieved for the adjusted affective scales with all the corrected item-total correlations exceeding 0.30 (Table 3). The scales tested on the female sub-sample had satisfied internal consistencies without removing any item.

Table 3: Cronbach’s alphas of the cognitive and affective scales
Scale Whole sample
(n = 378)
Male sub-sample
(n = 191)
Female sub-sample
(n = 187)
Initial eleven items 0.774 0.773 0.758
Initial eight items 0.752 0.737 0.763
LSA2 removed 0.765
LSA2 and LSA7 removed 0.772

The integrated scale of life satisfaction includes three components, and there are significant relationships among them. Specifically, overall life satisfaction is influenced by cognitive and affective satisfactions; cognitive satisfaction also influences affective satisfaction. The results of simple linear regression analysis showed significant evidence to support the stability of the structure of the construct (Table 4). All the values represent strong effects of the relationships (Leech, Barrett & Morgan 2005). This result complements the finding of Nghiêm-Phú (2013) with university students in Vietnam regarding the three component structure of the life satisfaction construct, especially in the case of the female sub-sample. In addition, affective satisfaction with life had a larger effect on overall satisfaction compared to that of cognitive satisfaction.

Table 4: Construct structure verification
Path Whole sample
(n = 378)
Male sub-sample
(n = 191)
Female sub-sample
(n = 187)
Cognitive → Affective β = .603 β = .521 β = .658
Adjusted R2 = .362 Adjusted R2 = .268 Adjusted R2 = .430
p < .001 p < .001 p < .001
Cognitive → Overall β = .559 β = .506 β = .606
Adjusted R2 = .311 Adjusted R2 = .252 Adjusted R2 = .363
p < .001 p < .001 p < .001
Affective → Overall β = .711 β = .718 β = .721
Adjusted R2 = .504 Adjusted R2 = .514 Adjusted R2 = .518
p < .001 p < .001 p < .001

The testing of hypothesis 2 followed the calculation of Cronbach’s alphas, and the confirmation of construct’s structure. In the first step of hierarchical regression analysis, cognitive and affective satisfactions were input as the independent variables or the predictors in the model; in the second step, overall satisfaction was added. Two dependent variables were students’ intentions to travel and study abroad. The first step’s results show that affective satisfaction with life influenced the travel intention of students of the whole sample, and of the male sub-sample. However, in the second step, after adding overall satisfaction as another predictor, affective satisfaction with life was found to have a significant effect on travel and study intentions of students of the whole sample, and on the study intention of male students. None of the three components of life satisfaction affected female students’ intentions across all the analyses. In summary, life satisfaction could predict students’ intention to travel and to study abroad (in the whole sample), and male students’ intention to travel abroad with little effect; the influence that life satisfaction had on travel intention was stronger than that on study intention. However, that effect could not be seen in the case of female students (Table 5, adjusted R2 is presented by A. R2). This finding extends the role of life satisfaction as a predictor of other behavioural constructs. When wants/needs are met and satisfaction is achieved, individuals tend to act positively. Consequently, life satisfaction is not only a dependent variable as seen in previous studies, but can play a more active role in predicting other variables.

Table 5: Proposed relationships verification

Whole sample

(n = 378)

Male sub-sample

(n = 191)

Female sub-sample

(n = 187)


Travel intention

Study intention

Travel intention

Study intention

Travel intention

Study intention

Step 1




β = .040

(p > .05)

β = .177

(p < .01)

R = .204

  1. R2 = .036

(p < .0001)

β = .059

(p > .05)

β = .075

(p > .05)

R = .120

  1. R2 = .009

(p > .05)

β = .106

(p > .05)

β = .182

(p < .05)

R = .253

  1. R2 = .054

(p < .05)

β = .051

(p > .05)

β = .133

(p > .05)

R = .165

  1. R2 = .017

(p > .05)

β = -.160

(p > .05)

β = .176

(p > .05)

R = .139

  1. R2 = .009

(p > .05)

β = .101

(p > .05)

β = -.081

(p > .05)

R = .077

  1. R2 = -.005

(p > .05)

Step 2





β = .042

(p > .05)

β = .183

(p < .05)

β = -.009

(p > .05)

R = .204

  1. R2 = .034

(p < .001)

β = .088

(p > .05)

β = .158

(p < .05)

β = -.142

(p > .05)

R = .155

  1. R2 = .016

(p < .05)

β = .113

(p > .05)

β = .206

(p > .05)

β = -.039

(p > .05)

R = .255

  1. R2 = .054

(p < .05)

β = .082

(p > .05)

β = .239

(p < .05)

β = -.170

(p > .05)

R = .202

  1. R2 = .025

(p > .05)

β = -.140

(p > .05)

β = .225

(p > .05)

β = -.087

(p > .05)

R = .151

  1. R2 = .007

(p > .05)

β = .133

(p > .05)

β = .000

(p > .05)

β = -.141

(p > .05)

R = .122

  1. R2 = -.001

(p > .05)

R2 change







F change (p)


(p > .05)

(p > .05)


(p > .05)

(p > .05)


(p > .05)

(p > .05)

Table 5 also shows that R2 change-values in all analyses were small and insignificant. Overall satisfaction with life didn’t have any influence on student’s future intentions, and did not play the role of a mediating variable in the relationship between cognitive/affective satisfaction and students’ intentions. Students’ satisfactions with the cognitive aspects of their life (familial relationships, friendships, school, housework, job, leisure, health, safety, living conditions, finance/money, and self) didn’t affect their future intentions. However, the affective evaluations significantly contributed to the predicting effect of life satisfaction. This result lends some support to the recent advocacy of a bolder role of the affective measure of a nation’s well-being (e.g. Kelly 2012). In the Japanese context, it urges researchers and managers to search for more psychological reasons behind the inward-looking orientation within the youth population. Under the examination of Japanese researchers, ‘saving money for future plans,’ ‘busy job/school,’ and  ‘spending time and money for friends and other interests’ were found to have a negative effect on young people’s intention to travel, while ‘worry about foreign languages,’ ‘overseas transportations and tourist facilities,’ and ‘interest in domestic destinations’ had a positive effect (Kin & Kamata 2010). Other reasons may include the current economic condition, terror threat, and the convenience of new media (Koide 2011). These issues are rather the personal cognition-based factors. From an outsider’s observation, individual factors (e.g. perceived risks) are not the only reasons; the more fundamental reasons lay on the social structure of Japan (Burgess 2013). This study, however, argues that personal affect-based issues also influence the youth population’s future intentions.

Concluding remarks and recommendations for future studies

This study applied an integrated scale to measure the level of satisfaction with life of Japanese university students. The findings suggest that students are more satisfied with the cognition-based aspects of their life, and female students are more satisfied compared to male students. In addition, affective satisfaction with life was found to have a stronger effect on overall life satisfaction, and this component also exerted some influences on students’ intentions to travel and study abroad in the near future. Theoretically, this finding has extended the role of life satisfaction as a predictor of individuals’ behavioural intentions. Unlike the majority of studies on this topic which treated life satisfaction as the end of a path (i.e., predicting life satisfaction using other variables), this study showed that life satisfaction could be a predicting variable itself. This opens up many possibilities for future studies, including the retesting of the predicting power of life satisfaction, and the examination of the mediating effect of life satisfaction on the relationship between its antecedents (e.g. socio-demographic variables) and its consequences (e.g. behavioural intentions). In addition, this study calls for further investigations into the role of the affect-based factors with Japanese youth’s thinking and behaviours. The question “Why are Japanese students unaware of international experiences (e.g. travel, study),” as well as its consequences and solutions, need to be thoroughly addressed.

Because only a small number of students of two private universities in Japan’s southeast were surveyed, the findings were limited to the population of this study. To extend the findings, future studies may approach students in other regions of Japan in a random way. Researchers may also conduct longitudinal studies to see the changes in students’ evaluation of their lives under the control of socio-demographic variables and life events. Future studies may also apply the structural equation modeling method to confirm the second hypothesis proposed in this study.

Life satisfaction is an important component of individuals’ subjective well-being. In this study, a model developed by a previous study regarding the three components of the life-satisfaction construct (cognitive, affective, and overall) was confirmed in a different cultural context (Japan). However, this model should be retested on a non-student population to confirm its stability.


The author would like to thank Professor Takeo Kuwahara, Associate Professor Yoko Hasebe, and Associate Professor Jiho Han for their help with the development of the Japanese version of the instrument, and the collection of the data.


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About the Author

Bình Nghiêm-Phú is currently a PhD Candidate at the Graduate School of Media and Governance, Keio University, Japan. His interests are in marketing and psychology. He is doing research in the fields of tourism and leisure, and with niche population groups.

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