Belief in a zero-sum game and subjective well-being across 35 countries

Joanna Różycka-Tran*, Jarosław P. Piotrowski, Magdalena Żemojtel-Piotrowska, Paweł Jurek, Evgeny N. Osin, Byron G. Adams, Rahkman Ardi, Sergiu Bălțătescu, Arbinda Lal Bhomi, Sergey A. Bogomaz, Jan Cieciuch, Amanda Clinton, Gisela T. Clunie, Anna Z. Czarna, Carla Sofia Esteves, Valdiney Gouveia, Murnizam H. J. Halik, Narine Kachatryan, Shanmukh Vasant Kamble, Anna KawulaMartina Klicperova-Baker, Aituar Kospakov, Eva Letovancova, Vivian Miu-Chi Lun, Sara Malo Cerrato, Stephan Muehlbacher, Marija Nikolic, Alina A. Pankratova, Joonha Park, Elena Paspalanova, Győző Pék, Pablo Pérez León, Iva Poláčková Šolcová, Wahab Shahbaz, Truong Thi Khanh Ha, Habib Tiliouine, Alain Hiel, Christin-Melanie Vauclair, Eduardo Wills-Herrera, Anna Włodarczyk, Illia I. Yahiiaiev, John Maltby

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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This article presents a short research report on the relationship between perceived antagonism in social relations measured using the Belief in a Zero-Sum Game (BZSG) scale, life satisfaction, and positive and negative affect. Given that individuals who believe that life is like a zero-sum game are likely to perceive their daily interactions with others as unfair, we expected that individuals with high BZSG experience more negative affect and fewer positive one, resulting in a lower satisfaction with life. In addition, we examined whether country-level BZSG may play a moderating role in these associations. Data were collected from student samples (N = 7146) in 35 countries. Multilevel modelling revealed that perceived social antagonism in social relations is negatively associated with satisfaction with life and that this relationship is mediated by both positive and negative affect at the individual level. The relation of individual BZSG and negative affect on satisfaction with life were weaker in societies with higher country-level BZSG, suggesting that the effects of BZSG may be less detrimental in these countries. These findings extend previous knowledge about predictors of life satisfaction and suggest that social beliefs might also be an important factor that influences subjective well-being. The contribution of the study is that the separate treatment of life satisfaction and positive and negative affect may be helpful in many research situations, particularly from a cross-cultural perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3575-3584
JournalCurrent Psychology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Belief in a zero-sum game
  • LIFE
  • MML
  • SWLS
  • Subjective well-being


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