Despite recent research associating inferiority feelings with two of the social disruptors of happiness, namely self-concealment (Cimsir & Akdoğan, 2019) and loneliness (Akdoğan, 2017), neither the nature nor the mechanism of the connection between inferiority feelings and happiness have been investigated. The main objective of this study was, therefore, to test if inferiority feelings are associated with subjective happiness, while proposing a process in which inferiority feelings cause self-concealment, which in turn, causes loneliness, thereby resulting in a decrease in happiness. A serial mediation analysis was conducted via PROCESS, a computational tool for observed variable moderation, mediation and conditional process modeling (Hayes, 2012). The results confirm that self-concealment and loneliness act as serial mediators between inferiority feelings and subjective happiness, meaning that individuals with increased inferiority feelings have a higher tendency toward selfconcealment. This, in turn, results in an increase in loneliness and a decrease in happiness. Additionally, a multiple regression analysis revealed that inferiority feelings, loneliness, self-concealment, age and gender significantly explain happiness at a level of 35% (R2 = 0.35, F (5, 276) =30.27, p < .001), with loneliness and inferiority feelings being the only significant predictors of subjective happiness.
The pursuit of happiness has been one of the strongest motivators of human behavior since the beginning of human existence. This focus on happiness has driven many scientists to work on revealing the components and characteristics of a happy life. Although objective conditions, such as health (Easterlin, 2003), income (Diener, Tay, & Oishi, 2013) and social support (Ye, Yeung, Liu, & Rochelle, 2018) have been found to have a positive impact on happiness, subjective factors, such as emotional intelligence (Ye et al., 2018), self-esteem (Apaolaza, Hartmann, Medina, Barrutia, & Echebarria, 2013; Hanley & Garland, 2017; Lyubomirsky, Tkach, & DiMatteo, 2006; Yue, Liu, Jiang, & Hiranandani, 2014) optimism (Carver & Scheier, 2017) and extraversion (Lauriola & Iani, 2015) have also been shown to increase happiness. These findings have highlighted the ‘subjective’ nature of happiness, which indicates that happy and unhappy people tend to show variations in their strategies of self-organization, perceptions, interpretations, and thought processes under positive and negative subjective conditions (Lyubomirsky & Lepper, 1999; Lyubomirsky & Tucker, 1998). Loneliness has been the subject of close scrutiny from researchers due to its negative influence on subjective happiness (e.g., Apaolaza et al., 2013; Hombrados-Mendieta, García-Martín, & Gómez-Jacinto, 2013; Lyubomirsky et al., 2006; e.g., Kumar, 2015; Phu & Gow, 2018; Yan, Su, Zhu, & He, 2013). Similar to subjective happiness, loneliness has been found to be correlated with a number of variables that are subjective in nature, such as self-esteem (Kong & You, 2013), self-efficacy (Wei, Russell, & Zakalik, 2005), and self-confidence (Cheng & Furnham, 2002). Research has identified self-concealment as one of the predictors of loneliness (Çelik & Sahranç, 2015; Cimsir and Akdoğan, 2019; Doğan & Çolak, 2016; Yu, Li, & Wang, 2007), indicating that the nature of the restricted self-disclosure that characterizes self-concealment (Larson & Chastain, 1990) may have a detrimental effect on establishing and maintaining friendships, which may potentially lead to loneliness.