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Happiness (Subjective Well-being)

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1 Happiness (Subjective Well-being)
Michael Hoerger Happiness (Subjective Well-being)

2 Introduction What is happiness? Subjective well-being:
Participants report on own positive and negative feelings High positive affect: happiness, pleasure, excitement, contentment, meaning Low negative affect: anxiety, sadness, worthlessness, restlessness, dejection Compare ourselves to our reference group

3 Culture Average personal income matters up to $10,000, but not much after that Egalitarianism = more happiness Freedom to choose = more happiness Instability = unhappiness In the U.S.: lower happiness for African Americans than whites

4 Northern Europe U.S.A. Russia

5 Personality Happiness is relatively consistent across lifespan
Temperament + Socialization Low neuroticism, high extraversion Assertiveness Self-regulation Personal Control Psychopathology

6 Gender Women: ↑ ↑ anxiety, depression, and mood disorders
Men: ↑ anger and aggression Smaller differences for… American minorities Developing countries Amish

7 Age Correlates r = .10 with happiness
Larger for males Smaller or negative for females! Retrospective accounts show college years to be the happiest Happier people live longer

8 Pursuit of Happiness What choices can we make to maximize happiness?
“Whether it's the thing that matters or the thing that doesn't, both of them matter less than you think they will” – Gilbert Reference points and coping Many factors NOT important for happiness, but a few are…

9 Health Correlates r = .30 with happiness
Health causes happiness and vice versa Mild long-term impact for stable disabilities Harder to adapt to progressive diseases Mild benefits of attractiveness and cosmetic surgery for women; height for men

10 Work People who work are happier Happier people work more effectively
Unemployed are much less happy Boredom, worse physical and psychological health, lower income, lower education Worse impact among high SES Reverse finding for retired people

11 Income Matters more to poor countries/people
Income correlates r = .17 with happiness in the U.S. After about $10,000 / year, personal income does little to affect happiness “Comparison income” more important than “actual income”

12 No r Little r Big r

13 Education Greater effects in less-educated countries
Correlates r = .10 with happiness, mainly by increasing income and job opportunities r = .10 between IQ and happiness Socioeconomic status (combination of education, income, and occupation) correlates r = .30 with happiness in the U.S.

14 Relationships Ranked most to least happy: Married, single, widowed, divorced/separated Children? Provides social support Difficulty of bereavement

15 Love Money Importance Happiness

16 Leisure Activities Participating in valued activities
Working toward personal goals “Happy people know what they want to do and are doing it” – Brickman and Coates Csikszentmihalyi’s (chick-sent-me-high) idea of “flow” Behavioral activation Social benefits

17 Religion Religiousness correlates r = .10 with happiness
Mainly due to third variables, such as social support, marriage, class, personality “Does religion cause happiness or vice versa? There is little clear evidence on this point”

18 Social Policy National happiness registry?
Promote psychological and physical health, and leisure activities Focus on extremes: Progressive diseases, low income, unemployed, bereavement and divorce

19 Quotes Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do.... They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we shall think Jeremy Bentham Human felicity is produced not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen as by little advantages that occur every day Benjamin Franklin

20 When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us Helen Keller That is happiness; to be dissolved in something complete and great Willa Cather Happiness is a habit--cultivate it Elbert Hubbard How to gain, how to keep, how to recover happiness is in fact for most men at all times the secret motive of all they do, and of all they are willing to endure William James

21 Puritanism--the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy
Puritanism--the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy H.L. Mencken Modern Americans travel light, with little philosophical baggage other than a fervent belief in their right to the pursuit of happiness George Will To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others Albert Camus Happiness resides not in possessions and not in gold, the feeling of happiness dwells in the soul Democritus

22 Michael Hoerger To cite this lecture: Hoerger, M. (2007, April 23). Happiness and Subjective Well-Being. Presented at a PSY 220 lecture at Central Michigan University.

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