FRIDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- The more people are satisfied with their country, the better they feel about their lives, a new study shows.

This connection is especially strong among those who have low incomes or live in poorer nations and non-Western countries, according to study author Mike Morrison, a doctoral candidate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and colleagues.

They analyzed responses collected from 130,000 people in 128 countries who took part in a Gallup World Poll that asked participants a series of questions about their lives, including job satisfaction, household income and their feelings about their life and country.

The study appears in the latest issue of the journal Psychological Science.

"You can hear politicians in any country declare, 'We live in the best country in the world!' and people cheer," Morrison said in a journal news release. He noted that anyone "can idealize their country," and this appears to be an effective option for people without much money.

The researchers also found that people in non-Western countries are more likely to identify strongly with a group, as opposed to the sense of individualism common in Western nations. This could explain why the sense of well-being among people who live in non-Western nations is more closely associated with their satisfaction with their country.

Among people with high incomes and those who live in Western nations, well-being was more closely linked to personal factors such as health, job satisfaction and standard of living.

The majority of studies on happiness have examined its link to income, health, attitudes or temperament. "But we find here that societal characteristics, and how they are perceived, can also be important," said study co-author Ed Diener, a leading happiness researcher. "What is more, societal characteristics become even more important to happiness when one's life is not going so well. This might explain why nationalism, the loyalty of sports fans, and religiosity can be very strong in the toughest of times."

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